L Bee Note: Now that I work for myself full time, I'm learning something new each day. Still, there are a few things I wish I knew before I got started, so today I’m sharing 4 important things to know when starting a small business inspired by the Office Depot Business Solutions Center. This is part of a sponsored post series I'm doing with Socialstars. Want to join in the fun? Use the hashtag #GearLove.
Starting Your Own Business: It's Difficult to Work From Home
Before I went full time for my own business, I was lucky enough to work for a company that allowed a few “work from home” days here and there. It felt like a fun treat, doing laundry in between the work I needed to get done for the next day. I actually got more done working from home in those days than I did in the office because I didn't have the typical office distractions.
But when I started exclusively working from home I struggled with productivity. (I like this post on ways you're inadvertently killing productivity on Office Depot Business Solutions Center.) Even still I sometimes feel incredibly distracted and a little lost. This is why it is important to set up a dedicated office space. It took me a few weeks to get everything set up (including new furniture and a new laptop computer), but now I'm working from home in a much more efficient way!
How Important It Is to Create Structure In Your Day
An outside office wasn't the only thing I lost when I left to work for myself. I also lost a good amount of structure and routine to my day which also helped with my productivity. In addition to a dedicated office space, I had to create to set a concrete schedule for when I work, new ways to track my hours for my clients, and become better at scheduling time for myself to do invoicing, filing, and pitching for new work so it doesn't interfere with the items I need to in a day to keep up with my clients.
Some days are crazier than others, and working for myself allows for increased flexibility to do the fun things I want to do or accommodate client requests. Still, to help stay on track I try to adhere to the following schedule:
- Work Hours from 7-9:30 AM, and 1-6:30 p.m.
- I do invoicing on Fridays and I try to email/pitch new clients on Wednesday mornings because my coaching sessions typically fall on Wednesday afternoons.
Take Yourself Seriously and Others Will Too!
I never believed in the expression “Fake It Till You Make It” more than when I started my own small business. If you take yourself, your business, and what you're doing seriously, then others will too! Part of “faking it” includes having work agreements for clients, clear policies for how you'd like to get paid and handle client issues, a solid business plan (I like the step-by-step tutorial on the Office Depot Small Business Solutions Center site, here) and a website with business cards.
I was timid at first, partly out of my own uncertainty about how working for myself was going to work out, but acting confident in my business has helped me to replace my full-time income from my old job in less than four weeks.
There Will Be Moments When You Have to Assert Yourself
Nothing prepared me for how often I was going to have to assert myself as a small business owner. When you're a side hustler, the pressure is off and work arrangements are a bit more casual. Now that all of the onus is on me to wow clients, bring in the money, and ensure I have enough work coming in to pay my bills, there have been a handful of moments where I've had to stand up for myself. My old boss used to handle the difficult conversations; now that I'm the boss, I have to handle those as well.
Whether it is calling a client who hasn't paid, not letting potential clients negotiate my rates with me, or learning how to “say no,” when someone begs for a last minute turnaround, I'm growing a little bit more backbone every day!
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