Many people dream of being their own boss with the freedom to work for themselves on their own terms and only take on clients and projects that they love. Though being your own boss is an attractive prospect, many individuals dreaming of professional independence overlook this important detail: There is a huge difference between building a business and being self-employed.
Though both business ownership and self-employment will technically make you your own boss, there are key differences between these two positions that will impact how successful and happy you become.
Business owners scale their income, self-employed people trade dollars for hours. While business owners leverage the skills and talents of others, self-employed people must rely solely on their own skills. If this makes you feel discouraged, don’t be. Every business owner started out self-employed and worked to build themselves and their business.
If you are still in the beginning phases of becoming your own boss, these tips should help you along the way. Self-employment should be more than just another job, and now is the perfect time to get started working to build a sustainable business.
Gather a Team
First and foremost, understand that building a sustainable business cannot be done by a single person. Successful business owners gather teams of professionals and leverage their talent and time in order to build their business. Though you might be tempted to remain a team of one for the first few years of your business, this will only lead to burnout and stress, ultimately discouraging you from your goals.
Rather than facing challenges by overworking yourself, find at least one team member to help you accomplish your goals. Separate your tasks into those that you love to do or are especially suited for and those you dislike or aren’t good at. Once you have identified which tasks are your weakest, you will be able to determine what kind of person will be the best fit as the first addition to your team.
If you can’t bring someone on full-time or even part-time, consider outsourcing your weakest tasks at least once or twice a month. A few hours of help will relieve some of your stress, and can help to set you back on track should you fall behind. Maybe you hate sending emails to potential leads, or struggle to come up with interesting social media posts; these are great tasks for you to delegate to someone else to take a little worry and stress off of your plate.
Set Work-Life Boundaries
Building a business can be an all-consuming task, something that individuals working from home should be aware and cautious of. The trouble with working at home is that you live, eat, and relax where you work, and that means that there’s no clear line in the sand between your workday and your home life.
Since there’s always work to do when you are a busy entrepreneur, it is easy to feel like you need to fill every available moment with work. If you don’t set clear work-life boundaries, you could find yourself struggling in other parts of your life, causing rifts in friendships, family life, etc.
Try some of these methods to help you balance your work and home life, even if your office is at home:
- Setting—and maintaining—clear work hours. Even though there is no one to answer to and no system to clock-in to, setting defined hours can help you separate work life and home life. Start at 8 am every day, and shut down that computer promptly at 5 pm.
- Having an office with a door you can close when you are done with your day is another great way to literally separate your work and home life. If you can, create a set office space for yourself, then close it off at the end of the day and leave your work-life behind.
- Scheduling time for family and other activities will help you ensure you don’t leave anyone feeling neglected. By doing this, you create your own structure and schedule, which is an important part of being your own boss.
Don’t Forget to Give Yourself a Break
Don’t create a business that requires you to be “in the office” every day. At the start, you may need to be available more, but you should definitely be planning for the day when you can be “off the grid” for extended periods of time. If your business requires you to be on-site and working at all hours, this is a good sign you have not moved beyond ‘job’ to the stage of ‘business owner’ and are still trading time for money.
Feeling anxious about leaving your business unattended? Try these techniques to make you feel more confident letting your business run without you:
- Hire trusted contractors who can handle things when you’re not available. Over time, you will build relationships with these contractors, affording you more relief from the stress of managing your entire workload.
- Leverage automation tools such as autoresponders and auto webinar systems to communicate with customers, answer questions while you are away, and resolve customer complaints.
- Create repeatable systems so you’re not always re-inventing the wheel. Routine is the name of the game when it comes to running a successful business.
While it might be a few years before you can hit the road with no internet access for weeks at a time, you should be able to reduce your own workload without compromising the quality of how your business operates. If you do it right, you could have a fully functioning business that runs with only a daily check-in on your end.
Do you think this sounds impossible? It’s not. With some forethought and planning, you can organize a team—and the systems they need—to successfully run your business without becoming overwhelmed and overworked.