The Realities of Being Self-Employed

business womenWritten for EO by Ken Boyd, a former CPA who creates accounting and personal finance content. 

“Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

This quote, attributed to Thomas Edison, captures the reality of being self-employed. Working for yourself allows you to capitalize on opportunities that may not be available to you as an employee. However, seizing the opportunity may require far more work hours and responsibility than you spend at a traditional job.

That’s the trade off.

So, before you abandon life as an employee in favor of launching your own startup or becoming your own boss, consider these top realities of self-employment.

The Realities

A recent study of 500 self-employed respondents conducted by QuickBooks Self-Employed reveals some interesting truths of being self employed:

  • More hours: 14% of those surveyed work 50 hours a week, and more than 10% of work more than 50 hours in a given week. The self-employed are also working weekends, with 32% of respondents working every weekend.
  • Vacation: Most of those surveyed take vacation, and 32% take a week of vacation each year. However, 30% of the respondents worked regularly or often while on vacation.
  • Concerns: This group had concerns that are common for self-employed people. 23% of respondents stated that work concerns often kept them up at night, and that cash flow ranked as the biggest concern for those surveyed.

How you would respond to these questions? How many hours are you working, and are you able to take time off? What is the quality of your vacation time? Do you have the personality, the drive, and the energy make it as self-employed person? 

What Does It Take?

So, what personality traits does it take to succeed in the self-employed world? After 19 years as a self-employed person, I’ll give you my list of must-have qualities:

  • Resilience: This is the most important word in the English language. Resilience is the ability to get back up after failure and keep moving forward. Sure, employees need resilience, but self-employed people need far more, because there are so many variables that can go wrong. After all, you’re responsible for marketing, producing the work or service, invoicing, and collecting money. 
  • Self-awareness: You need the ability to be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and find people who can help you in your areas of weakness. We all have weaknesses, so fill in the gaps.
  • The abilty to say no: You can’t please everyone, so don’t try. And, it may be counter-intuitive, but no self-employed person can succeed unless they turn away some business. If you’re going to work on your own, play to your strengths, and take on work that fits your strengths.

Ask yourself: do you have these personal traits? 

Now, you can develop some of traits over time. In my case, I think I’ve always had the first two traits, but the need to please was tough for me. It’s taken years of self-discipline to turn away work that wasn’t a fit for me.

The Payoff

While the work hours and responsibility are greater for self-employed people, the personal satisfaction of working on your own can be rewarding.

In addition, you can jump into interesting projects that you could never take on as an employee. If an opportunity comes your way, you can take on an exciting project and reduce the time spent with other clients. Last, but not least, you have the ability to earn far more income as a self-employed person.

Take Some Time

Striking out on your own is a big decision, both professionally and financially, so take some time to think. Ask the people who know you best if self-employment fits your personality and your strengths.

Most important, realize that you’ll face more challenges as a self-employed professional. If you’re resilient and adaptable to change, working on your own can be rewarding.

Ken Boyd is the author of Cost Accounting for Dummies, Accounting All-In-One for Dummies, The CPA Exam for Dummies, and 1,001 Accounting Questions for Dummies. You can find his blog, YouTube channel links, and other information at accountingaccidentally.com.

 

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5 Tips for Smart Scaling

Written for EO by Christina Sanders 

You’ve started a business, and it’s taking off. It’s a great feeling.

Now, the next hurdle is quickly heading your way: scaling. Taking your business to the next level can be a challenge—but only if you’re not prepared for it.

Here are a few lessons that I learned from scaling my own business, plus advice on avoiding the obstacles I experienced. 

1. You Need a Plan

“I want to scale my business” isn’t a plan. To scale successfully, you need a specific list of goals and tactics.

Those goals should be reasonable and measurable (think SMART), and the tactics need to be customized to your business. For example, I was able to expand my business by creating a stronger presence on LinkedIn.

That might not work for you.

Take time to lay out a plan that’s well-thought-out and well-researched. You’ll save a ton of time in the long run.

Hear directly from the master of scaling, Verne Harnish, during EO’s weeklong virtual learning event, EO 24/7. Programming begins Monday 12 November, 2018. Register now!

2. Resources Don’t Manage Themselves

While you’re planning your scaling tactics, make sure to keep your schedules, resources, and files organized. You’ll need to coordinate more employees, keep more projects and tasks aligned, and find a way to manage an ever-increasing amount of marketing materials.

Invest in the tools to keep everything organized earlier rather than later. It’s a lot easier to establish superior organization practices before you grow. Investments like project management software, a marketing resource management system, and an effective customer relationship management (CRM) program go a long way.

3. Identify a Source for Funding

Scaling your business typically is not cheap. Determine if you’ll be hiring employees, increasing production, or investing in software.

Yes, you’ll be able to pay for these things when you start bringing in more money. But most of that needs to happen before you scale, not after.

That means you need to bring in capital. Will you get a business loan? Pursue funding? Put up your own cash? Any of those will work. But you need to set your plan and your goals for profit and paying off any loans.

4. Focus on Your Customers

If you’ve gotten to the point where you’re scaling your business, you’ve clearly made a habit of delighting your customers.

Don’t lose sight of that.

It’s easy to get too focused on your business when you’re scaling. Remember that, without exception, successful businesses are customer-focused. It’s not about your financial goals or your growth roadmap—it’s about how well you’re meeting the needs of your customers.

Customer focus is what drives business success, and scaling is no exception.

5. Invest in Employees

Your employees drive your business. They’re the beginning and end of your scaling process.

There’s a reason that big companies offer amazing perks and great pay—because they know their employees are the key to their continued growth and success.

Find the money to make certain your employees are happy with their pay and involve them in the scaling process. They’re an invaluable resource.

Scale Smart

Scaling your business is exciting—but don’t let that excitement get the better of you. Start with a solid plan and build from there. You’ll be glad you did.

Christina Sanders is a marketing expert with nearly a decade of experience in digital marketing and communications. She is currently an associate manager at Lucidpress, a design and brand management platform. Connect with Christina on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The post 5 Tips for Smart Scaling appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

5 Books to Motivate a Digital Nomad

Written for EO by Jason Mueller.

Nothing beats having the freedom to work remotely from a coffee shop in Copenhagen, a bistro in Italy or maybe from a cabana in Costa Rica. For many, life as a digital nomad can be rewarding, exciting and inspiring.

If working remotely as a digital nomad sounds like la bella vita to you—but you need that extra push or you simply want to prepare—then you’ll want to explore these books!

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This book is a boundless resource for not only people who want to live a successful life as a digital nomad, but for anyone who needs encouragement and direction to boost their faith in their own decisions and accomplish goals in life. While written in the 1930s, Think and Grow Rich has long been listed at the top of motivational books that truly change lives.

2. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

This is the perfect book for teaching what being rich really means, and how you can have financial success in the future with the steps you take today. It explains the difference between working hard and building assets. Perfect for anyone who longs for shorter work hours to allow for more adventures!

3. Unshakable by Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins has long been known as the top lifestyle and business coach in the world, and this book gets to the core of how to maximize your finances to achieve financial freedom. As a digital nomad, knowing how to start and then continue earning while you’re traveling is key to living successfully overseas.

4. Choose Yourself by James Altucher

James Altucher shows his readers how to invest in themselves to achieve greatness. If you’re feeling unsure about pursuing your ultimately goals and lifestyle, this books provides perfect motivation. Plus, it’s a great read for those long plane trips! Learn how to ‘choose yourself’ to live a life of freedom and happiness.

5. The Power of Broke by Daymond John

Many wanderers have little money to travel when they start out, but thanks to Daymond John and his book The Power of Broke, you’ll quickly see why having little can lead to great things. Even starting a business when you have little money to back it can be the start of a life of success. Hard work and determination and knowing how to use your resources wisely will help you connect with clients. It’s also a great guide for making personal connections and living life to the fullest when you’re moving from one place to the next.

Jay Mueller is an entrepreneur and traveler. He writes for A1AutoTransport.com. If you are an entrepeneur who values discovery, learning and inspiration, check out how to apply for membership in EO.

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