Inspired by Stephen R. Covey’s self-development and business bestseller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” we take a look at how self-employed people can be more effective in attaining their goals and staying productive.
The rise of the so-called “Gig Economy” has been making headlines recently, as the number of self-employed people in the UK has reached a 40-year high.
One in 7 British people now work for themselves and the trend is not slowing down.
There can be huge benefits to self-employment. You have freedom over your work hours, you have total control over your income, and you may even be able to work from anywhere in the world.
Making the big change from a regular 9-5 life to being your own boss can be daunting. You might worry that you won’t be disciplined or organised enough. Will you find enough clients? It’s understandable to be intimidated.
But the good news is that there are certain habits that you can develop to make you more effective and help you attain your goals:
1. Create your ideal workspace
One of the great perks for many self-employed is being able to create their own work environment. Visualise the kind of workplace where you and any potential employees would enjoy spending time. This is an important exercise both philosophically and physically.
It entails creating an organised and comfortable office space, but should also take your values and work ethos into consideration. Do you value a good work-life balance? Then make sure you prioritise it by implementing flexible working times. Have you always admired social enterprises? Then give back to your community by supporting local causes. The choice is yours.
2. Keep an eye on the bigger picture
It is a great idea to write a mission statement for your business that you can keep in mind at all times. A mission statement can prevent you from being side-tracked.
In the beginning it will be tempting to take on any project or client. It’s easy to get distracted by big projects or glamorous clients that pay well. You might even enjoy that work. But if this work does not ultimately help you progress towards the ideal version of your business, then you are losing sight of the bigger picture.
Try to only choose work that you feel passionate about. After all, isn’t that the reason you started working for yourself in the first place.
3. Know what you’re good at
It doesn’t matter how much you love your business, there will always be tedious tasks that you don’t enjoy or aren’t able to do well.
In the beginning it will feel as if you’re the CEO, CFO, personal assistant, designer and marketing department all rolled into one person.
It’s easier than ever to find reliable virtual assistants and contract workers to outsource some of your workload. Once you’re no longer distracted by tedious tasks you will have more energy and creativity to handle only the work that is most important.
4. Surround yourself with like-minded people
Self-employment can become quite isolating and lonely, especially for solo-preneurs. However, just because you’re working for yourself doesn’t mean you have to deal with every challenge alone.
It is easier than ever to connect with other entrepreneurs and freelancers. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups to exchange advice and support.
Meeting people in person can be even more beneficial. Attend relevant conferences and local meet-ups to keep up-to-date and meet new people.
And don’t be afraid to ask others for advice or help, you’ll find that the self-employed community is very supportive.
5. Be organised
It can be very challenging to juggle all your personal and professional responsibilities and stay organised.
This is especially important if you work from home, where you’ll be confronted with dozens of distractions every day. Create ‘office hours’ during which you are not available for anything but business, and inform clients, relatives and friends of them.
Make use of the incredible range of productivity tips, tools and apps that are available online.
Two of the simplest ways to stay organised and productive are to plan out your day the night before and to complete the most important task first thing in the morning.
6. Money matters
Most people tend to undersell themselves, especially when starting out. This is bad for business, as clients will not value your services if you don’t value yourself.
Setting your rates can feel very intimidating and complicated. How should you charge your clients, per hour or per project?
You should always start your rate setting with the end goal in mind: how much do you need to earn to make ends meet and how much do you want to earn to live comfortably? Calculate your hourly rates from those figures and then set yourself a pricing strategy.
It can help to offer different pricing packages for your services, such as silver, gold and diamond packages. Clients will feel they are in charge and get a good deal and you have control over your rates.
7. Always learn new skills
Once you have found clients you love working with, are getting paid a decent salary and have a system in place that keeps you organised, it’s tempting to get comfortable. Many self-employed people fall into this trap.
You should always prioritise keeping on top of the latest industry trends and the new tools and techniques out there. Otherwise, a few years on, you might find yourself completely out-of-date when searching for new clients.
Engage with other people in your field, read relevant blogs and articles and practice your skills with personal and passion projects to stay on top of your game.
You don’t have to adopt all of these habits to start working for yourself, but they are great guidelines to keep coming back to while growing your business.
Now we’d like to hear from you. Which habit do you think is the most important?