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Wellbeing / Working alone

The realities of being self employed

If you are enticed by the idea of being self employed, you need to be realistic about what it entails. If you’re just starting out, or you’re wondering why on earth you thought this was a good idea, read on.

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Beating the isolation factor

This is the most obvious drawback of being self employed. But, more than just being lonely, it can be difficult to maintain motivation when there is nobody around you.

There are many ways to counteract your isolation such as interacting with clients, joining a networking group, meeting up with other local self employed people or even a short walk around the neighbourhood. It doesn’t need to be all work and no play. A lunch or coffee date with a friend is a great way to banish boredom. You might not be able to complain about the boss any more, but you should be able to find something to talk about!

Juggling being self employed with a young family

One reason many of us become self employed, is to give us the freedom to spend more time with our family. Whilst you certainly have the flexibility to set your own hours, being self employed and having a new family can sometimes seem completely incompatible.

Decide at the beginning how much time you want to devote to your business and don’t feel that you have to conquer the world in a matter of weeks. Perhaps consider a compromise to having your kids around all the time by opting for part-time care. There are many childcare options to suit both your and your children’s needs.

"Decide at the beginning how much time you want to devote to your business and don’t feel that you have to conquer the world in a matter of weeks."

Making self employment work takes more than just turning up

Unless you have vast experience in sales or business development, generating work and leads will be something completely foreign to you. But, the reality of being self employed is that, if you want to do what you love, you’re going to have to spend time doing something you probably hate.

Knowing how to market yourself is essential. But one thing that might not be emphasised in the books and courses is that it will be difficult and demoralising at first. Take it at a pace you can handle and make sure you reward yourself along the way.

Want more articles like this? Check out the working alone section.

Being self employed means you don’t have secretaries and an accounts department

When you’re self employed, you will find that a lot of your time isn’t spent doing ‘what you do’. As well as the initial and on-going business development, there is a lot of administration that you have to deal with. Keep your accounts and other administrative tasks a manageable part of your working day by tackling them regularly and on-time.

If you have a lot of clients that you need to keep tabs on, it might be a good idea to employ a professional to help with your accounts rather than trying to be all things to all people. Customer Resource Management (CRM) software might also be a good investment to keep your client records accurate and up-to-date.

You need the drive to succeed

Although this seems like an obvious statement, many solo careers fail because they were a romantic ideal. When you take on the reality of self employment, it suddenly becomes scary and uncertain. If you can harness the fear to inspire you to move forward, perhaps changing tactics, rather than feeling that it’s all hopeless, then you’re on the right path to making it a success.

Knowing some of the difficulties of attempting a solo business life will not make them any less – they will still happen. But, at least you will know that you are not alone, so to speak! If you can hang on to your reasons for going it alone and are philosophical about the realities that you face on a daily basis, then being self employed can give you great satisfaction and, with any luck, a sustainable lifestyle in the process.

Karen Morris

, owner of Underground Communications, is a PR consultant and business copywriter with over 20 years’ experience in writing communications designed to grab an audience and deliver a clear message for her clients.

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