Starting your own business is a dream for many. But the beginning stages have their own problems. I call them Self-employment Stumbling Blocks. Here are just a few:
1. Possible loss of focus:
One thing that happens when you become self-employed is you may lose a sense of focus. You no longer have a job title that someone else has given you; a description that establishes your place in the world of work. What you do, when you do it, and how you do it is all up to you.
It is your desire and motivation that will make things happen; you cannot afford to wait for others to lead, you are the leader.
HINT: No matter how busy you become, it’s important to take a break. Even if you go for a coffee or a walk, this helps tremendously to clear your head. The ‘fog of war’ refers to the chaos that occurs in the midst of battle. Without clear vision and correct information, costly mistakes are made, often causing ‘friendly’ casualties. Without focus, your efforts may become chaotic: your dream becomes the casualty.
Many people, when they first become self-employed, are not going to invest in an office; they operate with minimal overhead. Quite often the first location for a self-employed person is their kitchen table or their dining table, i.e. working from home. A problem that many home business people encounter is the difficulty in separating business and home life. Your spouse may see you at home and come up with lists of errands to run or projects to accomplish; not realizing that this disrupts your business routine. Children especially find it difficult to understand that sometimes, when parents are at home, they are really at work.
Try to establish a definite routine: for example, the hours between 9 AM and noon are work hours, or establish a definite area, however small, that is devoted solely to your business.
Hint: Contrary to the beliefs of those in your personal life, you are at work even though you are home. Set boundaries and ask that they respect your workday when it comes to phone calls, pop-in visits, etc.
3. Loss of Infrastructure
One of the key things that people miss when they leave a business environment is that the administrative and other support they had, and maybe didn’t even notice, is gone. In an office setting, you might have an IT department that will help you sort out any of the technical problems you need to deal with; you’ll have an accounting department that’s going to sort out all the invoicing and expenses; you might have had a secretary or receptionist, and now all of that is no longer available to you. At first you will be doing many of these things yourself. Then as your business grows, you will begin hiring people or ‘farming out’ many of your responsibilities.
Engaging a bookkeeping service, hiring friends and family on a part-time basis; these will allow you to run your business as a ‘lean’ business entity.
Hint: Keep your office infrastructure separate from that used by other family members. Don’t risk losing valuable information by having others use your computer for their personal needs.