Being good at what you do is a great foundation for going it alone. But it’s only the start. There’s a whole load of other skills and personal attributes you’ll need to have – or develop – to make it as a freelancer, contractor or small business owner.
From our experience in working with these types of people, we reckon you’ll succeed as your own boss if you see these 7 key qualities in yourself.
You believe in yourself
It’s one thing to extol the virtues of a company’s products or services. For many people, it’s quite another to sell themselves. There’s no room for such bashfulness in the world of self-employment as, in the early stages at least, no one else is going to blow your trumpet for you. You’ll need the confidence to sell yourself – and the self-awareness to know when you’re overdoing it.
You’re going self-employed because you love what you do. However, you’ll also be taking on the day-to-day chores of running a business. This means you’ll probably be your own business development manager, credit controller, IT support desk, bookkeeper, and admin person. You can outsource many of these functions, but the buck will always stop with you.
You know when to stop
Sometimes, walking away from a seemingly endless task and coming back later, fully refreshed, is more productive than ploughing on relentlessly. Because all cases are different, there’s no formula that fits every situation. That’s why having the intuition to know whether you should push on – or take a break and recharge – is a vital skill when you work for yourself.
You’ve mastered time management
Time is money – especially if you charge by the hour or day. Pretty soon, you’ll realise the financial cost of non-billable tasks like meetings, phone calls, admin, travel etc. On the other hand, you’ll be surprised at how profitable it is to get organised and minimise the impact of these factors on your billable time.
Be ready to play different roles for different clients. For some, you may be the answer to all their needs in your realm of expertise. Others may have most needs covered and use you as their specialist in a niche area. Some will embrace you as part of their team, while others will see you as their secret weapon. Fulfilling the role your client sees you in will help make you indispensable.
You understand people
Great communication, selling, negotiating and dealing with awkward types are all based on a good understanding of people. Take time to understand what your client’s objectives are and, perhaps more importantly, what pressures they may be under in their own organisation. Sometimes, the reassurances and support you provide to a client will be as valuable to your relationship as the work you do.
Working for yourself calls for a level of self-discipline. For many people, this no problem. For others, the temptation to take off to the gym, play with the cats or raid the fridge – simply because they can – is too much. If this sounds like you, you may need to develop strategies to separate work time and play time.