Five tips for anyone thinking about self-employment
This week marks two years since I left the corporate world, to start my own practice…a significant milestone, when you consider many small businesses fail within their first two years.
As I enter my third year I took some time-out to reflect on what I’ve accomplished, the lessons I’ve learnt and where I need to focus in the future. Reflection has always been a challenge for me, it means stopping, sitting, and thinking back. Stephen Covey, in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, refers to this as “stopping to sharpen the saw”. He writes about the benefits of staying fit and being able to “increase your capacity to produce and handle the challenges around you. Without this renewal, the body becomes weak, the mind mechanical, the emotions raw, the spirit insensitive, and the person selfish.”
So, I stopped to sharpen the saw! I listed my top accomplishments; lessons learnt; and, areas of focus for the next 12 months. It was an uplifting experience and I gained reassurance that I’m still heading in the right direction. In my first two years I have published a book, had my third child and developed a solid leadership program, not a bad effort if I do say so myself!
With the up’s came the down’s…I learnt a LOT of lessons, some easy, others not so much. But if I were to share five tips to anyone, considering leaving the comfort of their 9-5 job and working for themselves, it would be:
- Know your direction – be very clear about where you want to be in the future and why. My book can help you work through your direction if you don’t know where to start.
- Don’t have a plan B – or you’ll be more likely to use it. For example, “I’m going to work for myself for a little while and if that doesn’t pan out then I’ll just get another job”. If you give yourself another option, when things get hard, which they will, a plan B can be too tempting to resist – and you’ll be back working for someone else before you know it. If you want to make your business succeed then don’t stress about having a plan B, stress about making it work!
- Keep going – when you’re starting to doubt yourself and questioning whether this is really for you, just keep going. Believe in yourself and what you do, you’ll break through eventually. For me it was around the 18-month mark before anything started to feel right.
- Prepare yourself financially – be realistic about what you’re likely to earn in your first year, budget and save so that you don’t need to worry about money…because having irregular/insufficient income can make you desperate and that will come across when you’re meeting with potential clients.
- Say ‘yes’ – I have said ‘yes’ to every opportunity that has come my way over the past two years and even though the work itself hasn’t always aligned, with the direction of my practice, it has often opened doors that do. The caveat I’ll make on this point is, if the opportunity is illegal, unethical or outside of your area of expertise you may want to politely decline. Saying yes, in these instances, could have a longer-term impact on your practice and compromise your integrity.
And finally, my focus for the next 12 months is to continue to say ‘yes’. Particularly to any speaking opportunity that comes my way. For me, these opportunities are critical to moving in the right direction and achieving my ten-year goal, which is big, scary and maybe a little ambitious…it is:
“By 2026 I will be an internationally recognised speaker travelling around the globe presenting keynotes, sharing experiences and changing the lives of thousands of people”.
There it is, out there for the world to see…I feel extremely vulnerable sharing a goal that I’m not yet sure I can achieve…but I believe that the more I say it and the more I share it the more I will actually believe it’s possible!
So, if you haven’t already taken time to reflect, perhaps now is a good time to see how you’re progressing and set some big scary arsed goals, like me! At the very least consider asking yourself:
- Am I clear on my direction?
- What have I achieved over the past year that is moving me forward?
- What failures have I taken lessons from?
- What will my focus be for the next 12 months?
Put yourself out there and share it with the world…what’s the worst that could happen!
Shelley Flett is a passionate leader with a keen focus on creating dynamic team environments through adaptable leadership. She is a leadership coach, trainer, facilitator, mentor and speaker who ignites vision and purpose in those she works with. If you’d like to know more about how she can work with you, and your team, drop her an email email@example.com.
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