Self-employed personals: The biggest problem founders and small business owners have is that they’re experts in their field and novices in what it really takes to effectively run a business.
That’s what usually trips them up, sooner or later.
Don’t let that happen to you.
Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know about business.
Starting with these tips guaranteed to help keep you and your company out of hot water.
Some are straightforward, others are counterintuitive,
But they’re all true. And some day they’ll save your butt.
1. Self-employed personals: Always make sure there is and will be enough cash in the bank.
Period. The most common business-failure mode, hands down, is running out of cash.
If you know you’ve got a cash flow or liquidity problem coming up, fix it now.
2. Self-employed personals: You can’t fire bad employees fast enough.
You just can’t. Just make sure you know they’re the problem, not you (see next tip).
3. Self-employed personals: The problem is probably you.
When I was a young manager, my company sent us all to a week of quality training.
Where the most important concept we learned was that 90 percent of all problems are management problems.
When things aren’t going well, the first place to look for answers is in the mirror.
4. Self-employed personals: Take care of your stars.
This goes for every company, big and small.
The cost of losing a star employee is enormous, yet business leaders rarely take the time to ensure their top performers are properly motivated, challenged, and compensated.
5. Self-employed personals :Your people are not your kids, your personal assistants, or your shrink.
If you use and abuse them that way, you will come to regret it. Capiche?
6. Self-employed personals: Learn to say “yes” and “no” a lot.
The two most important words business owners and founders have at their disposal are “yes” and “no.” Learn to say them a lot. And that means being decisive. The most important reason to focus – to be clear on what your company does – is to be clear on all the things it doesn’t do.
7. Self-employed personals: Listen to your customers.
It boggles my mind how little most entrepreneurs value their customers when, not only are their feedback and input among the most critical information they will ever learn, but their repeat business is the easiest business to get.
8. Learn two words: meritocracy and nepotism.
The first is how you run an organization – by recognizing, rewarding, and compensating based solely on ability and achievement. The second is how you don’t run an organization – by playing favorites and being biased.
Related: Fear Alone Can Never Hurt You
9. Self-employed personals: Know when and when not to be transparent.
Transparency is as detrimental at some times as it is beneficial at others. There are times to share openly and times to zip it. You need to know when and with whom to do one versus the other. It comes with experience.
10. Self-employed personals: Trust your gut.
This phrase is often repeated but rarely understood. It means that your own instincts are an extremely valuable decision-making tool. Too often we end up saying in retrospect and with regret, “Damn, I knew that was a bad idea.” But the key is to know how to access your instincts. Just sit, be quiet, and listen to yourself.
11. Protect and defend your intellectual property.
Most of you don’t know the difference between a copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent. That’s not acceptable. If you don’t protect and defend your IP, you will lose your only competitive advantage.
12 Self-employed personals: Learn to read and write effective agreements.
You know the expression “good fences make good neighbors?” It’s the same in business.
The more effective your agreements are, the better your business relationships will be.
13. Run your business like a business.
Far too many entrepreneurs run their business like an extension of their personal finances. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Construct the right business entity and keep it separate from your personal life.
14 Self-employed personals: Know your finances inside and out.
If you don’t know your revenues, expenses, capital requirements, profits (gross and net), debt, cash flow, and effective tax rate – among other things – you’re asking for trouble. Big trouble.
15. Self-employed personals: You don’t know what you don’t know.
Humility is a powerful trait for leaders, and that goes for new business owners, veteran CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between. More times than not, you will come to regret thinking you knew all the answers.
Behind every failed company are dysfunctional, delusional, or incompetent business leaders. The irony is, none of them had the slightest idea that was true at the time. Even sadder, most of them still don’t. Don’t end up like one of them.
16. Behave as if you are at work
Because you are. This sounds obvious, but few of us do it.
We slob around the kitchen in our pyjamas at lunchtime and send half-baked, error-filled emails while frying bacon. We make work calls from the toilet and do our self-assessment tax return online at 11.58pm on January 31st, while downing gin and weeping into the phone at the nice girl at HM Revenue and Customs.
None of this is very conducive towards producing good work or being offered more.
Even if you work from home, it’s just occasionally a good idea to pretend you are in an office. Get properly dressed, turn up on time, maintain an organised workspace and try to keep life and work separate.
17. Self-employed personals: Be a good boss
The most damaging trap that many self-employed people fall into is not treating themselves well. It’s obvious why; everything costs, and we pay for it all. There is no stationery cupboard to raid; no tech team who will fix a computer or magically replace a broken mobile phone.
So we try to cut corners at every opportunity. We scrimp, starve and deny ourselves the basics that we need to do our job well.
So be a good boss and treat yourself as you would expect an employer to treat you. If you travel for work, travel well. Don’t rent a cold, damp room with no desk or proper lighting, as I foolishly did one grim summer in Edinburgh. Stay in a hotel. Have a nice breakfast. You deserve this – it’s not a luxury and you don’t have to justify it or feel guilty.
18. Get paid
Securing the work and getting it done is the fun part. Actually making sure you get paid for it always feels like an extra chore. After years of freelancing, I think I’m owed literally thousands in unpaid work and expenses. I am just hopeless at keeping track and chasing people up for money, as are most of my self-employed friends.
Don’t let this happen to you. Keep a note of every piece of work you do and tick it off only when you have been paid. You don’t need a fancy spreadsheet to do this, though they do help.
19. Banish guilt
When I’m at work, I feel guilty about not being with my children. When I’m with my children, I feel guilty about not doing my work. It’s classic lose-lose situation, and so many of us do it. So stop doing it. When you work, work. When you don’t, don’t.
In my experience, men are (generally) much better at this than women. When they go to work, they are at work, whereas we pointlessly haul several tonnes of maternal guilt around with us on our aching shoulders all day. Learn from them: lose the guilt
20.Self-employed personals: Take a break
You know what they say about running a business being like a millstone around your neck? Well I don’t know if you’ve tried living with a millstone around your neck, but I’m pretty sure it hurts after a while and results in very costly osteopath bills. So sometimes you need to take it off.
Take a holiday. Allow yourself sick leave.
Have at least one day per week off, even if it can’t be at the weekend.
21.Self-employed personals:Get a raise
As your experience increases (and with it your skills and standard of work) this should be reflected in your pay.
In an employee role you would have regular appraisal meetings with your boss at which point you would, every so often, ask for a pay rise.
The self-employed can, and must, do the same. Inflation is real and your income needs to reflect this, so don’t undersell yourself.
How else are you going to afford the £400-a-week caffeine habit of the self-employed?
22. Use ‘work speak’
I learned this very late in the freelance game and it’s improved my professional life immeasurably.
It applies especially to working parents, whose home and work lives have a terrible habit of running into each other and getting into a massive punch-up.
23. Self-employed personals:Learn to say no
Self-employed people very rarely turn down work and our employers know this.
This is why they often treat us like desperate, drooling little puppets, throwing urgent work at us at the last minute, demanding it immediately.
Sometimes enthusiasm and efficiency are essential.
But being occasionally unavailable often has the magical effect of making you instantly more desirable to potential employers and thus getting more work in the long run.
Try it. Just say “no, I have deadlines to meet, so I can’t do it today. But I can do it tomorrow.”
24. Self-employed personals: Have passion projects.
This is the fun bit. Often people go self-employed because they want to pursue their own projects.
It is very easy to get carried away with other work because that’s the work that earns money and pays the bills. Passion projects don’t pay the bills (but they might one day!).
YouTube was a passion project for me and look how that turned out! Not bad.
It’s healthy to have side hustles and projects.
Things that you love that keep your creative juices flowing and your brain ticking.
You might find that they even help you with your other work or you find a way to monetise your passion project. Huzzah! (But then it becomes a job and you’ll have to find another passion project – the cycle of fun continues!).
Currently my passion projects are Banging Book Club and this blog.
Neither are making me money at the moment, technically I’m losing money (time spent on them, money spent on books, RSS feed hosting, website domain, blog design etc.)
But I love them and they look good on my virtual CV and hopefully down the line I’ll be able to cash in on them as a little cherry on top.
Banging Book Club is especially important to me because it’s something that I do with my friends.
If you can find a passion project with mates, even better! As long as working together won’t ruin your friendship.
So there are many tips for the self-employed.
Like I said, the whole point of being self-employed is so you can work for yourself .
And do it your own way so if these don’t help by all means ignore me and do your own thing!
If you have any other tips that work for you please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear them.