Imagine never having to leave home again. You work whenever you want and stop whenever you feel like it. It’s the perfect work schedule, right?
Not quite. As productive as we like to think we are, things don’t always get done our way on our time. That doesn’t mean that becoming a self manager isn’t impossible, it’s just that there are some traps you need to look out for.
Know thyself — find your strengths and weaknesses.
Sit down with yourself and have an interview. Be honest, too. Are you someone that you would trust to do things without supervision? Three of the biggest challenges in being your own boss are often distractions, loss of regimen and too many hats to wear.
1. Distractions = easy. The internet and in all it’s glory can often be a dark pit of non-productive time. Did someone say Pinterest? You know exactly what I’m talking about. A healthy dose of discipline can counteract this. Set times to take breaks, but stick to them.
2. Loss of regimen = hmm. This one is a little harder and deserves careful planning. We like to call it separation of Work and Home. We understand you are going to put in long hours, but save your sanity and follow some rules. After a certain point, put work down. Be involved with your family or friends. Not only will you give your mind a break, but you may find yourself actually more productive if you know you have to “go home” at 7 tonight. Separation of Work and Home also helps to avoid burnout, which will drain you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
3. The Hats. The best way to work within this is to use your strengths to turn your challenges into opportunities. Say someone wishing to start up a nonprofit has great hiring and management skills, but is unconfident when it comes to writing grants. He can either use his skills to hire a writer for him, or to leverage his network into finding help to do it himself. Whether or not you’re at a point to hire others, doesn’t matter. Be creative and find ways to reach out for help in other ways. Maybe you can do some work on trade or take an online course.
Planning is everything. Time management is key to profitability, but even more so when you’re the gears behind the machine of the company.
Keep a planner, a timer, a large clock, whatever it is that you need to stay ahead on tasks. Draft a schedule with projects you need to accomplish, and make sure you get them done when you say they need to be done. Plan one break, not ten, and spend your working hours doing just that — working. An excellent online resource for this is WorkBoard, useful for team or personal projects.
Market your company and yourself.
The only way you’ll grow as a company is to get more revenue, and you get those from more customers. You can’t live off projects from your family and friends forever — so make sure that you set up a website, social media networks, and advertising.
Reach out to local networking groups and create visibility for yourself. Make sure people can contact you directly. Google offers some of the best free tools around. Once you are finished with a job, service or product, ASK for a referral. This will help to deepen your network though clients you like working with. Make sure everyone knows who you are and what you do by leveraging your paper items. If you are sticking to just a business card, make sure the design of the card reflects the care you put into your own offers (really, this is true for any marketing collateral you have).
Don’t give up.
It is said “The Difference Between Failure And Success Is Perseverance” When you’re first starting up, it’s likely that you won’t have a set schedule at all. Some small business owners still have 50 to 60+ hour work-weeks. This company relies first and foremost on you, and if you can’t give it that extra time, it won’t last long.
You’ll make mistakes. Yes. Yes, you will. Don’t give up. Acknowledge the mistake, correct it if possible and move on. Learn from it.
Always be looking for ways to improve your company. If you see a process that needs to change, course correct quickly. This can allow you more things to do with your time, and the ability to take on more clients, resulting in a more profitable business for yourself.
Work with Arden
Arden is a web development company that is dedicated to helping startups succeed. We believe the first few years in business is critical to the success of the company and we provide marketing solutions in the form of online marketing, design services and turnkey solutions.