Written by Karen D. Swim
Many of you left behind the shackles of employment to brave self employment in 2009. You are basking in the glow of your freedom as you realize that no one is the boss of you. Put down your bowl of Froot Loops® and step away from Oprah because I am going to save you money and time by helping you avoid the mistakes common to new business owners.
- You are an entry level employee required to work your way up the ladder to earn the promotion. Welcome to self employment . You have been promoted from chief bottle washer to chief of everything. Start acting like it.
- Fees are based on time in business rather than value offered. Yes, you are a new business owner who will have to build a portfolio of successes but presumably you can actually do the job. Your past experience has value even if you obtained it as an employee. There is a prevailing myth that new business owners must charge below market value in order to establish their worth. This is utter hogwash. I am quite frankly puzzled by the thought process but let me clear it up for you, your clients are paying you for what you can do for them. It’s up to you to price it accordingly.
- People will do exactly what they say. Contracts exist for a reason. You do not have to overwhelm your clients with lengthy agreements but you should document the scope of work and terms and gain agreement in writing before you begin a job. Whether you sell a product or service, the terms and expectations should be articulated in writing.
- Business will come to you. You meet someone in line at the grocery store and get into a conversation that results in them saying they need your services. You give them your card and they promise to call after the new year. Bless your heart, you believe them. You have to develop leads, and follow up with them. I’m not proposing that you stalk them but follow-up is critical. People get busy and priorities shift. If you don’t follow up, when the problem crosses their radar screen again, they are going to call the person that comes to mind and it may not be you.
- You cannot afford to hire help. Hire early and hire often and you will earn more and avoid the trap of equating being busy with success. Build the cost of a Virtual Assistant (VA) into your jobs. Many VA firms have pay as you go structures so that you are not locked into a long term contract. You will make more per hour when you share the workload.
- You have to know everything. As an employee when you did not know something, you did not declare yourself unfit for your job. You gained the knowledge you needed to do the work. Knowledge is easy to obtain. Do not allow it to hold you back from pursuing a bigger project, or trying a new challenge.
- You have to know everything today. Knowledge is so easy to obtain that you are now attending three teleseminars per week, subscribed to 100 must have newsletters and have more ebooks than files on your computer. Limit the information to what you need to know and will apply now.
Being in business is hard work but so rewarding. However, you don’t have to suffer the newbie blues by making blunders that can be avoided. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck. There is always someone who either knows the answer or can point you to someone who does.
Please feel free to add to the list with your tips, suggestions or questions in the comments.
StartUp Nation – Discussion forums, community support, resources and vendors
Freelance Folder – Blog, forum and resources for freelancers or solo professionals
Success In Sweatpants – Sweatpants Manifesto, Coaching programs and advice on building a 6-figure freelancing business
IAC Professionals – VA firm that offers a wide range of services including admin, accounting and marketing
Business Tools and Resources – Communication, bookkeeping and other tools useful for any business owner