3 Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Self Employed
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Well, I did it. I’ve been self-employed for one year now, and I’m still self-employed. That means I didn’t quit. I didn’t fail. I didn’t decide that a 9-5 gig was safer and better after all. I stayed the course, and it feels awesome, even though there were many moments I was ready to pull my hair out.
For example, very early on, during my second day of self-employment, I got an e-mail from a client saying they quit their blog and no longer needed me as a writer. So, almost immediately out of the gate, I lost a few hundred dollars of my monthly projected income, a number I had calculated a million times just to make sure I could work for myself. Needless to say, after that e-mail, I was scared out of my mind. Was every client going to let me go? (Spoiler: they didn’t.)
That experience brings me to my very first mistake, though, and my advice for newly self-employed people:
1. Don’t Get Too Comfortable Being Self Employed
I had almost four years of blogging experience when I became self employed. I had a large list of clients, a decent list of advertisers, and six months of solid income which showed me that I could support myself as long as I kept doing what I was doing. Yet, that made me comfortable, and it was a mistake.
In order to be successful as an entrepreneur, you have to keep creating, keep pushing, and keep reaching. People change. Life intervenes. Not all clients are going to stay with you. Not all readers are going to keep reading. You need to be constantly diversifying and inventing. This is especially true in online businesses when the rules change a lot.
2. Don’t Do Everything Yourself
I got about mid-way through the year before I was close to a complete nervous breakdown. Granted, I was taking care of my newborn twins while trying to run a business, and I was stretched very thin. Because I am the sole provider, I wanted all of my income to go towards my monthly expenses. I knew that hiring a virtual assistant would cut into that, and I was determined to do everything myself.
Eventually, I gave in and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. My virtual assistant, Kayla, helps with a million different aspects of my business. She makes sure nothing falls through the cracks. Every morning I forward her several e-mails that I got overnight to take care of, and it’s an instant weight off my shoulders. Yes, her services do cost me quite a bit every month, but without her I’d probably have at least $1,000 less in income every month. You can also apply this to other administrative tasks in order to free up more time. One of my favorite tools to do this with is Freshbooks. Freshbooks allows me to easily keep track of all my invoices, has awesome time tracking tools and many other tools that allow me to work on other things as opposed to focusing on accounting needs.
3. Don’t Go Too Long Without a Break
I work 7 days a week out of necessity, and that’s because I never have a full 8 hour workday because I am a stay at home mom. I do a few hours here and a few hours there, so Saturday and Sunday are my days to really get long stretches of work in while my husband watches the twins. All of this can really wear on you after a while.
So, I started taking ballet then hot yoga. I have so many good ideas for my business that pop into my head during yoga that I’ve actually considered bringing a notepad with me to put next to my mat. I’ve noticed that when I force my mind to be quiet, like in yoga or during a drive in the car, my mind is available to brainstorm new things.
I realize that I need more of a break than I allow myself. There is never enough time in the day. There is always something else on the list that could have been done. Despite all that, it’s important for me to recharge, and I’d recommend that to any newly self-employed person regardless of how passionate or determined you may be to make your business work.
Are you self-employed? What were some of the mistakes you made early on? What are some lessons you’ve learned about how to grow your business the hard way? What advice do you have for newly self-employed people or those thinking about taking the plunge? What do you want to know that I didn’t discuss?