How To Manage Yourself

As an employee, you report to someone. Doesn’t matter what your title is, or where you are in the corporate hierarchy, everyone reports to someone. Even the CEO. Up through the food chain, each link is accountable for their actions and must account for them to the links above.

Accountability

When you work for yourself, who are you accountable to? Your customers? Not really. At least, not in the same way. Self-employed people are accountable to themselves.

If you’re self-employed like me, you develop your own business strategies, and then are solely responsible to execute them. You alone determine your business goals, sales targets, marketing plans, and deadlines for achieving results.

So how do you hold yourself accountable? How do you motivate yourself to get those results?

Motivation

The biggest motivator, of course, is failure. Or, failure avoidance. It’s an even bigger motivator than the concept of “success”. Success can be such a broad concept, so intangible in tactical application, that it begins to lose meaning. It becomes the elusive pot of gold at the end of a rainbow you’re always chasing.

But avoiding failure? That’s real. That’s tangible. Not being able to pay your bills every month is a failure. Generating income avoids that failure. Being able to pay your bills every month is very motivating! It’s also very urgent. It’s top of mind. Most people aren’t able to ignore finanical obligations and not think about them for months on end. You’re less likely to procrastinate when you know that doing so will have very tangible, and potentially catastrophic, results.

Support

The fact that not generating an income results in a failure to pay your bills may be motivating, but it doesn’t automatically empower you with the ability to create money from thin air. It does put a lot of pressure on you, and potentially create a never-ending stressful lifestyle. If you allow it to.

This is where you need to provide yourself with the support you need to get the job done. Again, another responsibility for you, the solopreneur, because you’re doing this on your own. If you’re wondering why at the moment, take a few minutes to remind yourself why it’s better to be self-employed.

Continue reading for some quick tips on how to provide yourself with the necessary support to stay motivated, accountable, and delivering results.

Top 5 Tips To Managing Yourself

1. Once a month, set aside 3 hours to review your business plan (yes, you should have one!). Confirm or modify your plan as needed.

2. Every three weeks, review your CRM and note which key contacts you haven’t connected with recently. Identify 4-5 contacts and reach out to them to re-connect. Businesses are fuelled by relationships. And if you’re only reaching out to people when you need to make a sale, you’ll find that people will soon stop taking your calls. Reach out to your contacts to keep in touch and see what they need. Helping others also helps yourself, in the long run. And yes, you should be using a CRM system. There are many free or cheap options available for small business.

3. Every two weeks, set aside 1 hour to update and reconcile your budget vs your actuals, both your personal budget and your business. Yes, you should have your budget written down and be tracking what you make and what you spend. Never go more than 2 weeks without reconciling.

4. Every week, set aside 2 hours to review how many of your objectives and obligations you successfully met; how many did you fail to meet; and what are the outcomes from failing to meet those objectives. Did it matter? What did it cost you?

5. Every day, take 15 minutes to setup the top 3 goals that you need to accomplish. Use whatever task or ‘to do’ system or app that works best for you. Make your 3 goals bite-sized; they may be small individual accomplishments, or they may be steps to achieving a larger objective. For example, if your goal is to write a book in 90 days, then a daily goal may be “write for one hour”, or “write 1000 words”.

Conclusion

Be focused on what you’re trying to achieve, both long-term and short-term. Be ultra-aware of your financial position, always. Stay connected to past customers and potential customers. Focus on delivering results every day, both for your customers and for your own business goals. Don’t just plan, analyze. Review actual outcomes, continually, to measure and monitor your likelihood of meeting future goals.

Manage yourself proactively. You aren’t just central to the success of your business, you ARE its success.

 

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Top 5 Reasons Why It’s Better To Be Self-Employed

Working for yourself isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. It requires effort, committment, flexibility, and tenacity. But the pay-offs just can’t be denied. Why go through all of the effort? I compiled this list as a constant reminder for myself, and perhaps some insight for those on the fence about taking the next step.

Why Being Self-Employed is Better Than Being an Employee

1. More Money

Your earnings are limited only by how hard you work. Yes, this means that you may work harder when you are self-employed, but you’ll make significantly more money than a salaried employee. And potentially have significantly less free time. On the other hand, you may also choose to work less and enjoy a better work-life balance. You set your price, and you set your work hours.  Your choice.

You also typically realize more money from a similar amount of income. It varies by location, so you need to investigate the laws that apply in your area, but there can often be beneficial tax and expense implications from operating as a business.

Fewer Out of Pocket Expenses

In addition to the bigger profitable picture, small savings can also add up. This can vary a bit depending on your work, but many solorpreneurs and freelancers have fewer expenses than employees, especially if they work from home or another location of their choosing. Not having a lengthy commute means less gas and no need to pay expensive monthly parking (or less spent on public transit). Fewer meals out means more money in your pocket.

2. More Control

You are your own boss. You approve your vacation. You approve your sick days. You approve your expenses. You approve your work schedule. You choose your work location. You decide how and when you do your work.

More Flexibility

In addition to determining your own day-to-day schedule, or not following a specific schedule if that works for you and your work, you also have the ability to take on a variety of work. You aren’t pigeon-holed into one niche that you can’t get out of. You can stretch your wings, develop new skills, send yourself on training, take on new work using your new skill set. All without begging for approvals or competing with co-workers year over year to see who gets what slice of the professional development pie. Only to realize that it doesn’t even matters in the end because after the training ends, employee so often never get chance to use their new skill set because they’re just so good at X, their employer will never let them try to do Y.

3. No Bullshit

Well that’s blunt. But it’s accurate, right? Any workplace, even the best, has a certain amount of bullshit to contend with. Co-workers mired in gossip and drama. Colleagues smiling at you while they step on your head in their quest to climb that corporate ladder as high and as fast as possible. Toxic people whose consistently negative disposition can immediately suck the oxgyen out of any room they enter. Managers and executives who push their problems down the food chain with the oh-so-helpful mentorship of “just get it done”.

And everyone competing for the same small slice of the promotion-and-bonus pie.

4. Best Work Environment

When you’re your own boss and you run your office, your work environment is dictated only by you (and your budget, of course). Mac or PC? iPhone or Android? Tablet or laptop? You can use the technology you like, set up the way you like it. The downside obviously is that while the decisions are yours, so is the execution. You need to be your own IT support and take the appropriate precautions to secure and maintain your systems. But again, the payoff is worth it.

How about a new office chair? Or maybe you’d like to try a standing desk for a while? Go for it. If you have the budget, you simply buy what you need. And expense it to your own company, of course. Aside from the tech toys, how about having the freedom to work away from those horrible cubicle farms? Priceless.

5. Ability To Be Yourself

Perhaps more so than any other reason, this is what I love about being self-employed. It’s only since I’ve been self-employed (over 12 years now!) that I truly feel that I’ve had the ability to do my best work. Not the best that I’m allowed to do; but the best that I’m able to do.

No Discouragement

Performance reviews are like the modern day equivalent of a whip. Ok, maybe that goes a little far. But let’s face it, the aim of most performance reviews is to keep employees in their place. The organization already knows how much money is allocated for bonuses and promotions. The performance review process is simply a rationalization, on paper, of how they’ve decided to divvy up the goods. It’s top down, not bottom up. If there are 5 bonuses available for 100 people, then 5 people get rewarded. It doesn’t matter that perhaps 75 of those 100 people truly went above and beyond in their daily jobs. It doesn’t matter how dedicated or how hard 70 of those people worked, they’re staying exactly where they are. Status quo.

Is anything more discouraging than knowing that none of your efforts matter? That no matter what your commitment, dedication, late nights, weekends, none of it has value because it’s all pre-determined anyway?

When you’re self-employed, every reward is yours. Every ounce of effort that you put into your work is returned back to you in the form of customers, sales, opportunities. No effort is ever wasted.

No Conformity

Are you an introvert that constantly gets pressured to attend office social events and engage in silly employee ‘reindeer games’? Does your refusal to participate somehow make its way into a discussion with your boss around performance review time?

Are you an extrovert who is constantly silenced and stifled from sharing your views in group meetings? Does your propensity to speak up somehow make its way into a discussion with your boss around performance review time?

Does your organization talk a lot about maintaining its “culture”, or hiring people who are a good “fit” with its culture?

It all amounts to the same thing, and none of it involves being accepting of different personalities and perspectives.  A consistent, uniform “type” of staff?  Easy to manage, easy to control.

No Costumes

This is a very minor convenience, but an enjoyable one none the less. Whether it’s a uniform or a dress code, employees often have to spend money on clothes that they wouldn’t otherwise wear, because their organization mandates that’s how they should look. It seems like such a bizarre concept when you write it down, but it’s an accepted fact of the business world.

One of the many small pleasures of working for yourself is simply that you get to choose what to wear every day. Almost like…a grown-up.

Must Have Checklist for Starting a Business

Starting a Business ChecklistTurning dreams into reality requires action.  Imagining, day-dreaming, wondering, and googling only take you so far.  Which is to say, they take you nowhere at all.  Most people rationalize inaction as “waiting for the right moment”.  Really, they’re waiting because they’re either afraid/unsure, or they simply don’t know where to start.

So in that spirit, I pulled together some of the key “to do” items that must be checked off the list before embarking on any new business.

Top 10 To Do’s When Starting A Business

  • Make sure your business is something you have passion for. There’s no separation of “work life” and “personal life” when you’re responsible for generating your own income. For entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, freelancers, and other small business owners, work and life are highly integrated. If you don’t love it, you’ll leave it. Sooner than you think.
  • Make sure your business is something people need. It doesn’t matter that you would buy your service or product. It only matters that other people will.
  • Spend some time doing market research on your business idea. Get a sense of who the competition is, and who your potential customers are.
  • Figure out what value your service or product provides. If you had everything in place to begin your business tomorrow, how much effort would it take every day? How much would you charge people for your service or product? How much would people be willing to pay?
  • Figure out how much income you can actually generate. Make a list of potential customers who would buy your service next week, next month, next year. Determine what percentage of potential customers will become actual customers.
  • Find your bottom line. How long will it take to break even, and then how much longer after that will it take to start making a profit?
  • Invest in a consultation with a lawyer, to at least know what you need to have in place, from a legal perspective, before you start. Some things can be deferred until income starts flowing in. But some things you’ll need sooner that later.
  • Get the word out. Generate buzz. Create a web site. Keep it simple at first. Use digital and social marketing. Tell your friends and colleagues. And their friends and colleagues.
  • Know exactly how to collect and track money from customers. Manage your billing flawlessly. Invoice mistakes do not instill confidence, regardless of your business niche.
  • Hustle, deliver, improve, refine, repeat!