Key tax dates and deadlines for 2018/19
It is an inevitable reality that, for anyone earning a livin...
By Jonathan London on 12th June 2015
Starting a business and becoming your own boss has always seemed a tempting prospect for many people, but in the last few years the idea of becoming self-employed has taken on a greater appeal than ever before.
With the global recession denting confidence in the traditional job-for-life model and the rise of the internet putting an unprecedented number of business tools in the hands of entrepreneurs, there has been a rapid awakening to the benefits self-employment can bring.
By leaving traditional employment behind, you’ll have a unique opportunity to take control of your own life and career, decide your own hours, plan a career path for yourself and earn your living doing something you’re truly passionate about.
However, working for yourself isn’t for everyone; to succeed as a contractor, you need to possess certain skills and characteristics that will allow you to make a success of yourself without needing to rely on the safety nets that more traditional forms of employment afford.
A passion for what you do
If you’re going to run your own business, it’s essential to pick a field and a business model that genuinely gives you passion and energy, or there’s no way you’ll have the motivation you’ll need to overcome the hurdles and setbacks you’re sure to encounter.
This could mean finding a way of making a living off a skill you enjoy utilising, or doing something you’ve proven to be good at during your past career. Alternatively, you may see an unsolved problem or a gap in the market that you think needs to be filled, and that you’re willing to put in the work and research needed to solve it. Whatever the case, picking the right business for you will play an instrumental role in deciding whether you succeed or fail.
A strong business plan
Of course, you can’t run a business off good intentions alone – you’ll need to have a solid plan for how you’re going to get your company off the ground. This will involve a careful consideration of potential funding options, collaborative partners, company structure and the best way of easing the transition from your old career to your new one.
You’ll also need to give proper consideration to your business proposition on a holistic basis, thinking about who you’re serving, how best to reach your target audience and what your key short and long-term objectives are going to be.
A good business brain
Once the business is up and running, you’ll need to be able to make decisions on the fly to determine the best course of action in a constantly evolving situation. This will involve ensuring your workload is sufficient yet manageable, meeting all of your commitments, addressing problems as they arise and keeping an eye out for growth opportunities.
Self-employed people should always be thinking of new funding concepts and areas where a reasonable risk could yield significant rewards. It might also be worth weighing up the pros and cons of setting up a limited company somewhere along the line.
An affinity for networking
When you’re self-employed, you need to be able to create opportunities for yourself, and networking plays a key role in this. That means understanding the value of branding, marketing and advertising, and having the confidence and gumption to spread the word about your services both locally and online via the internet and social media.
It’s also worth trying to forge links to others in your sector in order to lay the groundwork for potentially beneficial partnerships. This might mean attending industry events and putting yourself out there, or touching base with former colleagues and contacts via LinkedIn to ensure your name is known by those in positions of influence.
The ability to take ownership for your circumstances
Finally, it’s essential to remember the flipside of being your own boss – you won’t have anyone to answer to, but you also won’t have anyone to bail you out if things go wrong. Self-employed people can’t afford to point the finger at the economy, a tricky client or other matters of circumstance when setbacks occur, as nothing is going to change unless they fix it personally.
As such, running your own business requires you to proactively take ownership of your situation, accept realities for what they are and be prepared to roll up their sleeves and work at it when a problem needs to be solved. If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to turning your business venture into a sustainable success.
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