You’re ready to make the transition from working for someone else to working for yourself. This is a big, bold move, and you deserve a hand for it. But the decision to pursue self-employment is the easy part.
Actually getting started is where the challenge lies. The work it takes to launch let alone manage a thriving business talks most people out of the idea. Taking the right steps to get started working for yourself makes it less likely this happens to you.
Here’s what you should do to embark on the road to successful self-employment.
Make Sure You’re Mentally and Emotionally Prepared
Are you mentally and emotionally ready for how different self-employment will be? Are you prepared to change your life to own a business? Answering these two questions honestly is critical.
If the answer is “no” or “I don’t know,” to either question, you need to take action so that next time your answer is a resounding “yes.” To help prepare your lifestyle, mind, and emotional state for business ownership, do the following:
- Prepare your finances
- Start living below your means if you aren’t already
- Be realistic about the ups and downs of self-employment
- Get into therapy or counseling to explore your mindset and emotional wellbeing
- Discuss business ownership with friends and family and how it will change your dynamic with them
- Talk to new and established business owners about their experience going from working for someone to working for themselves
You need your mind, emotions, and lifestyle to be ready for self-employment to be successful.
Consider Going Back to School
Learning from mistakes is an essential part of business ownership. But there’s nothing wrong with becoming familiar with common mistakes before you make them, learning how to avoid them, and running key components of a business successfully.
Going back to school is one of the best ways to do this. You can get a traditional education in business while learning skills and fleshing out passions that shape the direction of your self-employment journey.
Despite what many people think, going back to school as an adult is manageable. The first step is figuring out how you’ll pay for college. Determine what you can afford to pay out of pocket. Then, look into financial aid opportunities by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
As you map out the financial aspects of going back to school, choose the degree you want to pursue. Consider a business degree, one that’s related to the industry you want to be in, or one related to the business you want to build.
After this, find the right school. Think about online education as much as you do an in-person one. Once you’re set on a school, apply for it. And when you’re accepted prepare yourself for the first day. Stay motivated throughout your program and establish a routine so you don’t burn out.
Pick a Profitable Business Idea
Aside from learning as much as you can about owning a business, picking a profitable business idea is critical. Without a solid business concept, you risk this venture being a hobby rather than something that makes you real money.
If you’re unsure about what business to launch, start by exploring low-cost home business ideas. These are businesses that you can start in your home with little to no startup costs.
For example, you can start a bookkeeping business managing financial data for small companies. You can become a personal chef for private clients that cover the cost of food and transportation. You can become a graphic designer, growing your skills through free resources and obtaining clients through low-cost digital marketing tactics.
The list of profitable business ideas is endless. Dig into what you’re passions and talents are, and use them to define the direction of your business.
Plan Like Your Success Depends on It
One of the most common mistakes people make when starting a business is skipping the planning phase. They believe the products and/or services are so good that all they have to do is offer them and business will roll in. And that’s exactly what they do.
The result of jumping into a business without any planning is it closing quickly, if you’re able to get it off the ground at all.
Plan your business like your success depends on it because it does. SBA.gov offers excellent guidance on writing a thorough business plan. A business plan will help you map out the following details:
- What your company is
- What your competitive advantages are
- Who your target audience is
- Who your competitors are
- What market you’re pursuing
- Who’s involved in running your business
- What your products and services are
- How you’ll approach marketing and sales
- Funding needs and financial projections
Defining the above will ensure you’re going into self-employment with a clear direction.
Focus on Getting Your First Client
So many new business owners focus on getting a hundred clients when they should be focusing on getting their first one. Once you get the first client, getting to a hundred is just a matter of duplicating the process you used to get one.
Starting at zero is tough. But the following tips can help you gain your first client faster:
- Solicit referrals from your professional and personal networks
- Highlight what you have that other businesses in your industry don’t
- Publish high-quality content consistently across various marketing channels
- Define your target audience to tailor your marketing and sales strategies to these individuals
- Build an email list of individuals interested in you and your business and engage with them regularly
Get your first client out of the way, and building a broad customer base becomes much more painless.
The decision to work for yourself is a big one. There’s a lot of work involved if you want to be successful. But it’s achievable when you take the right steps from the beginning. The guidance above will help you do just that.
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