Starting from scratch, looking to make that initial leap into the unknown? If you’ve decided to ditch office life to finally work for yourself, what have you let yourself in for? This blog isn’t about making money, it isn’t even about all those things you should be doing to promote or market your products or services. No, this blog is about what it’s like to work for yourself and what it takes. It’s about how to look after yourself, how to set boundaries (and goals) and how to take your business forward without sacrificing your health, or your sanity.
How are you going to do that? By taking on board our advice and saying a hard no nearly as much as you say yes.
Let’s face it we all, to some extent or another, are looking for the silver bullet. We want to work fewer hours, doing something we love and get paid a lot. Not just enough to pay the bills but enough to have fun, buy some clothes with and go on holiday with. That kind of money. Some people even manage to find that perfect balance, or at least they say they do on their social media platforms.
But the stark reality for most of us is that when we start up on our own, we’re under pressure from the constant fear of failure and it’s this fear that drives us to work each and every hour under the sun in case we can’t pay those bills.
While that’s understandable and perhaps even necessary, at least for the first few months, it’s not sustainable. So once you’re up and running then it’s time to get organised.
Set Your Limits
If you’ve set up an online business then somewhere you’ll probably have mentioned your business hours. If you have a Google site, then you certainly will have. You set those times and it’s up to you now to stick to them. This might involve a little bit of juggling your work priorities to make it work, but once it’s done, it’s done and that’s you.
Overworked, tired, stressed business owners do not become a successful businessman or woman, they just become more overworked, tired and stressed. If you keep following the same pattern of behaviour but don’t see an improvement in your results, stop that pattern of behaviour and re-evaluate.
Don’t take phone calls or answer emails outside your core hours, instead make it a habit to switch your answering service on and your out of office email responder. It might feel like you’ll lose customers but you won’t. They’ll be back the following day because they know your product or service is worth waiting for.
In the same vein don’t be tempted to take work home with you, if you can possibly help it. Achieve this by offering realistic deadlines for pieces of work.
If working for yourself also involves working from home then for a great many homeworkers it’s easy for self care to slip out of the window. Where you were once up, showered, had eaten a good breakfast and were out of the door, now you’re struggling to find a reason to leave your bed to work and opening the curtains just seems like a waste of energy. This might be something of a small exaggeration but there’s a ring of truth about it.
Your needs are important, screen breaks are important, getting exercise and eating something other chips is important. Treat your working day as you would if you were in a regular office. Be a great boss to yourself, take regular breaks. Get up and walk around, feed the cat, make a coffee and see how much more productive you are when you’re feeling cared for.
Give yourself a great lunch by preparing the night before and avoiding that last minute rummage into the cake box.
On the subject of exercise, find the time. It’s hard but even twenty minutes each day, over hours spent in the gym is twenty minutes you wouldn’t do otherwise. Get a dose of those endorphins and head back to work refreshed and raring to go.
Take a walk, go for a swim, lift some weights. Anything that will help clear your head.
Limit Your Socials
If comparison really is the thief of joy, then social media is a marketplace full of thieves. Limit the time you spend on the likes of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as you’ll gain nothing from reading other’s “success stories.” Whether they’re true or not, they simply serve to discourage you and convince you that you are somehow missing a trick when it comes to advertising and so forth.
Keep your socials, social and stay away from the snake oil sellers who promise to launch your business into the stratosphere or risk crashing and burning without their wisdom and insight (paid for of course).
Manage your pages, maximise your knowledge about Search Engine Optimisation, or find an agency that does, and do your own thing. By all means check out the competition but don’t get obsessed with it.
There are ups and downs for going it alone and while you may feel isolated at times, the feeling that you and you alone are making a go of things can’t be beaten. It’s worth the risk and it’s worth stepping on that roller coaster, but it’s not worth sacrificing your mental or physical health over so put your boundaries firmly in place. Home is home and work is work and the two should never become indistinguishable. When the laptop shuts down, it stays down so stow it away and hit it again fresh in the morning.
Be your own best boss, insist on screen breaks, exercise breaks, dance breaks, anything that gets the blood flowing and your eyes away from that screen for five minutes. When you’re the boss, make it your goal to be the best and start by looking after your employee, after all who else is going to?