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.

 

The post The Realities of Being Self-Employed appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

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.

9 Ways Entrepreneurs Are Like Superheroes

entrepreneurs are today's superheroes

A version of this article originally appeared on the EO Melbourne blog. The content has been edited and reprinted here with permission.

Stories of entrepreneurs overcoming early obstacles and ultimately achieving success on their journey can be found on every blog or business site. And these tales leave many of us thinking, “Wow! They did all that?” Some people even regard today’s entrepreneurs as modern day heroes or, even, superheroes.

With superhero movies debuting regularly on the big screen, it’s natural to make the comparison. After all, those caped crusaders and masked heroes may have awesome moves and incredible powers, they are essentially hardworking individuals overcoming challenges in often unexpected and bold ways.

Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of superheroes and spot the parallels with entrepreneurs.

1. Superheroes often start as underdogs.

Even heroes get bullied and experience hardships early in their lives. It’s when they experience being at the bottom that they set their sights for the top. It’s also when they realize the shared pain of so many others.

For superheroes—and entrepreneurs—it’s often this early suffering that ignites a passionate drive to help others and save the world. It motivates them to push forward and reach for their dreams—to leap without looking.

2. Superheroes must learn to master their power.

Upon discovering the power they hold, superheroes don’t jump up immediately and start saving the world. In fact, one of the biggest challenges for young superheroes is learning to control their power and wield it for good. They inevitably make missteps and must continue refining their understanding of superpowers.

Likewise, having a super idea, a super personality or a super brain for business does not make you a successful entrepreneur. Growing a business takes time, and continuous learning. Patience truly is a virtue for both superhero and entrepreneur.

3. Symbols are significant.

Superman wears his red cape. Captain America carries his shield. Batman dons his mask. These signature looks let others identify them easily.

Without a doubt, branding is important in building your reputation. It helps people identify and connect with your personality, product and services. Particularly in today’s visually focused world, marketing matters. Keep your look—whether it’s a signature color or logo—consistent across platforms to establish your brand and attract followers.

4. Responsibilities, responsibilities, responsibilities.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” Peter Parker’s uncle Ben said in the Spiderman movie. Being a superhero is no joke! You will work round the clock, and must reply to even the most harrowing calls for help. Hardworking superheroes often sacrifice their family, friends and loved ones. Plus, their superpowers have limits. Ultimately, their powers are intended for the good of others and not for selfish gains.

Consider everything that entrepreneurs are juggling! Besides running a company—and the leadership, strategy, sales and downright hard work that business requires—there’s family, friends, networking and personal interests. For entrepreneurs, work is life and life is work. Many are so passionate about their business that they sacrifice their personal lives and even their health.

Striving for the balance of responsibilities in all aspects of your life becomes critical to the long-term viability and wellness of both your business and your self.

5. Heroes save the world, but they also need to be saved.

Superheroes save lives. They fight crimes. They rescue those in need. But, they often have a sidekick or at least a little help from their superhero friends.

Despite their powers, superheroes often need a hero themselves.

Leading a company can be a lonely position. The responsibility to run a successful business and support employees can be impossible to bear. Remember: Behind every successful entrepreneur is a family, a loved one or, if you’re lucky, a network of other entrepreneurs who provide support and advice.

6. It’s not just the cape that makes superheroes fly.

Sure, some superheroes can fly. But it’s not just their cape that helps them defy the force of gravity. Wind propels them upward and helps them soar like a bird.

The most well-known entrepreneurs attribute much of their success to an effective team that helps them achieve their goals. Hiring the right staff members is one of the many obstacles early-stage entrepreneurs must tackle. However, once they’ve placed the right people in the right roles, they can achieve goals by leaps and bounds.

7. For every superhero, there is a villain.

There’s no hero without a villain. Villains wreak havoc and create chaos for humanity. They add excitement to the story, and they also keep the superhero busy!

In business, “villains” create a dent in a brand or a venture. They compete for clients or employees. The smartest entrepreneurs will learn from these enemies and build their business in spite of the competition. It’s these villains who help mould your business and also develop your leadership and business savvy.

8. Joining a league is an “in” thing.

There’s the Justice League, the Avengers and the X-Men. We love it when heroes band together to fight a greater evil. There’s strength in numbers—and the more diverse powers they can pool, the stronger they become.

At some point in their journey, business owners realize the benefit of being with like-minded individuals who can relate to their struggles. Inevitably, mature entrepreneurs wish they’d realized the value of learning from others earlier in their journey.

For thousands of entrepreneurs across the globe, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization is this band of brothers and sisters who support and guide each other. Members emphasize the many ways that EO enriches their business and personal lives. 

9. The battle is endless.

As long as there is evil in this world, superheroes are here to stay. Their mission is ongoing.

Most entrepreneurs say that the challenges never stop. Once you’ve figured out one aspect of business, another challenge—or opportunity to learn—crops up. Thus growth is ongoing. For every victory, there is a new goal.

According to Christopher Reeve, the American actor who portrayed the role of Superman, “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” For many entrepreneurs, this characterization probably sounds very familiar.

Are you a superhero entrepreneur looking for your league? Check out why entrepreneurs join EO.

 

The post 9 Ways Entrepreneurs Are Like Superheroes appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

Learning to Listen to Your Heart

Written by Claire Algarme, EO Melbourne administrator

Peninsula Luxury Retreats founder Peter Noble had carved his path as an entrepreneur by launching and running Citrus, a marketing automation business, for almost 20 years. Along the way, the marketing landscape changed, the trail transformed and his passion cooled. Feeling tired of the grind, he reflected on what he wanted to do going forward. In 2016, Peter made the bold decision to close his business and embark on a new journey in the hospitality space. Here’s his story. 

It was in 2015 when Peter Noble attended an EO Melbourne forum retreat in Byron Bay. Despite feeling ill, Peter pressed on. He didn’t want to miss the retreat, where a meditation teacher would be sharing Ayurvedic techniques. His wife, Kristina, had been practicing it for three months, and he had noticed positive changes in her. Peter left the retreat feeling better and lighter, and he continued his meditation practice, even through a family move to Sydney the same year.

“I came out of a meditation session by the beach in Sydney, and it just hit me like a lightning bolt. I realized I was not enjoying the business part of my life. I didn’t feel that I could be true to my staff by coming in and talking about the vision for the business anymore. I needed to get out. I wanted to be true to myself,” he says.

“I didn’t feel that I could be true to my staff by coming in and talking about the vision for the business anymore. I needed to get out. I wanted to be true to myself.”

From the moment he decided to close to the actual date of closure, a mere four weeks passed. He flew to Melbourne and broke the news to his Citrus staff members. “It was very emotional, but they also understood. They were proud of me, and they were happy that I was truthful. I made a promise to each one of them that they would have a new job within those four weeks. We delivered on every single person,” recalls Peter.

Mentally, physically and spiritually, it was a difficult time in his life. He needed to unwind and re-calibrate his life. Peter and his family took an extended break to Europe for eight months. Reflecting on his entrepreneurial journey to this point, Peter understood he had opted for an unlikely exit. Entrepreneurs generally either build a business that lasts a lifetime or sell the business and move on to another one.

First launch

When he decided to start Citrus, he was working for a multinational company. He felt a burning desire to hit the road and launch his own business.

“I felt like I had more to offer and could impact more people by going out on my own. I felt I needed to get out and do something and show myself—more than anyone else—that I could thrive, not just survive, in the entrepreneurial world. The desire builds up in you over time. Eventually, you have to make a decision to either jump and see if you fly or just stay where you are. I decided to jump,” he says.

“The desire builds up in you over time. Eventually, you have to make a decision to either jump and see if you fly or just stay where you are. I decided to jump.”

He started Citrus with his wife and sister-in-law. While a business partnership with a spouse could be a challenge for many entrepreneurs, Peter and Kristina found their personal and business relationship to be a winning recipe. Says Peter, “For us, it was a very major part of our success as a couple, and we’re still married 20 years later. So, it worked obviously, which was good. But it was a little scary.”

Staffing, culture and ego

As with all new businesses, Citrus weathered challenges and opportunities. “We had a difficult start because there was the dot-com boom back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was a bizarre time to be in the space where we were at that point. There was this incredible excitement globally about what the internet could do for business and humanity. We were on the cusp of that. Our business was within the digital marketing space. It was very new,” he explains.

With the rapid rise in the web and digital marketing, young employees were being hired and poached by top agencies. Since Peter and his partners couldn’t afford to match the salaries that larger corporations offered, Citrus lost some staff members. Among those who remained, a strong bond developed.

“The challenge is how to build a team that has the skills you need, the culture you’re trying to build and an understanding of the vision you want to create. When you’re busy being busy, it’s sometimes difficult to sit back and look at the bigger picture of things and ensure that the team you have are the right people.”

The team culture, employee and client relationships as well as the company’s relatively small cost base helped it survive when the financial crash eventually came.

“Business is about relationships and how you build them, whether they’re done online or face-to-face. They are very critical parts of a successful business, whether they be with staff or customers or partners,” Peter says.

“Business is about relationships and how you build them, whether they’re done online or face-to-face.”

When two buyers expressed interest, they eventually provided the same feedback: “They said, ‘while it’s a great business, we feel that you are such an integral part of it that it’s too reliant on you as an individual.’”

Looking back, Peter realized that there was a lot of ego associated with holding on to the business. He became so attached to his venture that he was afraid to let it go. “I thought I was very important to a whole lot of people. Very quickly, though, you realize how unimportant you are when you step away,” he says.

Support and guidance

The pressures of running a business also took a toll on him. Peter found support and guidance from other entrepreneurs through EO Melbourne. “Fellow forum members were able to provide the right guiding experiences, ideas and friendship. I have made some of my best friends in my life through EO.”

He took a break from the organization, but rejoined two years later. Peter reveals, “I was looking at re-imagining the Citrus business. I thought to myself, I’ve stopped thinking big. I’ve stopped thinking as a visionary. I’ve stopped looking at the possibilities of the business. I remembered then what EO had done for me, and how much I’d enjoyed being part of that group. I don’t think we were successful at the time I wasn’t in EO. So, I rejoined, and I haven’t looked back since then.”

“I don’t think we were successful at the time I wasn’t in EO. So, I rejoined, and I haven’t looked back since then.”

Inspiration to happiness 

It was the EO community that helped Peter find his way from the business he no longer loved to a tour through Europe with his family. While traveling through the continent, Peter and Kristina put a few of their properties in the short-stay accommodation market, including Airbnb and HomeAway.

“Interestingly, we made more money while we were traveling around Europe and not working than we had in the previous six to 12 months of running the agency. When I got home, I thought, ‘Hang on. There’s got to be something in this.’ So, I decided to take on building a portfolio of properties that we could own, manage and run. That’s been building successfully over the last couple of years,” he shares.

With his new baby, the Peninsula Luxury Retreats, he has never been happier. “We’re looking into buying more land and building some properties. I’m doing that with a partner, and we’re going to build that into a brand in these luxury retreats. We think that it’s a really exciting opportunity based on the market that’s here in Australia and overseas,” he disclosed.

Most of all, he is happy that he can now devote more time to his daughter. “She was born in 2011, and for the first two or three years, I missed so much of her growth. I would leave before she had woken up and get home after she’d gone to bed. As a dad, I missed so many things in my child’s early development that I can’t get back. What I’ve been able to do now is achieve complete flexibility and freedom. I think my relationship with my daughter has changed. We get to spend a lot more time together.”

“As a dad, I missed so many things in my child’s early development that I can’t get back. What I’ve been able to do now is achieve complete flexibility and freedom.”

Peter found the courage to make the big leap because he trusted his inner self. “The biggest lesson? Listen to your heart. Listen to what is important for you as an individual. If you’re not happy, if your work is a grind, if it’s a slog, if you’re unable to listen to what’s going on inside, then it will stay difficult,” he counsels.

Read more about Peter Noble. To learn about EO and how it supports entrepreneurs across the globe, visit EOnetwork.org.

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