They say marriage, birth, death, changing residence, and changing jobs are five of the more stressful situations that a human being can encounter—they all take a lot of courage. Courage, however, doesn’t pay the bills. To be successful, you not only need courage, but you also need a combination of hard work, skill, perseverance, and several personal factors that can ensure your success.
I made the change from being full-time employed to self-employed after years of preparation. Some people have the time to prepare, while others have to make an immediate decision. Downsizing and job loss are two major reasons for starting out on your own. Other reasons may be that you want to take advantage of your talents or simply change careers. There are many reasons. But, if you still have a job, why leave? Right? Maybe not.
— Influencing Factors —
Before you can take the leap into being Gainfully Unemployed, you have to step back and look at things to make sure you’re making the right decision. First, analyze why you want to make this move.
The reasons that make people decide can be divided into two categories: “reactive reasons” and “active reasons.” Reactive reasons detract from working for others—negative reasons that “push” you out. Active reasons attract you to leaving your current situation—positive reasons that “pull” you out. It is usually better to be pulled out than pushed out as reactive reasons tend to stick with you from job to job. If you’re pulled out, you’re going somewhere for greener pastures instead of leaving because you’ve become dissatisfied with policy.
In either case, the following list contains some of the more common active reasons that cause people to leave their full-time jobs:
* Finances: Get paid for the extra effort you put into your work.
* Freedom: Decide for yourself and maintain a flexible schedule.
* Quality of Life: Live a better and healthier life.
* Family: Spend more time with your family.
* Adventure: Break out of the mould and take a risk.
* Bureaucracy: Tired of the red tape and political in-fighting.
* Creativity: Express your ideas and produce your products without interference.
* Control: Take total control of your life and your direction.
Can you see any of your personal reasons listed? If so, you’re not alone.
— Do I have what it takes? —
Most people do have what it takes, but they don’t know it yet. Being able to work independently is not as easy as working for someone else, especially since you become the workforce and the management. Once you take the first step and decide to work for yourself, you then have to make it happen, successfully. That’s an entirely different situation.
It takes a certain set of characteristics to make an independent endeavor successful. Some of the more common, yet unique, traits of successful independents are as follows. Pay attention to them a judge yourself for each!
* Achievement Many people measure their achievement based on income, while others through their accomplishments. You’ll need to gauge your success on your accomplishments and achievements. This means that you must accomplish your goals and move forward to the next in an established pattern.
* Social It’s a lonely world out there, and being independent amplifies this issue. To be successful, you can’t have a need to be around people all the time, nor should it matter if you’re liked. Exercising power is important to many people and, in most cases that’s all that some people know how to do. You’re in business to achieve your goals, and that’s all there is to it. Be a non-conformist!
* Commitment You have to be able to follow through on a commitment. This means that when you sign a contract or shake a hand, you’re in to the end.
* Objectivity With commitment comes the need for an objective view. You need to weigh risks associated with a course of action as well as be realistic about your abilities.
* Expertise With your technical expertise and experiences, you should be able to properly judge your projects to determine if you can succeed.
* Attitude You’ll encounter strange, new worlds and you will have to adapt, learn, and succeed under new circumstances. Always be optimistic and always maintain your emotions when dealing with others. Be positive!
* Money Don’t take money for granted and try to view it as a means to an end. Use money as a way to accomplish things and to keep score in your new world.
* Resourceful You have to think on your feet, have enough knowledge to know where to look for answers, have a networking group available, and be a solid problem solver.
* Relationships Personal relationship skills are important, as you will need to properly represent yourself and your company under all circumstances.
* Communication Skills Communications skills are important, as you will need to provide legible presentations, reports, e-mail, and documentation to your clients.
* Anticipate Be proactive and be able to anticipate developments before they occur. If the issue is an important one, act on it before the issue requires attention.
* Organized Be able to maintain a tight, prioritized schedule and make sure you don’t waste time on items that are better left undone.
* Discipline and Hard Work Sit down and do the work. Ignore distractions and make sure you accomplish your goals.
How do your personal traits match up against those mentioned above? Take note that age, sex, martial status, and education have very little to do with the actual success of anyone deciding to become an independent. Many people succeed as teenagers while many don’t feel the desire to even try until they are in their late 40’s.
If the information doesn’t sound like you, then you’ll need to think long and hard about your decision. In some cases, you can learn those aspects you’re missing. In others, your ability to succeed is left up to your ability to adapt. Another option is to hire others to handle those tasks, or provide those traits, that you’re missing. For instance, if you’re a poor organizer, hire a secretary to manage your schedule or hire a project manager to handle your anticipation and objectivity issues.
— The Bad News —
It’s estimated that only about 30 percent of all newly founded opportunities in the United States are still in business after five years. The primary reasons for failure are poor management, from lack of necessary skills, and underestimating the amount of money it takes to get started. Do you see how the traits mentioned in the previous section come into play?
But, wait! We’re not necessarily talking about starting a business—we’re just talking about breaking away and going into business for ourselves. Well, it’s the same thing. When you work for yourself, you’re viewed as owning a business. With business ownership comes all of the rights, obligations, privileges, headaches, and benefits of owning a small business.
As a small business owner, you’re going to have less time for your personal life and you’ll probably be using much of what you own as collateral to raise money for the business. If you are willing to make those sacrifices, then let’s move on to some of the advantages and disadvantages of owning your own business.
* Pros: – Make more money than you can when working for someone else. – Be the boss and make the business decisions. – Job security. – Put your ideas into practice. – Learn about and participate in every aspect of a business. – Gain experience in a variety of disciplines. – Work directly with customers. – Benefit the local economy. – Personal satisfaction of creating and running a successful business. – Work in a field or area that you enjoy. – Build real retirement value. – Put down roots in a community.
* Cons: – May have to take a large financial risk. – Work long hours and may have fewer opportunities to take vacations. – Spend a lot of your time attending to the details of running a business. – Income is not steady. – Undertake tasks you find unpleasant. – Learn many new disciplines.
If you haven’t closed this article yet, our primary focus is on the business you can operate from your home. The benefits of working at home not only outweigh the cons, but, in most cases, completely cancel the negative aspects of running a small business.
* Pros: – Startup costs will be lower. – Operating costs will be lower. – Commute will be shorter. – Live anywhere and still operate your business. – Flexible schedule since your business can be conducted at your convenience.
* Cons: – More vulnerable to interruptions from family members and neighbors. – May have trouble attracting qualified employees. – May be less accessible to suppliers. – May have an image problem. – May run out of space at home if your business grows.
— Making It Happen —
Actually, once you make the decision, you are already making it happen. I remember waiting for years deciding whether I wanted to take the leap. But, one thing I found was that I could come up with a hundred reasons why I shouldn’t take the leap, and only a few reasons why I should.
I always worked in the ivory tower of corporations and I always worked to climb the ladder. As I went up the ladder, I missed having my hands in the middle of the work. I wanted to do the work, not watch the work happen around me.
My mind was racing and playing tricks. I liked the steady trickle of money from my full-time job because I knew that if something happened, my wife would be okay. I knew that I would have a job for years to come and I would never have to go on another interview.
On the other side, I knew that I could make more money if I went to work for myself. I knew that I would have to find work and try to keep it and I would always be interviewing for new work.
I did some self-analysis to determine what my real problems were that contributed to my indecision. Stay or go. Do or don’t. After some thought and realization, I concluded that I was scared. I was scared to death to take the chance at success. Many of the people that go to a psychiatrist’s office are not failures—they are successes. People have an inherent fear of success. It is easier to wallow in sameness and security than it is to make a change to set yourself up for success.
The way I handled my fear was to start jotting down what I thought was success. I made a long list of the things that I thought would put me in a position of being successful—by my own standards. Money, home, high-paying job, writing more books, and numerous other items. The problem was that I was not specific in my success list, which left me just as confused and scared as before. So, I sat down and rewrote the list, this time, being more specific:
– $250,000 per year – working in a creative position where I could write and develop ideas and direction – write and publish 10 books this year covering predefined topics – write and self-publish two books this year covering predefined topics – …
This is something I could work with. Now I can sit down and create the steps required to achieve each item. But, do you notice the inconsistencies in the list? You can’t write creatively and develop your own ideas, write books, make that amount of money, and work for someone else. This list helped me decide, conclusively, that I had to make it happen for myself. These goals were ones that I decided would make me happy and this was what I had to do.
Edward B. Toupin is a published author, technical writer, web developer, coach, and producer living in “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” Las Vegas, NV. One of his primary objectives in his work is to provide information to help others achieve fulfilling lives. Visit his site at http://encouragement.netfirms.com and http://www.toupin.com or contact him at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.