[07.11.13]
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5 Challenges of Being Your Own Boss

consulting, solo practitioner, self-employment, portfolio careerThis is a guest blog post by Kelly Donovan on self employment challenges.

I bought a new car last week. Filling out the credit application reminded me that I have now been 100% self-employed for five years. This is a mind-boggling thought for me!

Being your own boss has self employment challenges, but also has many rewards. If you’re currently employed or looking for a job, you might wonder if starting your own consulting business or portfolio career might be a good idea.

The answer is “it depends.” Self-employment isn’t for everyone, and the statistics on failures of business startups are staggering.

But if you have the ability to overcome the most common self employment challenges people face when they go solo, you might have a shot.

Here are what I have found to be the biggest self employment challenges of being my own boss—and how you can overcome them.

5 Self Employment Challenges

Finding Direction

In a corporate environment, the company’s mission statement and products or services are well-established. You’re given a clearly defined role with a list of responsibilities.

When you fly solo, determining your company’s focus and your individual duties is completely up to you. This can be difficult for many people (it was for me the first couple years, and it impeded my progress).

Before setting up shop, you need to clearly define your mission, the customers you will serve, and precisely how you will help them. See Tim’s advice about creating a tangible product or service in Tip #6 of his post about non-traditional jobs.

If you decide to create more than one business, be sure to determine your priorities for time and dollars before you start. Otherwise, you will struggle every month deciding what to do with your time and money.

Staying Motivated

At a job, the risk of disappointing the boss often keeps us motivated to work hard and finish tasks we don’t enjoy.

As a self-employed person, it’s easy to be motivated to complete tasks for customers since there are dollars tied to those tasks. But finishing other, non-billable, tasks requires self-motivation.

Try reminding yourself of the goal you’re trying to achieve, and how each task ties into that goal.

You can also look into outsourcing tasks you don’t enjoy. Even with a tiny budget, you can usually find someone well-qualified at an affordable rate on a site like Elance.com. This can be either for a one-day project or ongoing work.

Establishing And Improving Systems

If you’re fortunate enough to start getting busy with customers, you need to have good systems in place to maximize efficiency. Fine tuning systems is an ongoing challenge and one I’m working on this year.

When you first start your business, do a careful analysis of what process and procedures will be most efficient for serving your customers. Do some research into what types of glitches your competitors have in their systems and try to devise better practices.

Then, continue to assess and analyze the effectiveness of your systems and improve them all the time.

Getting Known And Attracting Business

Clearly, marketing and sales are the lifeblood of any company, so getting known and attracting customers need to be your top goal as a new business owner.

Do your research and find out what types of marketing and networking will make the most sense for your business, your situation, and your target audience.

Early on in my business, I spent an extraordinary amount of time participating in unfocused “networking” activities that required me to drive a long distance from my home. Looking back on it, I can see that I could have used my time more wisely.

Having To Do Things You Don’t Enjoy

If you think being self-employed means you’re going to enjoy everything you do, think again.

Even if you love your work and outsource tasks you don’t like, there are still going to be unpleasant tasks and situations you’ll have to deal with.

A wise business mentor taught me the importance of accepting that I’m not going to enjoy certain tasks. I just need to get through them and not let them bother me.

Every job has components that aren’t fun, and being self-employed is no different. Dealing with the not-so-fun parts of your business is ultimately a small price to pay for the freedom and flexibility you can have as a business owner.

And, don’t forget about money…

In addition to these five common self employment challenges, one final consideration is finances—the downfall of most startups. Gaining momentum can take a little while, so you need to make sure you have savings or other income so you can eat while you’re building your business.

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Thanks joncandy for the great photo via Flickr.


Written by: Kelly Donovan
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Categories: Career Advice

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