Employ Yourself… But Know The Pitfalls As Well As Benefits

employ yourselfTaking the leap to employ yourself can be a solution to an endless job search. While the economy is continuing to grow and employers are cautiously hiring more employees, the level of jobs still hasn’t reached pre-recession levels.

That means a lot of people who used to have jobs are still out of work… Either they are still looking, or have given up altogether.

Statistics show that many great companies were born in the ashes of languishing economic times, and many people get tired of waiting to be hired… so they start their own company or launch a consulting agency.

Running your own business has many rewards. There’s nothing better than working for yourself… as a small business owner, I have come to love my work in a way I could have never imagined.

  • The money you make is your own when you employ yourself.
  • If you employ yourself, you make your own hours.
  • Commute times are minimal, as many businesses start out based in the home.
  • You get to call the shots on where to go and what to do, and how to get there.
  • Opportunities abound everywhere – you just need to know where to look.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret. There are downsides too when you decide to employ yourself.

Here are some pitfalls you should be aware of before jumping into the entrepreneurial pool feet-first:

1)      It’s lonely. There’s a certain amount of culture shock that happens when you move from a busy office and employ yourself. Suddenly, you are surrounded by “me, myself, and I.”  Over time, you’ll grow accustomed to the solitude, but initially, it’s definitely something to get used to.

2)      If you are going to do your business right, you’ll be working harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Clocking in for someone else might seem mind-numbing, and you may resent additional “need you to work late” requests, but when you are a business owner, the clock never turns off.  You’ll be up early and going to bed late. Sometimes, in the night, you’ll get ideas and need to write them down. Expect insomnia as you try to puzzle your way through challenges.

3)      Best. Advice. Ever.  “If you can avoid it, don’t add overhead costs like leasing office space.”  Sure, having your company sign hanging over a door and having customers walk in sounds like a dream come true, but that comes at a cost. Most new companies are service-based, so ask yourself: do I really need to have a separate space? The stigma of “home-based businesses” is starting to wear off, but do be aware if you need to have client face-time, you need to have a strategy of where that is going to take place. (Hint: many people who are self-employed use coffee shops, or rent executive office suites by the hour)

4)      Create a plan. And stick to it. Too many businesses launch without a clear sense of direction or purpose. Do research on how to develop a mission statement, business plan, marketing plan, and a plan of work, and put serious thought into your company infrastructure in terms of workflows, processes, and efficiencies. This will be the backbone that will support your entire operation.

5)      Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you were the best chef in the world but didn’t have a lick of business sense, how long do you think your restaurant might stay open? Most people can’t do it all, so don’t be afraid to ask for help or hire in the people who can do the stuff you don’t like doing or don’t know how to do. Take the time to find the right talent/provider. In the long run, you’ll be further ahead. If you going to employ yourself, you should be aware that it’s not a “failure” to realize you aren’t good at one particular area of running a business!

6)      Taking on too much. It’s a very instinctive thing to scramble and say “yes” to everything, but know your limits. If you are too indiscriminate with the volume of projects you take on and don’t manage your time effectively, you’ll have zero results. It’s good to be open to new opportunities, but never lose sight on what you can actually deliver.

7)      Being inflexible. What starts out as your business model can and WILL evolve. Part of it is experience, but changing market needs and business opportunities can provide a wake-up call that the original purpose might not be the best course to pursue.  Be willing to adapt and have fun… after all, isn’t owning your business all about doing what you love?

Becoming unemployed has opened the door to many people for launching their own businesses, and by being aware of the benefits as well as pitfalls, they can navigate through the first 5 years which are considered to be critical as to the company’s longevity and viability in the marketplace.