Eight Secrets of Successful Self Employment

I’ve been self employed for nearly ten years now. Anyone who tells you it’s easy is lying. It is fulfilling. There’s a big difference. It does bring a level of freedom and autonomy that some people will thrive on. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about being self employed and what the key requirements are to making it work.

1. Perseverance

Nobody hands you a pay cheque. £1500 doesn’t just flop into your account month after month. Sometimes you go through a famine where there isn’t much work OR money coming in. You need to be able to persevere. Sometimes you have difficult clients or rubbish work projects. You have to persevere. At the beginning you may have to work hours on end for little or no money. You have to persevere.

2. Doing the do

Every day you have to get up, have a shower, and go to your desk and do some work. The people who don’t do that are unemployed not self employed. ‘Self employed’ suggests the need to actually do some work. Even passive income can only get you so far. You still need to do the do. In ten years there hasn’t been one day when I haven’t done some kind of work connected to my business or income streams.

3. Flexibility

It’s correct to say that being self employed offers flexibility, but you have to be flexible in return. Sometimes you have to work late, and sometimes you have to get up early again the next morning to start all over again. You also have to be prepared to take less exciting work just to make sure you stay in the black.

4. Skills

You need to keep your skills up to date. You can’t coast it. You have to continue to develop at the same rate or faster than if you were employed. If you haven’t set aside time for training then you’re making a big mistake.

5. A Reason Why

You need to make sure that the pros of self employment outweigh the cons.

These are mine; I will get up everyday and go to my desk, I will work long hours, I will be flexible and train myself and commit to goal setting and financial planning because I know that my being self employed is what’s best for my family. I have a clear reason why, and when things get difficult I can look at my reason why and see that is bigger than any difficulty I am facing.

6. Financial Planning

That famine I talked about earlier? Well unless you want to starve then you should try and smooth the ups and downs with savings or an emergency fund. The work and income is not guaranteed, no matter how much you think it is (that goes for employment too).

7. Goal Setting

Nobody is planning your career for you. If you want to be successful you need to start goal setting. On the days when you can’t remember your own name, or you don’t have any motivation you need to have something to refer to that will tell you what you need to do. And then you just do the do.

8. Personal Development

Commit to it. There will be lots of times when you get your confidence knocked or you need another ounce of confidence to do what you need to do. Personal development will give you that. Make it a half an hour daily habit. Books, cd’s, blogs, inspiring newsletters, TED Talks videos are all tools that I use. You can focus on specific aspects of personal development or take a random approach. Either way commit to at least half an hour a day.

8 replies
  1. Rosa Lee
    Rosa Lee says:

    I would love to set myself as a freelance journalist, as I got a degree in media, but never had the right support to set myself up. Do not know how to go on about it. Need some more practical advice and support. Well done to you and those who have done it for themselves.

  2. Donna @ Little Lilypad Co
    Donna @ Little Lilypad Co says:

    Thanks for this Erica, its a very simple reminder that the aspirations we have, ARE achievable, we just have to work to get them! I have taken on some exciting freelance work this year and I am convinced 2013 is going to be a great year!

  3. Alicia Helman
    Alicia Helman says:

    Hi Erica, I have followed some of your emails over the years and admire your work and your insights. I agree with everything you say. I recently took the plunge to fulfil my ambition and become a freelance VA. It may not be easy but it is very rewarding, especially the learning new skills part. To your (and my) continued success!
    Kind regards,
    Alicia Helman

  4. Clare
    Clare says:

    Some great tips – and realistic too. We do all have to realise that you can’t get the benefits without the graft. I might have to pin these next to my desk!


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