As more and more of us are tempted by the lure of working for ourselves and with ‘plug-and-play’ technology the reality is you no longer need huge piles of cash to start a business. According to the Harvard Business Review the number of self-employed will rise to 23 million in 2017.
I was never lured by the corner cubicle and only flirted with the idea of leaning in for a fleeting moment. Once I’d made the leap to work for myself not for one second have I been tempted to go back to being an employee. I’m officially and happily unemployable. However, the reality of self-employment has been an emotional rollercoaster ride of stress, self-doubt and sleepless nights.
Working for myself has been the equivalent of being in therapy – in a good way. Its forced me to look at and work on myself from every perceivable angle. By far the biggest lessons came from the mistakes and hiccups along the way.
Taking rejection personally
The reality is at the beginning you will get more no’s and less yes’s. One that sticks out was a verbal ‘yes’ from a major TV channel to pilot one of my workshops. I remember leaving their offices feeling elated and texting or calling just about everyone I knew by the time I’d reached the tube station. Despite chasing up for several weeks it came to nothing, I was crushed for months. Only to find out that the person who had said yes had resigned a few weeks later and had made me a promise they couldn’t deliver on.
A ‘no’ can happen for all sorts of reasons. Today I just treat it as feedback and either tweak my offering or just move on very quickly. If someone unsubscribes from my newsletter that’s good it means they are not the right audience for me but it also means that the other 99% who don’t unsubscribe are interested and vested in hearing from me.
According to Nicola Mendelsohn Facebook’s VP for Europe ‘Done is better than perfect”. I couldn’t agree more. The sweeping blitz of social media is a huge opportunity to build your business. The biggest challenge I’ve had is waiting to post and share things until everything looked perfect. The perfect tweet, Instagram picture, blog, Snapchat, Facebook etc. This for a long time translated into nothing happening at all.
Taking the plunge has meant saying no to all-round perfection and being very selective and focusing. With social media I just focus on two or three channels and have a system. On Facebook rather than create a fresh new perfect post each time I’ve created a process. I use the same graphics and headings every week such as Monday Motivation, Soulful Sunday, Shout Out Friday and vary the content each time.
But most crucially for me perfection isn’t just about the perfect image but the values and message behind what I am expressing with my audience. To quote Paul Klee “One eye sees, the other feels”.
It is so easy to feel things are moving too slowly because they always do. I have a love hate relationship with my impatient side. My love for being impatient means that I make things happen quickly and get on with it. The down side is when things happen too slowly which they always do and then the anxiety and stress kicks in. Especially when you look around and have that FOMO (fear on missing out) feeling too. Who knows how long someone has been working away to get to there? And it’s a complete waste of energy to compare yourself to others anyway. One way to keep this in check is to compare where you were a year ago, six months ago and three months ago and then celebrate your progress and the small wins.
Feeling isolated and not sharing
Working for yourself can soon become a lonely experience. I know to my detriment I can so easily become absorbed with working on my business that I start refusing all invitations, going to the gym and even meeting friends. Not great as I’m a bit extrovert (ish) and then end up feeling alone and disconnected.
My saviour has been having a ‘tribe’ or groups that I trust and feel connected with that serves more than one purpose. This has really worked for me and has been life changing. The community is a great place to dip in with the banter, learn from each other and share wins.
As I have little time to network I’ve initially focused on building relationships online before meeting up. Another online community to support others who are in the same boat is ‘The Next Chapter Work and Life Hub’.
Not working on raising your profile and missing out on opportunities
It’s taken years for me to put my name in front of my business. Waiting for the right time to do it; until the book is written, the perfect website, more testimonials, landing the celebrity endorsement? A huge mistake to not have done this years ago.
Rather than wait for those perfect moments you have to create them by just doing it. It will never be a perfect time to pitch an idea, speak at an event or make a high profile connection with a thought leader. Instead priortise what you stand for, who your audience is and your ultimate visibility goal. Working on building an authentic personal brand is an ongoing process. Your personal brand isn’t just what people see but how you make them feel. It’s about your core values. To learn more take the 5 day Personal brand challenge.