If you’re considering self-employment, there has never been a better time to make the leap to independence. Today, many individuals are pursuing an independent careers and companies are increasingly engaging independent talent. That’s not too surprising as self-employment offers many advantages such as the ability to pursue your passion, control your own schedule, and be your own boss.
At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that running your own business is also a lot of hard work. If you think self-employment may be a part of your future, ask yourself these five questions first to make sure you’re on the right path.
1. What is motivating me to pursue self-employment?
Being unhappy at work doesn’t necessarily mean you should switch careers entirely; you may simply have a problem with your workplace, colleagues, or company mission. For example, you may like the industry in which you’re employed, but be unhappy with the corporate culture of your workplace.
Take note of what you like about your current job and what you’d like to change. By pinpointing the values that are most important to you, you can begin to establish an idea of the principles that your future business will be built on.
2. Can I sell my talents?
Take some time to consider what you like to do and what you don’t like to do—both at work and during your free time. This will help you find your niche: your identifiable, sellable talent. In order to build a successful business, you will need to make sure there is a market for your skills and then package them in a way that meets the needs of clients.
3. Do I need additional education?
As a newcomer, it can be easy to feel like you’re entering the field with a disadvantage. Even if the business you want to build isn’t far off from what you’ve done in your previous professional life, it is still important to learn as much as you can about the field you want to enter: the major companies, your competitors, top trends, and who potential future clients may be.
Online courses, professional certifications, or classes at a local community college are all great ways to round out your education while you begin to build your business.
4. What does my current network look like?
As you get ready to start your career as an independent professional, networking will be an essential task. Networking will help you meet people in your industry, connect with potential clients, and get the name of your business out there. Forming connections that can vouch for your skills and work habits will help you catch interest and land projects.
Take a look at your current network. Do you know anyone who is self-employed that you could speak to for advice or mentorship? Consider how you would go about building your network to build a group of people who can help sustain and grow your business. That may come in the form of attending industry events, or reaching out to contacts on social networks.
5. Am I mentally prepared for the self-employed lifestyle?
Some of the many benefits of working independently are freedom, flexibility, and a greater control over work-life balance. While these are great trade-offs for many people, they may not be right for everyone. Deciding how you spend your time, working from a home office, and managing all of the tasks associated with running a business is very different from corporate office life.
Another good way to test out the lifestyle that comes with self-employment is to start out part time. If you are able to do so with your current schedule, consider moonlighting or working on a part time basis to see what running your own business would really be like. Self-employment is the ultimate balancing act; you’ll need to set personal and professional boundaries and give yourself time to make mistakes, learn, and iterate.
If you’re considering becoming self-employed, learn how to prepare yourself by reading: How to Transition from a Full Time Job to Self-Employment.