Being self-employed is not for everyone. This kind of lifestyle is certainly a riskier proposition than working at a traditional job. I have just recently become self-employed. Before that, I had been working odd jobs and running my web-dev business, infinFX, on the side, since I graduated from high school in 2003. It was frustrating because I had very little time to market the business between work and school. I would often have to work 10- to 14-hour days between work, school, and marketing in order to make any business progress.
I was thinking about the steps necessary before I was able to quit my day-job at Apple and focus soley on my personal enterprises. Here are 5 steps I took to become self-employed:
1. Write out a clear plan for your life after you quit your day-job. There are many ways people can earn money on their own and many ways that they can spend their time when they are making their own schedule. It is absolutely mandatory, however, that you have a set-in-stone plan for how you are going to spend your time daily and what your 3-, 6-, and 12-month goals are.
2. Create some short-term security. Ideally, you should save up to 6 months of living expenses. When you first quit your day-job and start working full-time for yourself, you are no longer able to depend upon a regular pay-check. You may get paid one month and little the next. This is why it’s important to have a healthy savings in case the money isn’t there one month.
3. Become super committed. You must be prepared for the fact that the first few months of being self-employed are not easy and are not predictable. Be prepared for short-term failure and be willing to learn from your mistakes. Several times over the past few months I have considered getting a part-time job as I have been worried about insufficient revenue from my personal ventures.
4. Focus your energies. When a person becomes free to make their own schedule, he often becomes lazy. Traditional jobs provide a solid daily structure to many people – they know when they have to wake up, leave for work, eat lunch, etc. When that structure is taken out of the daily regiment, chaos may ensue. This is where your game-plan comes into play. Resist the urge to get comfortable and realize that being self-employed is often much more work than a traditional job.
5. Realize you are not going to become successful overnight. The rewards of self-employment are much higher, but so are the risks. It has taken me 3 months to see some financial benefits of self-employment. Persistent networking enabled me to secure 7 new clients this month.
As I stated earlier, self-employment is definitely not for everyone – some people simply prefer the predictability and security provided by a nine-to-five job. Others, such as myself, would rather set their own schedule and take the risky plunge into self-employment.
Do The Pros Outweigh the Cons?
In my experience, the pros of self-employment absolutely outweigh the cons. Self-employment has many benefits, including setting your own schedule and (generally) higher pay than working for a company. However, it may take a while to see the perks. In my first few months of being my own boss, I feared that I would spend a great deal of time networking and marketing and see very limited returns. It has only been in the past month that I have started to see the benefits of self-employment. Being completely in control of my success is a great feeling and it has motivated me to work even harder to achieve my long-term goals.