Free Your Inner ENTREPRENEUR: Finding Your Path in the Self-Employed World

A few months ago I made my transition as a self-employed artist and author. It was kind of fun at the beginning. I stayed at home, drank green tea, and watched Oprah. But reality had to set in and I had to hit the ground running so I called a good friend of mines Lisa B. who has lived this lifestyle for over 3 years and is doing pretty well. Because we are great friends, I was delighted when she took the time to talk with me for a four hour period about my journey and where I wanted to take myself in this new lifestyle. A few of the things we discussed dealt with focusing on my replication of current skill sets, and professionalism as a remote worker.

I hope you find some of these tips helpful.

I know you have all heard it, and you are going to hear it again. You need to save three to six months of your salary from your current position. Yes, that’s right. You need to have some money in the bank because you don’t want to leave a job and have no back up on finances. Also you need to have a good amount of contacts you are in touch with and be able to maintain those relationships. As you get closer to your transition you will need those connections for future business. Try to treat every relationship as a potential client. Be professional always! Your resume should be updated before you make your transition and make sure that you also write a list of references. Get in touch with those you have worked with and ask if you can list that person as a reference. When using that reference list after you make your transition into self-employed life, please make sure to contact each person on that list before you use their name for a position you are applying for. The last thing you want to do is tell the potential employer to call your friend and you haven’t called your reference to tell them what company is going to call and what position you are applying for. Just give them a heads up and that will be much better and I’m sure they will appreciate it.

As a self-employed person you must wear several hats. You must be the master of all trades and multiplication of your current skills will work. For example, I am an author, but also teach poetry, can write press releases, tutor children, prepare media kits, and book myself for events. I used a lot of my own skills to my advantage when I found myself in the position of a self-employed worker. I became a master of all these trades. Not only having these skills but me in a better position but being really professional with all the places I found myself in. Basic work ethics still applied, coming to the site on time, preparing reports and submitting on time, keeping daily or weekly deadlines for items, communicating effectively, and being open to criticism of work related items. You must be able to do the same thing you have done for years as an employed person in a regular 9 to 5. Find your niche and go for it. You must though have a plan.

As I entered the phase for living the new lifestyle, I discussed with several family and friends about this new thing, and of course, got some positive feedback but more negative ones. Don’t get me wrong folks want to be happy for you but this lifestyle is not for the faint. You must be bold and unafraid to live outside the box. What helped me more in my new lifestyle was using the internet and current contacts to further myself. Once I found myself in the position of unemployed – I decided to pursue several different paths with one theme or one road – to be self employed but still being able to get where I wanted to go. I contacted my arts organizations, went on interviews, signed up for a temp agency, used Craig list to find odd jobs that would allow me to still work from home, and created my own work by creating on line ads and hiring myself out to do things that people didn’t want to do. I created weekly goals for myself like, check for jobs and apply for jobs. Other goals were to follow up on phone calls I made, or contact past schools or places I have done some programs with and let them know I would be available for future programming.

Here are a few basic things to get started. If you don’t have DSL or Broadband and a top of the line computer, that could be something you need to invest in. Without these things you might have a straight problem, especially if you are planning to work for yourself at home and surfing on the internet will be great because if you can invest in an all in one printer that has a fax, scanner, and copier attached to it, that might make things more easier. Believe me, once you get really busy, you don’t want to spend tons of money at your local currency exchange or office store because you have to get that information faxed weekly. And you must know that everything you spend will be returned to you so save your receipts for your taxes in the next year. Business cards are another necessity because you are going to be meeting and talking with people. Make sure to have an alternative number placed on your card like a cell phone and a good email address where you can immediately address all inquiries.

You no longer have the security of the blanket of regular checks floating in, so you must save every dime and make your money work for you. Are you paying your bills on time? If not, you need to reconstruct your budget to ensure you make yourself financially responsible. Create a weekly budget and stick to it. Don’t spend your money without a direct plan. If you want your money to work for you then you must sit down and think about your future and how you want to plan for it. If you can’t save in the beginning, some where down the line you might have some problems. Be smart – set up a business account, and get business checks and keep good accounting. One book I would recommend for this – women or not is, “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach. It’s a good book that will get you to thinking about how to save and you can save! As a self-employed person you will need to have money stacked somewhere for future reference because business might slow up during certain periods. You also have to plan for the unexpected. You don’t have the security of a regular job.

I’ll have more tips as I think of them, these are a few to get you started. Good luck if you decide to make that move and know that you can do it. But you must have a plan, stick to it, know that it won’t be easy, that you must be BOLD and daring! Whether you have the complete support of family or not, do this lifestyle if you are complete committed to work the hardest you have in your life.

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