Our generation may get sh*t on for being the non-romantic generation, but if there’s one thing we’re getting right it’s entrepreneurship. More than ever before, twenty-somethings are aspiring to be self-employed as they become less and less satisfied working for the man.
Are you over trying to fit in at the workplace, put up with office politics, smile politely at your bitch of a boss, abide by a strict 9-5 schedule and dress appropriately for work? Maybe you’re realizing that the traditional workplace just doesn’t work for you. After giving it a good college try, you now know you’d much rather be your own boss.
For example: I’m someone who loves leggings, uggs and wearing the same t-shirt I woke up in. I’m a night owl, so no – I’m not a morning person. I hate waking up at 7:30 AM, I hate being fake nice to annoying people, I won’t be nice to my boss if she’s a bitch to me, and I refuse to ‘check my emotions at the door’ so I apologize that I was in a bad mood at work that day. Deal with it.
Do I sound like someone who would do well working in an office? Of course not. Which is why I’m a successful entrepreneur now. I’m a freelance writer, I work my own hours and I’m my own boss. It’s 3pm, I’m currently writing this still wearing the shirt I woke up in, and I’ve already made more money today than I made in a full 8 hour day at my previous ‘real’ job.
The best part is that anyone can do this. You can be a freelance web designer, a freelance copywriter, a marketing consultant or a dating coach – the possibilities are endless for those who wish to be self-employed.
When you do finally become your own boss, it’s exciting – but it’s also a very tough transition. To make it a little easier on you, here are a few things you need to know about being your own boss:
There is no limit on your earning capacity, so you need to have hustle
When you’re self-employed or a freelancer, there’s no limit on how much you can earn. You can double what you were making at your 9-5 job, and with simple math you can figure out how many projects you need to complete per week to do that.
That’s why you need to have drive when you’re your own boss. You need to recognize your earning potential, and hustle when it comes to networking, reaching out to potential clients and following up with previous clients for a re-sale.
Neglecting your inbox is one of the number one ways you’ll lose revenue
If you’re self-employed, your livelihood is dependent on clients. These days, prospective clients will e-mail, not call. Without proper e-mail etiquette, you’ll lose a lot of clients, so you have to answer your e-mails in a timely manner. Gone are the days when we could get away with ignoring e-mails and later pretending ‘it was hidden in the spam folder’. Now, there are free apps like Sidekick that allow the sender to see if you’ve opened their e-mail or not, and you can imagine a client’s frustration to see that you keep reading their e-mails but not responding. Now imagine that same client busting you lying about how you never received it.
I used to ignore e-mails all the time. Not on purpose, but because I would read the e-mail at 4:00 AM (typical self-employed night owl hours) and I didn’t want to be the weirdo who e-mails clients back at odd hours – but then I’d forget to reply during normal business hours the following day. If this sounds like something you would do, download Boomerang because it lets you schedule e-mails for when you want them sent. Managing your inbox is less overwhelming than you think.
Unearned leisure time will cause more stress than it’s worth
When you’re your own boss, it’s tempting to take a few hours off for leisure activities whenever you feel like it and save the work for later on. That’s a slippery slope – one you’re definitely better off avoiding. Tim Urban wrote on Wait But Why that undeserved leisure time “isn’t actually fun because it’s completely unearned and the air is filled with guilt, anxiety, self-hatred, and dread.”
Tim Urban hit the nail on the head with that statement. You might think that one of the benefits of working your own hours is that you can have fun when you want to, and work when you want to. Have fun today, then work tonight.
I’ll tell you why that doesn’t work: A successful entrepreneur can’t be too stressed all the time, but you will be if you’re consistently indulging in ‘play-time’ that hasn’t been earned.
Although the 9-5 system doesn’t work for you, there are reasons that model exists. One being the concept that you get your work out of the way first, and enjoy a fun activity after work. Would ‘happy hour’ really be as happy if nobody had worked yet that day, but everyone instead still had a bunch of work they needed to get done later that night?
It’s great that you can work your own hours, and you certainly don’t need to abide by a 9-5 schedule, but put work ahead of leisure time. Otherwise you’re just a procrastinator, and procrastinators are always incredibly unhappy and stressed out.
There are tricks to staying self-motivated
If you’re going to be your own boss, you have to stay self-motivated in order to be productive and make a living. Nobody’s going to be riding your ass and nobody’s going to remind you to do your work. It’s all on you.
A great trick for staying self-motivated is to set realistic goals. If you’re a writer, your goal could be to write one article per day. You can decide later who you’re going to sell that article to, but by writing one article per day you’re producing something of value each day that you could potentially sell to a publication.
Another tip is to have a dedicated work space in your home. You know that room your TV is in? Yeah, don’t use that room to work in. Set up a work station and you’ll see how much more focused you are. It helps if you also have a routine, like a protein shake you always drink while you work and a notebook with a to-do list for the day already written out the night before. If you start to lose focus, pack up your laptop and head to a coffee shop. A change of surroundings can definitely re-energize your brain.
The 9-5 ritual didn’t work for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own rituals that you do abide by, that do work for you.
Self-education is a must
My final tip is all about self-education. No matter what, always keep learning and stay up-to-date with your industry. Attend meet-ups, go to seminars and workshops, and go for coffee with mentors who have found success in your field.
Dedicate the time to read e-books, articles and even take online courses to keep learning new information about the business you’re in. Once a year, treat yourself to a working vacation and attend a conference or event that pertains to what you do. Do this, and you’ll achieve more success than you ever imagined. Being your own boss means that the sky is the limit for you – so don’t limit yourself, stay motivated, put the work in and aim high.