So, you’ve been working your little heart out for a while now, putting all your time and effort into building up your side project into something substantial. You’ve juggled jobs, bosses, weekends working when your friends are all brunching. Great work! I know firsthand how much the slog takes it out of you, and how much it’s worth it! Now it’s finally time to take the leap to working on it full time, but let’s be honest, you’d be silly to just jump in without thinking the process through, and creating a mind map for how you’re going to create that thriving business. From experience, I can say that there is no such thing as a bump free road to working for yourself, but over time I feel like I’ve experienced enough ups and downs to be able to give you the heads up on what to expect, and how to make the most of that terrifying, exhilarating transition. Here’s to signing your own pay checks every month!
This one’s obvious, and if you’re thinking about transitioning to being your own boss chances are you already know what you want to do and have probably started. In the event you’re at the early stages, perhaps reading this post may help. If you feel you’re procrastinating, trying to get everything perfect before starting, remember there’s no such thing as perfect, only a road to something good that you’re better to get on sooner rather than later. I know I’ve said this before, but if you start now and take even just small steps (perhaps while juggling a day job), chances are in two years you’ll have something to be proud of.
You’ll remember from my post about balancing your day job and your side project that I believe being smart about money is key. Being your own boss is great, but not at the cost of having somewhere to live and food to eat. Girls gotta eat, remember? So it’s important to create a budget or a cashflow for your first few months of your business, and put some money away in order to enable you to leave your job without stressing yourself out. A good starting figure for savings is an equivalent of three months salary, which enables you to find your feet. As I mentioned in my last post, I was lucky to have a publishing contract which paid me an advance, which was roughly equal to 6 months wage (remember I had to write the book too!). Then, you also need to think about business costs – taxes, health insurance, pension plans and anything else you need to set aside each time you get paid. That’s business baby!
Price Yourself Correctly
You’ll need to think about pricing your services properly (I could probably write a whole post just on this, stay tuned) and and negotiating what you are worth (another topic worth it’s own post). The main points here are that a) you know what the market rate for what you do is and b) you understand that your pricing should reflect not just your actual time but the fact that when you are freelance there are times when you have work and times when you don’t. Your pricing needs to take this into account.
Keep Your Start Up Costs Down
We’re all confronted by imagery of people’s successful businesses via social media and the trappings that come with that like staff, offices, and 875903854 inch iMac screens. What you don’t see is just how long someone slaved at their dining table to make all this happen, so it’s important not to fall prey to what you think your business should look like, particularly in the early stages when you are testing the market and your abilities. Yes you want to reflect a successful and positive business image (people won’t hand over their money unless you do), but don’t spend all your money on proving to the world that you’re doing well in the early stages, that will come with time.
Create a schedule
Carrie Bradshaw may have made us think that working for yourself is all lunches with the gals and wandering Manhattan, but sadly this isn’t the case. The best thing to do is treat your new job as you would any other, and create a schedule and routine that you can stick to. I work normal-ish working hours most of the time (9am – 7pm with a lunch break), but you just need to choose what works for you, making sure you slot in exercise and other activities that will keep you healthy. This will help you stay on task and be less distracted, and also help you put down your work at the end of the day.
Work smart, and hard (but not so hard you fall down dead)
In case you might think that being your own boss might be less work than being an employee, it’s not. More enjoyable? Yes. Jump out of bed in the morning? Hell yes. But less work…. no. That’s because a) you have to do everything yourself initially, from the proposals to the admin to the mail and b) you’re going to care so much more about your own business that you will naturally work harder. If you struggle with the expectations of your boss now, wait til she’s you! It’s important to embrace this element of working hard, but also be aware of giving yourself time out and time to relax. Creativity needs time away from work to thrive/grow.
Learn from and with Others
No man is an island. And that should be your motto when you’re transitioning to being your own boss. There is so much to learn from other people that, although sometimes it’s easy to feel protectionist about your new calling, the best thing to do it to reach out to others and learn from them. Do work experience, help people out now and again, put yourself out there and you’ll find success so much quicker.
I’d love to hear if you have any questions or experience of transitioning to being your own boss! Xxx
With that in mind, I also wanted to share with you guys that I am going to be guest on a workshop panel in collaboration with Grazia Magazine and Cointreau, talking about Creativity and Business, how it came together for me and the things that I have learnt along the way. I would absolutely love to see you there!
Grazia Australia & Cointreau
Saturday 29th, Sydney
10.30am – 12.30pm