One of the most interesting things about transitioning from working in someone else’s office to quitting that day job and building your own business is the opportunity to learn…and learn many things.
The most important thing I’ve realized is that you’re never too old to learn. I certainly could not have predicted that at age 60, I would teach myself how to build websites. But once they launched – wow, what a great feeling of accomplishment!
But learning extends beyond improved skill sets. It touches every part of your life.
Learning is the key
Here are some of the things I’ve learned.
1. Be flexible.
You cannot learn if you are not willing to change. Flexibility means seeing what works and what doesn’t – and adapting. And understand that while your work schedule can be more flexible, you have to work when your clients work. Go ahead and take some “me time” for the hair stylist or that exercise class; just understand that you’ll have to make up that time eventually.
2. Planning is vital.
I’ve been a planner for decades, filling out my day timer every day, and prioritizing my tasks. This is even more essential when you don’t have other people (and their deadlines) looming over your shoulder.
Planning also allows you to build some “me time” into your schedule. And more importantly, when you’re organized, you find that crises are easier and less stressful to handle.
3. Make time to build your business.
When I was the president of the local chamber of commerce, I always told my members that they needed to focus on the aspects of their business that only they could handle.
And as a business consultant and coach, I encourage my clients to delegate wherever possible and focus on those things that will help them grow their business.
But that’s not so easy when you are a sole proprietor and have no staff.
Initially, I thought I could work on my own business at night or on weekends. And I did. But when your office is in your home, it’s way too easy to find yourself in front of a computer or on the phone during your “off” hours.
When are you most productive? For most people, it is the 2.5 hours that come 2 hours after they get out of bed. If at all possible, carve out some of that time for your business, and build it into your daily or weekly schedule.
4. Set boundaries.
Does your family recognize your need to spend time on your business? Do your friends believe that because you now work from home, you’re available for long lunches and numerous personal chats?
Let everyone know that you have a schedule, tell them what it is and ask them to respect it.
5. Manage client expectations.
If you’re selling a product, something you can hold in your hand, it’s pretty clear what the client gets for the fee. But if you sell services…eh, not so much.
Make sure you and your client clearly understand – and agree on – what you will be providing for your established fee, and stick to it. If the services requested extend beyond the agreed-upon payment, then you need to talk about changing the fee.
6. Surround yourself with advisers who want you to succeed.
A word of caution: They probably won’t be your loved ones.
While your friends and families love you, they have a huge emotional stake in the status quo. Any transition you have made, or are planning to make, will disrupt that. What they believe, feel and say will almost always be colored by their relationship with you.
Will they tell you the whole, unvarnished truth? And will their advice make you resentful or angry?
If you do have loved ones in your inner circle, consider bringing in others who have no personal stake in your success, and who are willing to honestly provide the advice and information you seek.
They could be lawyers, accountants, other business owners, managers, sales people –anyone whose opinion you respect, who will take your calls or answer your emails when you’re stumped or just need a sympathetic listener.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Just because you can do something on your own doesn’t preclude you from asking for help. There are plenty of people who are willing to give you a hand if you just ask.
And believe it or not, they may have thought of things you haven’t, or gone through the same situations. Reach out to them. You’ll be glad you did.
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Are you interested in making the transition from a salaried or hourly employee into being your own boss? Call me at 305/451-9295 or email email@example.com to set up a coaching call. The first one is on me!
Nancy Lucas says
All sage advice. Thank you Jackie!
Jackie Harder says
Thank you for your kind comments, Nancy. Much appreciated!