Guest Post by Kate Swoboda, aka Kate Courageous (learn more about Kate at the end of this post)
People who are considering running their own business often consider doing so from the perspective of leaving a more standard, traditional job–in an office, with a boss, a human resources department, and a steady paycheck. Sometimes that means a hard reckoning–because being an entrepreneur is quite the lifestyle change. Here are some things to consider before making the leap.
#1 Set deadlines for yourself–procrastinators, beware. If you’re someone who regularly and routinely procrastinates in your day-to-day life, running your own show might not be for you–at least, not without some serious side support, such as having an assistant. Even for those who are great with deadlines, this will be an adjustment.
For example, I’m your typical, Type-A personality who’s pretty organized, and the shift from someone else seeing the big picture and giving me deadlines to adhere to, versus ME seeing the big picture, determining the action steps, and setting deadlines for those steps, was still a big change. Even now, it’s not uncommon for me to get to the middle of the week and realize that–oh, yeah!–I forgot to set up my weekly newsletter.
I’d highly recommend padding your deadlines wherever you go–and I do mean padding, and padding, and padding. Give yourself an extra couple of days to do anything.
Batch processing in advance will save you during those weeks when you’re busier than you ever imagined–don’t just write one blog post, write several. Don’t just set up one social media update; use tools such as HootSuite to set up several.
#2 Monitor the critical voices. One of the things that can actually be “nice” about working for someone else is that we often know exactly what is expected of us and how to meet that. It’s laid out in a handy little job description. Then we have performance reviews, and–let’s face it–at most jobs, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to make sure that your boss is happy enough to give you a passing review.
When you start working for yourself, you are the only one reviewing you. You’re reviewing you when you put out a blog post, announce a workshop and see whether or not people sign up, or use social media.
This is immensely powerful–you, deciding whether or not you are working up to your own personal standards–and it can be crippling for people who have issues with perfectionism.
The inner critic can pipe up with how much better someone else’s work is, how much more money someone else is making, and on and on. In the job that you only cared about in a lukewarm way, the inner critic voices didn’t matter as much–who cared if someone else was better at filing paperwork at that corporate job? When it’s your heart and soul out there, you’re more invested, and sometimes that means an inner critic that’s really active.
Take a stand for yourself from the get-go, not to feed those inner critic voices. When you notice them, stop–breathe–do something else–and require respectful communication.
#3 Pay yourself on a schedule. As much as we might like to break the shackles of traditional employment, money becomes trickier to manage. I’ve found that the only money strategy that works for me is to only pull money from my account every 2 weeks, just the way I was paid with a traditional bi-weekly paycheck.
This wasn’t how I handled things the first few years of running a business. Back then, I was so excited to see the money come in that, in my excitement, I wanted to spend it! Not to mention–it was really easy to use buying something as a “treat” for doing the hard work of being an entrepreneur.
There are more financial surprises that crop up when you work for yourself. Taxes, for instance–those always cost more than you think they will, once you’re self-employed. I’ve found it important to monitor my money the same way as an entrepreneur as I would in any other salaried capacity–with a budget, money set aside for taxes and savings, and limiting use of the credit card.
#4 You might not have more time for yoga (or anything else!). In my consulting work with life coaches, over and over I hear them express a kind of guilt for not “doing more yoga.” Together, a coach and I chuckled as I shared my theory that perhaps every entrepreneur is feeling guilty for not doing more yoga!
It’s a common misconception that by working for yourself, you’ll have a lot more time for recreational activities.
Before I started working for myself, my life was amply filled with yoga, running, lots of reading and writing of fiction, studying Italian, spending time with my partner and friends, and the like. Since working for myself, I’ve needed to consciously scale back to the things that were the highest priority.
It’s a major lifestyle adjustment to realize that there isn’t enough time in the day to write blog posts, set up newsletters, interact with social media, respond to emails, work with clients, plan the next retreat/workshop/e-book, conduct interviews or be interviewed by someone else…AND do all of the things that I used to do.
Running a business requires several years of upfront investment. People are not kidding about that. After six years of working for myself, with three of those years passive and three of those years intensively focused, I arrived at a point where I didn’t need to work quite so hard, just in the past year. Even then, it’s still a lot of work. (P.S. Anyone who tries to sell you on this being “quick” or “easy” is probably scamming you).
Is it fun? Is it worth it? Absolutely.
With that said, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re willing to completely skew your life for a few years in order to build your business–so that you get the return that comes after that initial investment.
And once you do start working for yourself? Make sure that you plan in ways to have “me” time–otherwise, the tasks at hand in your day can easily overwhelm you.
#5 Freedom tastes good. Working for yourself is the ultimate declaration of living on your own terms, in every area of your life. The first day that you wake up feeling tired or sick and choose to stay in bed all day instead of forcing yourself to work will be a beautiful one. The first time that you decide to put work off so that you can enjoy beautiful weather or time with your kids? Priceless.
Freedom–that’s what so many of us are after with working for ourselves. The big questions to consider have to do with whether or not working for yourself really will deliver the kind of freedom that you desire. It’s a big lifestyle change, one in which freedom in some areas is swapped out to some degree with restriction in others.
The most powerful part of all of this is that you will be the one uniquely deciding where there are (and aren’t) restrictions, and that’s what true freedom looks like.
Guest Author: Kate Swoboda is a Life Coach, speaker and writer who helps clients to lead unconventional and revolutionary lives through practicing courage. She’s the author of The Courageous Living Guide, and creator of the Courageous Play and Create Stillness retreats–as well as The Coaching Blueprint, a resource just for Life Coaches. When she’s not writing, coaching, or leading retreats in Italy and San Francisco, she can be found sipping chai in libraries, buffing up on her Italian, training for her next road race, or getting all bendy-stretchy on the yoga mat. You can find Kate at www.yourcourageouslife.com