The first step in becoming self employed is in deciding what to do. Where do your interests lie and what particular skills and training have you had. Many people use this as an opportunity to re-train and do something completely different with their lives. Maybe even take up a niche or service based business.
Another factor is how much money is there available for investment in the start up, is there finance or support available and how long can you support yourself before you need to make a profit ? A franchise can sometimes be a good opportunity at a time like this, as there is already a business plan and corporate strategy in place. The truth is that 80% of new start ups fail in the first two years. 80% of the 20% that make it are franchises, but it is important to take care to choose the right business for you. Some of the answers to these questions may well mean that you have to consider reigning in some of your initial enthusiasm, or perhaps they will mean that you have to really work on putting together a solid business plan to justify getting a business loan.
Choosing what to do and how to start initially involves identifying a particular interest or skill that you have and then deciding how to market that skill. Sometimes listing those skills and then creating a brand for yourself can be an effective way of marketing yourself and your new business. Creating good quality stationery, by way of flyers, leaflets, business cards, etc, can help in promoting yourself as a professional business rather than a small scale beginner. It can be a worthwhile investment and the process of putting it all together can also help you to clarify your goals and target market.
Be aware of potential scams. Never send off money to pay for a job and check out what you are looking to get involved in. Get advice. Trust your instinct.
Sometimes looking at small companies that may need part time expertise in your field can be a good way of getting into the market, gaining experience and making connections. They may not want or be able to afford full time staff, but a part time option may be an excellent answer to their problems, whilst getting your foot in some doors and introducing yourself to relevant people.
When you are starting to work from home it is important to create a positive environment for yourself. Take yourself seriously and invest in a proper work station. Several things have to be considered and taken into account. A comfortable office chair is an important investment – you will no doubt be spending a lot of time in it, at least at first. Portable office equipment is useful, as it can be stored away when not being used. A filing system is essential, especially if you are working in different companies or on different projects. Convenient telephone access is vital and a telephone extension socket for your computer.
Keeping motivated can be a challenge as working on your own or from home can be lonely at times. Structure each day. Have a routine where you get up, have a shower, sort out the family, get ready for work. Aim to start at a certain time each day. Proper breaks for coffee or lunch are important, and be sure to use these breaks to get some fresh air if possible, so that you get out of the office for a little while.
Use contacts from your previous business life to keep up-dated in what is going on in the wider business world. Think of making use of networking opportunities by joining some of the business clubs and associations, looking out for conferences and using the internet social media connections to let potential clients know about you and what you have to offer.
Self esteem can sometimes be hard to maintain, especially if you were in a high-powered job and are now starting out again from scratch. Appreciate that it can take time to define your new role and the boundaries at first may feel a little unsure or uneasy.Working from home as well as running a home can sometimes become hard to separate and it may be important to get help at first to allow you to concentrate on getting the new venture off the ground. Sometimes a supportive partner is available to help. Other times it may be worth paying someone to help with the domestic chores so that you can really focus on what you need to be doing with your time.
Susan Leigh, Counsellor and Hypnotherapist
About this authorSusan Leigh is a long established Counsellor and Hypnotherapist, with over twenty years experience. She is a member of several professional organisations and is committed to a programme of Continuous Professional Development.
She started the practice in 1988 with her husband Frederick, and after being widowed at the age of 39, took over the practice full time.
Prior to working as a Counsellor, Susan worked for many years with a blue chip company and has experienced the stresses of balancing a corporate and personal life. Now she balances writing regularly for many organisations, is a regular contributor to BBC radio and has a thriving Counselling and Hypnotherapy practice. She works with individuals, helping them cope better with the pressures of daily life, works with couples to provide relationship counselling and improve communications, and in business to provide support to staff members and teams. She has had a lot of success working with clients with unexplained infertility in women and also with managing pain in childbirth. Many of her clients have successfully gone on to become pregnant and have a positive experience of giving birth. For more information see www.lifestyletherapy.net