Finding ideal employment isnít easy. While it's possible you'll find your dream job working for an established company, sometimes you have to create your own opportunities to be truly happy with your career. Self-employment can offer many benefits, such as flexible hours, the option to work from home, and the ability to work more or less often, depending on your availability and financial needs.
However, self-employment is not as simple as you might think. Here are some things to consider before making the leap to self-employment as well as strategies for success once you begin the process.
What Do You Have to Offer?
The first thing you need to do is decide what product or service youíll be able to profit from. Perhaps you make art like paintings, sculptures, or some other craft that people are willing to pay for. If youíre talented at some performance art like music, comedy, or dancing, you might be able to earn money from shows. If you have an easy time writing, you could look for paid freelance writing opportunities with companies, websites, blogs, newspapers, or magazines.
Before relying fully on your art for income, it may be a good idea to establish a solid fan base before giving up your day job. Even if you have a large group of followers, actually getting steady income may require more organization and a busier schedule than you expected. Itís best to do some research, create a plan, and talk with other artists who have managed to make a living from their creations.
You certainly donít have to be an artist to be self-employed. You simply need to identify a need within your community that you could help fulfill. For example, you might create a business helping senior citizens manage daily tasks and travel. If you have an interest and experience with a particular academic subject, you could become a tutor and help students of all ages. You could also offer lessons related to cooking, computer skills, and organization.
You could search local thrift stores for cheap items that you could sell for a profit online. Just be sure to consider shipping and handling costs in your budget. You might also offer pet-sitting services, grocery delivery, or cleaning services, and this list could go on forever. It may help to make a list of all your skills and interests and brainstorm what products or services you could offer based on that list.
Utilize the Internet
With such easy access to the internet, you can create a business with a digital storefront or base of operations with low overhead costs. You donít need complicated technical skills like coding in order to create a website. Plenty of companies will provide easy-to-use design templates, assist you with securing and managing your domain, add any additional features may need you need, and solve any problems that arise.
Even if youíre planning to rely mostly on phone communications, paper advertising, and a physical office or storefront, youíll still need to have an online presence for your business in order to be successful. Depending on the products or services you offer, it may be beneficial to create a blog related to your industry or participate in certain social media circles in order to reach your target audience.
Doing plenty of research and talking with others in your industry can help you to identify which areas of the internet will be most useful to you. However, a website ó or at least a Facebook page or Yelp listing ó is essential if only to provide contact information and a representation of what you do to a broader local or global audience.
Once youíve established at least the bare minimum for your online presence, be sure to keep your information accurate and up to date. Inaccurate listings are one of the easiest ways to drive away potential customers or clients. With so many options to choose from, people who are looking to pay for products or services donít need much of a reason to choose someone else. Putting some time into choosing an appealing web design and updating your photos with quality images is another way to stand out among similar businesses.
Pay Attention to Your Finances
This might seem like an obvious point, but if this is your first time working for yourself, there are many financial aspects of self-employment that may take you by surprise. For example, if your first few customers are people you know, you might not feel the need to create invoices or receipts to track your income and expenses. However, as you expand, creating invoices can help protect you from people who might decide not to pay and will help you prove your accurate income when it comes time to pay taxes.
Failing to track your cash flow is also an easy way to end up bankrupt. This is true even if it seems like your business is growing. You may be getting a lot of sales, but youíll likely have to invest in materials, travel costs, or other expenses to do your work. Itís important to track these expenses in order to make sure you arenít losing money overall. Once things get out of balance, it can be difficult to get back on track.
Especially as you begin your venture, it may be a good idea to consult a financial planner to help with tracking your income and expenses as well as filing your taxes. Doing so can help establish a solid financial foundation for your business and prevent major problems later on.
Keep in mind, there are some drawbacks to self-employment. For example, you wonít have access to corporate perks like health insurance, overtime and holiday pay, social interactions with coworkers, and automatically calculated employment taxes. However, by doing some research, you can find your own health insurance coverage as well as correctly pay your own taxes. You might also get a membership to a coworking office space to give yourself more of a social work environment.
If you do decide to work from home, be sure to take your business seriously. When youíre your own boss, no one is there to make sure you meet deadlines, provide customer satisfaction, or do quality work. For some, this is no problem, but if youíre overly relaxed, you may do a poor job, losing your current customers and damaging your reputation with prospective customers.
Aside from keeping yourself on track, youíll also need to be realistic about the amount of work you can handle. Itís great news if a lot of people are placing orders or using your services, but there is only so much time in the day. If you take on too much at once, you may not be able to complete all the work you promised or it may be lower quality.
When you can choose your workload and the amount of hours you work, youíre also at risk of burning out. Just like traditional employment, itís important to take days off, including sick days and vacation. You may not be able to travel the world on your new budget right away, but there are other options that cost little to nothing and can give you a much-needed break. Exercising outdoors has been proven to help prevent occupational burnout and live a healthier life.
While you donít have to worry about vacation pay for yourself, the time off will affect your overall productivity and should be considered in your budget.
By doing some research, speaking with others who have had success with self-employment, and exercising a healthy amount of caution, you can work for yourself. This can allow you to maintain a lot of freedom in your work life as well as your personal life. In time, you may even expand your business to include additional products or services and hire employees of your own.