I find that most people want to eventually become self-employed. As a self-employed coach, I can totally understand this and I encourage it. Self-employment is not always rainbows and butterflies, but the associated freedom, flexibility and status are often highly rewarding.
This being said, many people are afraid of making a transition from employee to self-employed, and I find this has a lot to do with going into a new territory and not having a map to help them navigate in it.
In my communication coaching, I often work with such people and I help them build an effective transition strategy.
In this article, I’m going to share with you some of the most important steps such strategies encompass:-
1. Build Your Foundation of Learning
Once you’ve decided that you want to become self-employed, chances are that you’re still one or two years away from actually making that move.
Just like you need to build a solid foundation before you raise a house, you also need to build a solid foundation before offering your services as a freelancer.
In this foundation building time, the first thing to focus on is learning.
You want a good amount of experience and practical knowledge under your belt and to become a true professional in your career field. I often say that you may be able to cover up a certain lack of skill as an employee, but not as a freelancer.
2. Build Your Network
Your time as an employee is also a good time to meet new people and build your professional network. Thus, when you do go solo, you have a solid base of contacts you can use to start getting clients and business.
I know people who had a considerable profit in their very first year being self-employed and they’ve managed to do so because they started building relationships with potential clients early on.
So when they did go solo, they immediately began making good money.
3. Focus on Your Branding
Whatever field you’re going into as a freelancer, you probably have a lot of competition. If you want to beat your competition, in my experience it’s best to consider not only your expertise, but also the way you brand yourself.
Your branding is critical
Two things are important here: one is to pick a niche, preferably one that’s not very crowded and you’re passionate about.
The second is to make all your communication (both online and offline) clear, simple and consistent. It’s the only way to stick in peoples’ minds.
4. Get Ready To Push Yourself
Even if some people have a lot of success as freelancers from the get go, it is more likely to have a slow start. This means that at first you won’t have a lot of clients or a lot of work and you may get discouraged.
I can’t tell you how important it is to anticipate such moments and plan ahead in order to manage them well.
You will most certainly need to know how to combat black and white thinking, how to gain confidence and how to motivate yourself to keep going.
You may also go through a period with a significantly lower income than the one you had as an employee and with a lower credibility, since the brand of your employer is no longer supporting you.
The people who are able to pull through this period and become successful are those who can make calculated compromises.
Usually, the first few years being self-employed are the hardest.
Work hard in these years, be willing to acknowledge the real results you’re getting and to adapt your strategies, and you’ll reach a point where your work seems to almost flourish on its own.
So now over to you.
What’s your dream job working for yourself?
What steps will you take from today to being to make it happen?
This is a guest post from Eduard Ezeanu is a communication coach who teaches people how to make small talk and helps them put their best foot forward in communication.
Image courtesy of Orin Zebest
I think there are different strategies and paths for different people who wish to be self employed, but learning as much as possible and preparing are definitely things all people should strive for in the initial stages. It’s bad to just jump into self employment and quit the day job w/o a solid foundation of what you want to do, what you want to be, and what you want to accomplish.
In my perspective, there is no exact transition strategy that works for all, but there are broader guidelines that do. And all strategies do have one thing in common: using your head first and acting in a determined manner second.
Great advice Eddy!
Your tips are very practical and down to earth. I especially think it’s realistic to think that you’re probably not going to be able to support yourself for the first two years. The thing I don’t understand it about “niches.” How can we pick a niche – shouldn’t be following our passion? I always get confused about that. I had another blog 3 years ago about finance and I got bored with it because, while I know a ton about it, I’m not passionate about it. Can you explain in more detail what you mean?
I always encourage my clients to find the common territory between what they’re passionate about and what they’re good at. Sometimes passions and strengths overlap a lot, sometimes we’re not that lucky. Whatever the case, I think that we have the most power when our strengths meet our passions in what we do.
Very interesting points! I have just moved from the role of an employee to a self employed entrepreneur. I have either experienced, or am in the process of experiencing most of the things you mention.
I find that insecurity, uncertainty and self doubt are very peculiar. While they make me uncomfortable, they are also adding thrill and adventure to my journey. I won’t exchange them for anything 🙂
Congrats! You know that saying: the night is darkest just before the dawn. That’s kind of how it goes with this career transition as well.
Really well written Eduard, I believe if you do something that mentally stimulates you, you will do it to the best of your ability.
In my view, stimulation leads to performance, and many people lack performance because their jobs don’t excite them.
Stirring stuff Eduard and sensibly sound too. I personally have never forgotten the adage that if you work at what you love the work you do will love you. And that’s a real dream come true. Here’s to yours and everyone elses.
So sagely put John 😉
You’re quite the inspirational writer Eduard! Nicely written.
A dream job wouldn’t be a dream job if it didn’t feel right within us. If we look at what we’re doing, and we can’t see ourselves fulfilled and happy in the same role in the next 20 years, then we need another job.