There are an estimated 10 million self-employed jobs in the United States, according to Career Builder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. People choose to become self-employed for a number of reasons, but Forbes reports that there are several signs that you are meant to be self-employed, including the fact that you want more flexibility in your schedule, you don’t work well with others, you’re passionate about your work, and you’re resourceful.
Once you decide to take the big step to becoming self-employed, you have to come up with a plan. Then, once you actually get your business going, there are steps you should take to make self-employment work for you, and these steps go beyond just having your idea succeed. You also need to figure out how to make the actual state of being self-employed work without getting overwhelmed. Here are five ways you can make self-employment work for you.
1. Come up with an idea and a plan
If you are not yet your own boss, the first step you need to take to become your own boss is to think of an idea. Hopefully, if you are considering self-employment, you already have one. Once you have your idea, though, you’re not finished. You need to come up with a plan for how you are going to execute your idea.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, you should first write a business plan — then, you should partake in any free training you can get, find a location, and register for taxes, among other important steps. Starting a business might not seem that daunting, but it requires more than just an idea. The better you plan, the more likely you will start your business off right.
2. Market your business continually
Once you are ready to start your business, you need to come up with marketing strategies. You need to analyze the area in which you are creating your business, or, if you are planning to market to a national audience, you need to figure out how to do that. Once you know your target audience, you have to determine how to reach them. Much of this will be done through advertising.
It’s important to heavily advertise when you start your business, but it’s also important to continue to use marketing strategies as your business grows. Don’t assume that if you have a successful start, your business will continue to be successful. Often businesses grow via word of mouth, so it’s also important to make sure that you are keeping your customers or clientele happy, as well.
3. Get support
Financial backing is crucial to the success of many businesses. Unless you have a lot of extra money and you are willing to take a big hit if your business doesn’t succeed, you will need help. You can start by asking your friends and family, but don’t put pressure on them. You also can try recruiting business contacts or people who will have a vested interest in your business plan.
You can also consider taking on a business partner to lessen the financial blow and the responsibility. According to Chron, you should figure out how much you will need for startup costs, and you can try to network within the U.S. Small Business Association. If you already have your own business, continuing to network and maintaining relationships with key investors is also very important.
4. Be flexible
Flexibility is important when you are trying to create an idea, establish a plan, implement the plan, and then succeed as a self-employed worker. Things will not always go as you expect. It might take longer than you anticipated to complete all the logistical aspects of starting a business, or you might not get the financial backing that you need as fast as you would like. One of your investors might need to back out after you already started the business.
Anything can happen, and being flexible and maintaining a good attitude will help you keep working hard to make sure you succeed. You also will need to be flexible about the hours that you work. If you are used to a 9 to 5 job, it may take time to be comfortable working at all different times and sometimes having to put in many extra hours.
5. Choose the right employees
Perhaps your business needs will be completed entirely by you, in which case you won’t need to hire anyone. If this is the case, you will need to make sure that you maintain a steady work ethic, that you keep a competitive attitude, and that you are extremely organized and take time management seriously.
If you do hire employees, take time to really choose good ones. Per The Muse, a résumé is not enough to tell you everything you need to know about a potential employee. Often people who write strong cover letters and follow up later can be separated from other applicants who are not serious. If possible, you can also implement trial periods for new employees.
Most important, make sure that the person you are hiring can really do what you need him or her to, and that he or she is a person that you are willing to work regularly with. While the idea of your business is important, your employees may make or break your ability to be self-employed, because they will be doing much of the work and client interactions themselves.
If you have the drive to plan correctly, the motivation and organization to implement your plan, and the financial backing and right employees to succeed, you may be on your way to a long career as your own boss.