I am an entrepreneur, I can go it alone!

24 May 2017 | Focus | Thomas Peacock

Being your own boss sounds like an awesome adventure. You have the flexibility and creativity to do what you want. You can progress as far and as fast as your enthusiasm and hard work will take you.

At Alexander Partners we have spent years helping people build up the career capital necessary to parlay their education and work experience into a thriving small business. As the gig economy grows and freelancers begin to take up a larger percentage of the labour market, more and more people are beginning to avoid “wage slavery” in search of a better work/life balance. Telework, running online businesses and freelancing as an independent contractor are just some of the ways that people are reclaiming control of their work experience and creating economic opportunities.

But this path is not without its pitfalls. There are a great many things that most people who seek to be self-employed learn the hard way. Below are five lessons every entrepreneur should master before stepping out into the great unknown. While they may seem mundane, they can make all the difference when it comes to productivity and keeping your business above water.

  • You still have to get up and get dressed. The appeal of starting work at noon and wearing your pajamas all day is hard to deny. Undoubtedly EVERY person who has ever worked from home has done this on occasions. But, it cannot become a habit. It can’t even be a frequent occurrence. Morning routines, like showering and getting dressed, have been ingrained into your psyche. They tell your brain that the day has begun and it's time to get to work. If you skip them altogether it will be harder to focus on what needs to be done.
  • Go to work. This is another tip that seems self-explanatory, but it is crucial in the war against procrastination and economic ruin. Whether it’s a desk in your bedroom or a spot in a co-working facility, you need a suitably dedicated place to work. Make sure you are able to make and receive phone calls, have access to reliable wifi and any other amenities that you may need. Modern book shops and libraries are useful places to work if you have a lot of paperwork and reports to complete. If you prefer an office atmosphere, invest in membership at a co-work space. Not only will you have an office location but the people who share the space become your de facto co-workers.
  • Get organised from the start. We have all seen the comic strips about the brilliant but grossly disorganised professor. As silly as it may seem too many self-employed turn up at their accountant with bags full of jumbled receipts. This can be prevented, or at least minimised, by investing in one of the many accounting software packages on the market. Simply put, failing to organise is organising to fail.
  • Prioritise and delegate. If you’re striking out on your own, chances are your “company” is just you. Thinking about delegating sounds slightly schizophrenic, but it's an important aspect of productivity, even for the solopreneur. Deciding which tasks are the most important and need your immediate attention can be a little difficult. Most people don’t prioritise because they simply don’t know how. The solution is rather simple, typically 80% of your revenue is going to come from 20% of your activity. Find out what that 20% is and make them your priority.
  • Listen to more than the voices in your head. If you are a solopreneur the buck stops with you. You make all of the decisions. That sounds great...at first. What you will quickly find is that you are going to need to find people whose opinions and experiences you can lean on. This means networking. Sometimes all you need is somebody to act as a sounding board, somebody to bounce ideas off and get critical feedback. The same way great writers depend on editors to help hone their genius, great entrepreneurs need mentors and coaches to help hone their vision and develop much needed skills and competencies.
  • Yes, working for yourself is a great adventure, but you must never lose sight of the fact that it is still work. Whether you are part of a larger organisation or striking out on your own, you will still need to put in long hours, to learn on the go. Working for yourself offers great freedoms. But remember, with freedom comes responsibility. Failing to recognise is likely to send you running back to the relative comfort and security of corporate life.

Jameka Neil
Alexander Partners

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