Self employment is an absolute dream for most creatives. To earn a living from what you love to do, to be in charge of your own destiny and not to have to run every decision by somebody else – absolute bliss!
It’s also pretty terrifying – chances are you’ve worked really hard to get your business or service to a place where you can make it your full-time “thing” and most people find that once they’ve served out their day job notice period, a little bit of panic sets in. What if I don’t make any money? What if I can’t motivate myself to work? What if I’ve made a mistake? What if, what if, what if…?
Being self employed is a blessing – but it’s also a major lifestyle adjustment. Follow these simple steps to making the best out of your venture, without allowing the fear to paralyse you. I realise this is a very loooong post – but I hope it’s valuable to those of you stepping into the world of being your own boss for the first time.
Graze, nature gaze, do whatever you have to do to relax
Take some time off
Woah, woah – what?? Time off?? I know what you’re thinking – you worked so hard to become self employed and you’re going to start off by slacking?
It may not feel like it, but time off to relax and readjust is absolutely crucial and here’s why:
1) When you quit your job, there’s going to be a panic about making money as quickly as possible. Let me tell you, from experience, that’s a really unhealthy energy to put into your venture. You don’t ever want to be doing business from a place of desperation or anxiety. Give yourself a few days to relax and then come at your strategy with a clear and calm head.
2) You probably still have a lot of residual stress and hangups from your day job. Everyone thinks that the moment you walk out the door you’ll have this euphoric feeling, but the reality that you don’t have to go back takes a while to sink in. Take a few days to de-stress, get rid of any worries from your old work and really realise that you’ve closed the door on that chapter of your life.
Take a few days, even a few weeks, away from your desk before you start your new self employment journey – go on holiday if you can afford it, even if it’s just a cheapo trip and really separate out the two realities.
Create a beautiful work space
No more boring office desks, no more cheesy motivational posters – this little office space is all yours. Chances are that if you’re a creative person, you like to decorate everything you touch – so make your working space really you. It has to be somewhere you’re happy to sit day after day, so optimise it for comfort and style (don’t forget to assess the ergonomics as well – your back will thank you).
Get in the right mindset
Self employed doesn’t mean “available all the time”. I mean this in two ways – it doesn’t mean that you’re available all hours of the night for your clients and it doesn’t mean you’re available every second of the day for your friends. A lot of people will make assumptions that self employed = not doing anything important. Because your schedule will be more flexible, they will expect you to be able to take on things, or meet up with them at times that don’t suit you.
There’s alos a danger that, once you get into the flow of working for yourself, you’ll find it hard to separate the professional from the personal. Here are a few things you can do to help:
♥ Set, and stick to, working hours. They don’t have to be the normal working hours that other people might be used to, but make it clear that you only work and will only accept business calls during those hours. Equally, make it clear to your friends and family that you can’t chat to them during your business day.
♥ If you can afford it, have two phone lines – one for work and one for your friends. There are actually some really cheap and easy ways for you to do this, and I’m going to do a post on that at a later date. Make sure only one phone is switched on at any one time. If you really want to push the boat out, try to have two computers or devices to work from so that you don’t end up working when you’re trying to relax.
♥ Have a “work ref” – someone you love and trust, like a best friend or significant other, to make you pull the plug. It’s very easy to end up working into the small hours without realising that you haven’t stopped.
Establish a routine and rewards system
Met your deadline? Reward yourself with a nice walk. Finished that project? Watch an episode of your favourite show. A rewards system is a great way to motivate yourself when you’re having an off day, and it also breaks up the day so you’re not glued to your computer the whole time.
A routine is really important too – whether you exercise first thing or have a special cup of coffee in the morning, know how to start your day in style. Three square meals a day will also help you to stay focused and stop you from snacking out of boredom.
Have a support network
To be fair, most people who choose to work for themselves are quite introverted – but it can be quite jarring to go from being surrounded by people all the time to being on your own all day long. Social media is a great way to find and meet likeminded self employed types in your industry. Facebook groups and Twitter chats can be really beneficial and can lead to real-life friendships and regular meetups, so try to keep up your professional connections as well as your personal ones.
Get some comfy clothes
I refuse to subscribe to the belief that you have to dress a certain way to feel up for working. The whole point of working for yourself is that you get to make the rules, so forget arbitrary dress codes and umcomfortable work clothes – get yourself a nice wardrobe of PJs and lounging clothes instead. You’ll feel so much more comfortable and it’s much easier to get stuff done when you’re not distracted by itchy tights or restrictive dresses. Go on – take the leap!
Are you planning to become self employed? Or have you recently become your own boss? We’d love to hear your working from home stories in the comment box!