Last Saturday I celebrated one year of being self-employed full time! This has seriously been the most amazing year of my life! I love what I do and I love that I get to do it every day! That's not to say it wasn't a difficult decision at the time, but it's been the most rewarding one I've ever made.
I put together a few pieces of advice that I've learned during my first year of being my own boss. If you're thinking of taking the leap, I hope these tips will help you :)
1. Love What You Do This may sound like common sense, but it really is true. What you used to do as a creative outlet or to relax is what you'll be doing several hours a day...every day. Make sure your "hobby" is something you are willing to turn into a "job". That being said, if you love what you do, your "job" isn't really "work".
I absolutely love what I do and I'd be doing it even if no one paid me. I love coming up with new designs and new ideas. I love watching things come to life in the laser. I love being creative. And I love working with my customers.
2. Be Prepared to Work Long Hours Unless you're lucky enough to afford an assistant, be prepared to put in a lot of hours. This comes back to loving what you do. Unlike in the corporate world, the more effort you put into your "job" the more you'll get in return. You have to work for what you want and this can require long hours.
On a normal day, I generally work 12-16 hours. This includes everything from packing orders, answering emails, blogging, making product, listing product, etc. I also work weekends and holidays. When I worked my factory job, I used to count down the days til Friday. But now everyday is a Friday and it's great! I can also take time off whenever I want too :)
3. Wear Lots of Hats As a business owner of a one-woman-show, it is necessary to be able to multitask and prioritize your time. You have to be the owner, marketing director, buyer, accountant, secretary, creative director, maker, etc, etc, etc. It would be fun to just create new things all day, but there is much more to it when running a business.
Every day I make a to do list of things that need done that day. I start my day be answering emails and reading blogs. Many times I'm also running the laser while I'm on the computer. I then package orders so the mailman can pick them up (and save me a trip to the post office). Then I get to start creating :) At the end of the day I do my quiet work. I list new items, answer more emails and write blog posts.
4. Go Over Your Budget (then go over it again) You might think this should be at the top of the list. While it is very important, I still think loving what you do is more important. Yes, you need to pay your bills, but if in six months you're burnt out, you won't be making any money. So make sure you love what you do before you even consider working for yourself full time.
I ran numbers for several months before I knew for sure that things would be okay. I knew exactly how much I needed to make and I knew I could do it. I also made the decision to sell my SUV. It wasn't a necessity (we have a spare car) and the payment wasn't worth having to stay at my factory job any longer. It felt great being out from under that payment and knowing I had that much more wiggle room with our budget. It is also important to talk over the budget with your spouse/domestic partner/room mate/whatever. Convincing Jesse things would be okay was a little trickier than convincing myself. It was a huge step and we both needed to be on board. After a few good talks, we both agreed it was time :)
I hope these tips help those of you considering working full time for yourself. While it is a lot to think about, if you're able to, I recommend it to anyone. I am a much happier, more satisfied person working for myself. Every day is a "vacation" day, even when I'm at "work" :)
Those of you who are already working for yourselves full time...any other tips for my readers?