Being self-employed certainly has its perks – you are your own boss so your work schedule can fit around your life, you can take on as much or as little work as you like, you do not have to face lengthy commutes and many other benefits. It can also pose its own unique challenges, particularly if you are working from home (which many people are now doing). It can take some getting used to, but once you have established a healthy routine, it can be a rewarding, lucrative and enjoyable way to make a living. Here are a few tips for people who are just starting out as self-employed.
Rainy Day Fund
As any self-employed individual will tell you, there will be days where you are overwhelmed with work and days with nothing to do. It can be nerve-wracking when the work dries up, so always put away money each month into a “rainy day fund.” It is a good idea to have three months’ worth of wages backed up so that you can continue to support yourself if the work stops and you need to find more.
In order to showcase your skill set and attract clients, it is vital that you have a strong online presence (much like any company). This will involve having a high-quality professional website complete with your background, skill set and a portfolio. Additionally, it is also worth having a professional Facebook and Twitter page along with LinkedIn. Having these pages, and being active across them, will help you to stand out, connect with people and find new work.
Following on from this, it is a great idea for a self-employed individual to network as much as humanly possible. It is all about who you know in business, and networking is a tool to get your name out there and meet potential clients (or people who can introduce you to potential clients). If you are unsure where to network, you should be able to find meetings by looking online in your local area. There is also a lot of helpful information on how to network online too.
Separate Work & Personal Life
You may feel like you need to constantly be on the clock when you are self-employed, but this is not healthy and it is important that you have time off. Be sure to separate your work and personal life as much as possible. This can be particularly challenging if you are working from home, but you can do this by having a home office which is separate from the rest of the house and setting strict hours for working.
One of the biggest challenges that self-employed individuals face is keeping track of their finances. Keeping accurate records of expenses and income is vital for streamlining the operation, paying the right amount of tax and for calculating salary. Hiring an accountant is the obvious solution, but this in itself is a large expense and one which is not entirely necessary. Instead, look for handy online tools that can make bookkeeping simple and straightforward. As an example, Mighty Taxes is a tax preparation software which can make it quick and easy for businesses and self-employed workers to prepare their tax returns each year.
Set a Schedule
One of the major perks of being self-employed is the flexibility, but it is also a good idea to set yourself a work schedule so that you can be productive. Many people like to work typical business hours so that they can communicate with clients and enjoy time off when everyone else is off, but you may also want to finish early or take particular days off to take advantage of the flexibility. What works for you may not work for someone else, so take the time to find your own rhythm but be sure that you have a set schedule so that the work gets done.
Get Out Each Day
If you are working from home, it can be very easy to get cabin fever after a few days, so always make time to get out each day whether this is meeting a client, coffee with a friend, going to the gym or even a walk to the shops. Additionally, make regular social plans with friends so that you do not spend your free time cooped up inside where you have been working all day.
When you are working, always act accordingly in order to paint your business as a professional organization and to help yourself switch into work mode. This is also important when communicating with clients either by phone or email, so always use appropriate language and avoid colloquialisms. Some people who work from home even find it helpful to dress as if they were in the office and then get changed at the end of the day – this is also a great way to separate work and personal life.
Being self-employed can be chaotic and especially if you have several clients. It is for this reason why it is essential that you stay organized and this will help you to feel on top of things while also making sure that you never miss a deadline. Create a calendar with deadlines, important meetings, social plans and anything else that you need to be aware of.
It is easy to see why so many people are opting for self-employment and it can be an incredibly rewarding way to make a living, but it also has a number of unique and difficult challenges to overcome. Many of these you will learn how to combat along the way, but the above advice should help anyone to succeed as a self-employed worker and enjoy the many advantages that this type of employment brings. It can take some getting used to, but once you have established your own routine and the money starts coming in, you will quickly start to enjoy the thrills of being your own boss.