Part 3 of a series on making the leap to self-employment.
If you quit your job – or lose a job – you will be free! Free from generating work based on the whims of a supervisor. Free from a schedule that’s imposed by someone else. Free from the tyranny of endless meetings. Free to do the kind of work you really want to do.
But wait! You also have freed yourself from a paycheck. Unless you have decided to find a way to remain jobless, you must find a way to earn an income on your own.
If you are opting for the self-employment route, you are probably taking the step because you want the freedom of being your own boss, living life on your own terms. That doesn’t necessarily mean you want to or are prepared to run a business; in fact; you may not really be interested in running a business. You may only want to work part-time to earn enough to stay home and care for your children. For someone like this, being in business is a means to an end, not the end itself.
If you’ve worked for someone else for a long time, your business sense may be stunted – or slotted into a different framework. You’ve been learning how to be employed – to do what you’re told, to follow rules, to come to work on time, and be a “team player.”
Unfortunately, the characteristics that made you a good employee may be the opposite of what will make you successfully self-employed. To be successful as your own boss, you will need to develop some business attributes – like selling your product or service, managing cash flow, projecting sales and expenses, creating a business plan, marketing.
You’ll need to make friends with the hassle factor involved in setting up the nuts and bolts of a physical business, in deciding what legal form it will take. Because no matter what kind of work you create, you will have to put some sort of structure in place.
When you begin to face all these details, you may ask yourself, “Am I entrepreneurial material? Do I have what it takes to create work that will generate enough income to make ends meet?”
To help you answer that, let’s picture the situation. Imagine for a minute that your current job is an object you can stand on, something that supports you, something real you can touch. Now imagine you quit your job, or are laid off from your job. The object that has been supporting you explodes out from under you into a million pieces.
To make it on your own, you’ll need to put the pieces back together in an entirely new shape – a shape you will create yourself. You will need to rebuild that object into a sturdy foundation that will support you and take you where you want to go. Can you do it?
That will depend upon the tools and skills you bring to the effort. Let’s face it, not everyone who dreams the dream of self-employment will make it. Some will simply not have the right stuff.
At one end of the job-quitting spectrum are people who quit their jobs with the equivalent of an architectural degree to help them build their new structure – former entrepreneurial experience, considerable financial resources, a great business idea or a family business to step into. Then there are those who begin with little more than a dream. You are probably somewhere in between the two extremes.
The good news is that intangibles – even more than capital and other obvious means of support – will determine how well you will do as the architect of your own destiny. And, take heart, if you don’t have all these intangibles – or think you don’t – you can develop them to one degree or another.
Part 4, “It Takes ‘Attitude’ to be Self-Employed,” continues the series on taking the leap to self-employment