If you’re self-employed (and earning enough cash-dolla to get by), you’re probably the target of all your friends’ envy. You don’t have a boss! You can do what you want! You’re living the life! Now, if only that were actually true… What most people don’t seem to understand is that self-employment is tough as hell to get right. There’s so much to consider, so much to do, and so much that could easily mess up. But if you’re one of the lucky few who manages to ace being your own boss? You’ve pretty much got it made. Here’s how to do it.
1. Structure your day. If you don’t, you could very easily end up on a three-hour lunch break catching Pokemon at that salad bar down the road. Being motivated is tough; motivating yourself is even tougher. Many people actually need the presence of a boss breathing down their necks to get shit done. If you’re self-employed, you get none of that – and this can be a blessing and a curse. Not only will a good structure ensure that you use your workday for, you know, work – it will also help you to accurately measure your productivity.
2. Block out all those distractions. You know the ones – episode 5 of that ShowMax series you binge-watched last night, dumb BuzzFeed quizzes, YouTube beauty tutorials, ALL FORMS OF SOCIAL MEDIA EVER. Stop. Yo. Self. Gurl. Get rid of anything that stands between you and the act of actually getting some work done. If you work for yourself, distractions tend to multiply very easily. Don’t let it happen to you.
3. Keep your relationships with clients close. Your entire livelihood depends on the people who trust you and need your service. When you work at a company and you screw up, you let your boss down. If you screw up while self-employed, you let your client down – and your client is your everything. Live by the mantra, ‘Under-promise and over-deliver.’ Don’t submit work late if you can help it, and follow your briefs to the T. The more clients you can keep coming back for more, the sooner you can put down the deposit for that flat you’ve been eyeing.
4. Get a damn accountant. You can offer a service, and be fantastic at it… but that doesn’t mean you’ll be as fantastic managing money. Working at a company is great, because you pretty much never have to worry about tax and benefits. If you work for yourself, managing your money correctly is totally up to you. You don’t want to end up in a sticky situation without having any money to spare. A little help from a proper financial adviser will go a long way.
5. Seriously, give yourself a weekend. No matter how inspired and excited you feel about your business, working seven-hour days seven days a week is a terrible idea. You’re going to burn out, and it’s going to happen soon. Overworking yourself isn’t the answer to getting ahead, but it is the answer to becoming monumentally stressed out. You may be working for yourself, but you’re only human! Give yourself a break.
6. Carefully choose your work assignment. Don’t feel like you have to say yes to every client that wants something from you. Some clients will give you terrible assignments (or be terrible themselves). If you don’t want to do something, for whatever reason, you have every right to decline a job. Doing something you don’t want to be doing will only decrease your morale, and you definitely don’t need that. Give yourself permission to say ‘thanks but no’ once in a while.