Part 4 of a series on how to make the leap to self-employment
The single most important characteristic that will guide your success as a worker who writes your own paycheck is your attitude. Because quitting your job and becoming successfully self-employed requires a major shift in thinking. As you develop an entrepreneurial attitude, you’ll be surprised at what you can make happen.
When you’re setting out on your own, you may not feel at first as if you have what it takes. But, guess what? As you make a mental shift to working for yourself, you will find abilities you didn’t know you had.
That is a real shift in thinking for anyone who has been at the mercy of someone else for a salary. But it’s a powerful shift. Your entire identity and self esteem is often wrapped up in what you do at work. You’re an accountant, or a vice president, or a machinist, or a sales rep. When the employment rug is pulled out from under you, your first challenge will be to convince yourself that you can create for yourself whatever you were receiving from your work: meaning, status, respect, power and other rewards.
That will require a healthy dose of self-confidence and self-knowledge. It means you must cultivate an attitude that says you appreciate who you are as a person, not as a job title or a role. You will begin to believe in yourself and your talents.
The shift is so powerful that you will develop the confidence and assurance to trust that life will work and respond to you. One of the greatest benefits of being self-employed is that you will have the opportunity to develop this inner source of strength. To begin adopting a powerful attitude, think about the type of person you want to be and then start acting as if you already are manifesting those characteristics to help you become that kind of person.
As your own boss, you will have to make tough decisions. It will help to have an attitude that says you are willing to stretch, to build on what you already know how to do. Your attitude is every bit as important as hard work. Change your thinking and challenge your self-imposed limitations. If you are determined to succeed, you will be able to acquire the information and skills you will need in order to succeed.
You Need Desire, too
Desire might be the hardest characteristic to develop if it doesn’t already exist. But it will be a powerful motivator in your arsenal of self-employment weapons.
Charlotte was working as a computer programmer in 1998 when her boss fired her for taking too much time off to care for her sick child. She started a web site to sell Baby Cakes, gift packages made out of diapers, made to look like layered cakes that you eat, with baby gifts tucked inside.
She started the web site in August and did not get a single order until November, then one more in December. “Desire” kept her going. She wanted very badly to have the flexibility to take care of her children. In February 1999, she listed her business in Yahoo and the rest is history.
You may be motivated by family needs as well. Or power, or community service – or just plain change. But, be careful – if you decide to try self-employment “just for kicks,” or until something better comes along, you probably will not have enough gas to fuel your endeavor when the going gets rough.
And the going probably will get rough. In most cases, you will have to make some sacrifices – put a planned vacation on hold for another year, downsize your wardrobe, adjust your lifestyle in other ways. You will most likely make less money when you begin working for yourself. You may work longer hours.
Understand this about working for yourself: It’s not a financial panacea. It’s only another option. It is an alternative to life without a boss. And for some, it’s totally unrealistic. But many of those who crash and burn on the way to self-employment failed for one reason: their desire to succeed just wasn’t strong enough.
Part 5, “It Takes Courage to be Self-Employed,” continues the series on making the leap to self-employment.