You’re thinking about changing careers, and it’s scary. I get it. I’ve been there.Right now, you wake up, go to a job you hate, try to make an effort (kind of), go home, try to squeeze your life into the 4-5 hours before you have to go to bed, only to wake up and do it all over again.In 2015, I made the change from working in an office for someone else to becoming my own boss. Here’s my best advice to anyone considering making a similar move.Have a schedule.There is such a freedom that comes with working for yourself. It can be tempting to sleep as late as you want, stay up as late as you want, and figure out your schedule as you go along. Nothing could be more dangerous to your productivity when you’re working to establish a successful business. It’s important to remember that you’re still “going to work,” even if said work happens to be for your own business. This based on anecdotal advice- it’s proven by research.
Daily goals are a must.Many business owners get stuck in the cycle of working when it feels good. When orders are coming in, new customers are calling, and the numbers are looking good, working is fun. When these things aren’t happening? Not so fun. Successful business owners do business-building activities every day, even when their numbers aren’t on the upswing.Working backward is key. Figure out yearly goals. Break them down to quarterly, monthly, etc. Each activity you do throughout each day should inch you closer to your ultimate goals. Doing a lot of work is only effective if it’s the right work.Forget the idea of, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”The quote, “If you love what you do, you’ll kind of work all the time,” is much more accurate. As a business owner, checking the boxes and going through the motions is not enough to breed success. There are times when you’ll feel like you’re going over the top, that you deserve a break (and you’re not wrong about those things), but you’ll need to keep going. Find ways to keep that motivation high. That might mean reading personal/ professional development books, or engaging yourself in a network of fellow business builders. People who work a 9-5 job will not be able to identify with what you’re doing, so don’t expect them to.
Some days will be crazy busy, some days will be slow, and you won’t have much control over that, at least in the beginning. One of the supposed perks of running your own business is making your own hours. While this will eventually be the case for a successful business owner, it’s often not the case at the beginning. You work when the work is there. This might mean a few 18 hour days in a row, followed by a week where work isn’t coming in. It’s important to remember that these ebbs and flows are a normal part of owning a business. No matter how high or low workload, you’ll need to keep your head up and be raring to go the minute the work comes in.
How you present yourself to clients matters.Appearance, demeanor, and response time matter. Working for yourself isn’t an excuse to live in sweats and answer phone calls when you get around to it. You need to present yourself and your business in a way that demands respect from others. When you’re talking to your first client, act as if they’re your 100th client. Don’t let on that you’re still figuring it out- it’s all about fake it til you make it while you’re ironing out the kinks.Bottom line: you can do this, you should do this, and it’s likely going to be harder than you think. Knowing what to expect will help you stay the course when things get tough. The fact that you’re working to do the research before you make this move shows that you aren’t taking this lightly, which is smart. Set up your business plan, save up the money you’ll need to cover your expenses for the coming six months, and make the move. Don’t let fear- or other people’s opinions- stop you from taking this leap.
Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.
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