About 14 million Americans are self-employed, according to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re one of them, you already know how being your own boss can give you the freedom to set your own schedule, make your own rules and take greater control of your salary.
But there’s a flip side to all that freedom. If you’re self-employed, it’s up to you to light a fire under your own chair, or to give you emotional or financial support, when you need it. Plus: All those processes and infrastructures that companies have in place are systems you have to create from scratch.
To transition from being an employee to being your own boss, you’ll need to adopt a set of disciplines. Here are five good tips to help you adjust.
1. Keep a regular schedule. Set the alarm for the same time every day. Then shower and dress for success – if you look like you’re out in the workforce, you’ll perform like you’re out in the workforce. List the tasks you need to accomplish each day – and maybe even the distractions you must avoid (like checking your social media hourly).
2. Build a support network. Make an effort to meet people in your field and stay in touch with the ones you already know. You’ll find it easier to locate new opportunities, keep up with industry news and trends, find support from others who work for themselves and avoid solitary confinement.
3. Stay organized, Getting organized and creating workflow systems is a time investment that pays again and again. Whether you employ a whiteboard to keep track of projects, software to log client hours or a filing system to keep your desk (or desktop) clear, making the effort to keep everything neat will help you ditch distractions.
4. Stay relevant. When you’re out in the workforce, new technology is often thrust upon you, whether you seek it or not. But when you’re flying solo, you could easily miss out on the newest marketing tactic or business software. Make sure you don’t fall behind. Keep reading trade publications and blogs, stay in touch with those in the field and attend industry conferences.
5. Budget your income. When your business profits, you may be tempted to keep all that income and call it your salary…and then spend it. A better plan: Figure out how much you’ll need to meet your monthly obligations (including your quarterly tax payments) as well as how much to set aside for savings goals, such as business development, retirement, college tuition and a new home. What’s left is your disposable income.
Follow these tips, and you’ll have a much easier time transitioning to being your own boss. From there, you can focus your energies on how to make a profitable and successful business.
Have you ever broke out on your own to become your own boss? How did you adjust?