4 Essential Survival Tips for the Self Employed
Being self employed definitely has its moments. It’s hard not to feel a slight smug satisfaction for those of us able to spend the working day sat in a coffee shop with a laptop, free to do as we please, so long as we hit the deadlines of course. However, being self employed also comes with a number of unique challenges.
First and foremost, as a self employed individual, you will need to find your own work. Whether you work as an individual freelancer or you have aspirations of starting a fully-fledged business, hiring staff, the whole works, you will need to be able to find people to buy your services. Being self employed also means that you often don’t have a guaranteed salary from one month to the next; there will be busy times and quiet times.
If you are to stand a chance of making it in today’s hyper-competitive job market, you will need to get your business off on the right foot and then do all you can to maintain good habits. Fortunately, this is more achievable than many people realize. Being self employed can be a nightmarish and incredibly stressful experience, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some essential survival tips to ensure that you and your business can weather any storm you might face while self-employed.
Learn to Budget
It is hard to overstate just how important this advice is. First, let’s be clear about what budgeting isn’t. Budgeting is not having a vague plan of how to spend your money, and budgeting is not knowing how much money you have. Budgeting requires you to know exactly how much money you have, exactly how much money you are going to spend, and exactly what you are going to spend it on. Budgeting also means forecasting the amount of money you expect to come in and out of your business in the near future.
The first thing you want to do is get all of your business finances in order, so that you can establish exactly how much money your business has on hand. Once you have this information, you can then work out how much you will need to spend on basic upkeep such as costs of staff and premises.
You don’t need to be a math whizz to deal with the numbers. It’s a good idea to record your financial information on a spreadsheet. Check out this handy guide that will help you create a spreadsheet for your business accounts. If you don’t have Microsoft Office, Google’s cloud-based Sheets app offers the same functionality for free.
Don’t just budget in your business life either. Budgeting in your personal life is vital when you are self-employed. Should the worst happen and your business runs into difficulty, you may well need to dip into your personal finances to keep it afloat, so make sure that this won’t have a devastating impact on your finances. If your business is just about breaking even but you need more money to live on, consider whether income based loans might be right for you. Whatever funding sources you use, make sure that you consider them within the context of your wider budget.
Don’t Skimp on Equipment
It doesn’t matter what your job is, you have to make sure that you have the right tools for the task. If you are making money teaching kids how to play the guitar, make sure that your guitar and amp are in perfect working order and well maintained. If you are an app developer, ensure that you have a capable computer to code and test your apps on. If you are a writer, make sure that you have a setup that allows you to write freely and comfortably.
Investing in the right equipment will benefit your customers, who will be able to receive a higher quality of work, but it will also benefit you. You might be surprised how much difference the smallest of changes can make to your productivity and overall happiness. Think about the tools that you use every day, whether they are literal tools, pieces of software or anything else that is integral to your business.
Shop around to make sure that you have quality equipment that you enjoy using. The more comfortable and happy you are in your job, the more productive you will be.
Networking is a staple part of any entrepreneur’s diet. It is through networking that you will make new contacts and find opportunities that would otherwise have passed you by. You never know which of the people you meet might be most helpful to you in the future, nor do you know what opportunities there will be for you to help them.
Every interaction you have through your business is an opportunity to form and solidify connections with other people and businesses. Don’t let these opportunities go to waste! Always be thinking about how your interactions reflect you and your business. If you aren’t the most sociable person, try your best to swallow your anxieties and get stuck in regardless. It might take you time to build confidence, but it’s better to start now than later.
Use Social Media
Social media isn’t for everybody. There are a number of reasons why we should be encouraging one another to dial back our usage of these platforms, but for businesses they are invaluable. Facebook, and to a lesser extent other social media platforms, are ultimately very sophisticated interactive advertising platforms. The purpose of social media is to target adverts as precisely as possible to individuals.
Of course, your business would be crazy not to get in on this action. It doesn’t matter whether you are operating as a sole freelance trader or you have a full team behind you, social media will help you to get your message out there as fast and efficiently as possible.
Making it as a self employed person isn’t easy. There will inevitably be ups and downs along the way. However, for those who are able to whether the storm, being self employed is a wonderful experience. As long as you are prepared to fight to show your worth, you stand a chance of making it to the top.