Most common mistakes we make when we go self-employed

Why did you go self-employed?

Before we look at the most common mistakes we make when we go self-employed, let’s rewind and remember why we made that decision in the first place.

We probably had a light-bulb moment somewhere along the line when we were still employed. We thought (or heard someone else say) “There has to be more to life than this?” or “If you’re not working to achieve your own dreams, you’re working to achieve someone else’s.”

For me, I read these words by the author of Be a Free Range HumanMarianne Cantwell:

“If you only had one life, what would you do with it?”

Something clicks, it all makes so much sense and we venture boldly into the world of self-employment. I was full of excitement at being my own boss, setting my own hours and making my own decisions. Fantastic!

So, what are these mistakes? I’ll hold my hands up and tell you – I’ve made them too, to a greater or lesser degree and I have to stay vigilant in order to avoid making them over and over again.

So, what are the common mistakes we make when we go self-employed?

Mistake #1: Working 9 – 5 and then some when you go self-employed!

It’s easy to keep doing what you know.

So, you were an accountant in a big corporate firm and you become a self-employed accountant working with smaller businesses. You fill your days with work for your new clients and then you realise that you have your own accounts, marketing and admin to do. So, it eats into your evenings and weekends. You’re now working 60 hours a week for yourself to avoid working 40 hours for someone else!

Make sure you build time into your working week to get the admin, the planning, the networking, sales and marketing done. Working on your business is just as important as working in your business.

Mistake #2: Trying to do everything yourself when you go self-employed

This is related to #1.

If you love the “doing” part of your work so much that you want to do it, full-time, then you have to bring in some help with the other stuff so that you don’t burn yourself out.

Out-sourcing your admin to a VA or employing a book-keeper can give you those hours back and also help protect your sanity and your personal relationships.

Mistake #3: Undercharging when you go self-employed

This is so common, perhaps it should have been at the top of the list! Just because you’re new in business, does not mean you have to be cheap.

You may do some pro-bono work in the early stages but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that clients will only hire you if you’re cheaper than the competition. It’s just not true.

If the quality of your work is on a par or superior to your competition, you’re worth the same or more. If you’re more reliable than your competitors, you’re worth more and if your customer service is better than your competitors’, you’re worth your weight in gold!

Mistake #4: Thinking you can do it all alone when you go self-employed

None of us wants to admit to this one but hey, we’re all guilty of it some of the time. Just because you’re a super talented [insert your title] doesn’t mean you know everything about running a business or that you won’t have down days.

Investing in myself by hiring my business coach was the most sensible decision I made in business. Many of our sessions simply feel like conversations but, every time, I come away feeling invigorated and ready to progress my business. A bit like I used to feel after a conversation or meeting with my Senior Management team in my employed days. The thing is, when we become self-employed, the buck really does stop here. Having someone independent who will listen to your challenges and point you in the right direction is essential to your success.

A great coach will help you gain perspective over your business. She’ll remind you why you’re doing what you chose to do. She’ll be your loudest cheer-leader and your most constructive critic. And, when you put what you discuss into action and commit 100% to your own success, your coach will pay for herself in no time! 

Whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while, it’s easy to make one or more of these mistakes.

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you recognise your own behaviour above. As I said, we all make these mistakes – that’s why they’re so common.

The difference is only a few people stop making them and they are the ones who go on to have enjoyable AND successful businesses.  I know which camp I want to be in; how about you?

I think it was Einstein who said…………