One of the first things you discover when you shift from being an employee to being self-employed, is that your time is no longer structured. All of the reminders and nudges you used to get from your boss and co-workers now come from your own mind as it races to keep track of the obligations you have inadvertently stacked up for yourself.
Your 45 hour week has somehow become 60-plus hour a week. You even find yourself waking up at 3 am, dragging yourself out of bed to write down lists of things to do and then sitting in front of the computer handling email until the sun comes up. Yes, you are in control of your time, but you must be careful what you wish for. As a self-employed person, you always live in interesting times.
In many work situations, your independent activity mainly consists of getting yourself up and into your car in time to make the commute to work. From the time you hit the highway until you are headed home, your time is often other-directed and you move in concert with many others in the same endless dance.
When you first leave corporate life, there is a giddy euphoria that can last for weeks as you experience the new freedom you have gained. This dies down as you realize the new obligations you have assumed for supporting yourself and your family.
Marketing, which once seemed a distant and esoteric activity practiced by others in the corporate hierarchy, now becomes a major focus of your life. If you are to be successfully self-employed, you need to find out what you can do that others are willing to pay for. That is marketing and you will become good at it or you will have to go back to being an employees again.
As you take root in your new and self-directed existence, you start developing new connections for business and pleasure. Networking, which may have been an awkward and difficult activity while you were part of the corporate machine, becomes as natural as breathing once you are on your own and dependent on new contacts for advice, for work, and for income opportunities.
So you start making yourself known and you establish opportunities for income and a trickle of work starts coming in. This encourages you to keep on marketing yourself in different ways as you find out what people are willing to pay for, as opposed to what they say they want.
Eventually, you establish a workable business proposition and the workload picks up and you are off working 60 hours a week just trying to keep up with demands.
Of course, just about now some of the other opportunities you were working on catch fire and you go into overdrive trying to keep up.
While you are juggling your workload, some of your projects end or the client runs out of money and you need to start networking and marketing yourself again.
If you keep at this for a while, you will develop a rhythm which works for you where you do some marketing every day and your promotional activities become second nature and you reserve time to get your work done and keep backlogs from occurring. You are taking on some of the major functions of a successful corporation.
You may still lack mastery of financial planning, accounting and tax procedures, but you may be able to outsource some of this so you can concentrate on what you do well.
If this all sounds too scary for you, keep your day job and use it to develop the skills you will need for self-employment.
You will probably find that most people who become self-employed would never consider returning to corporate life even though they may make less money on their own. The increased freedom and the ability to make their own decisions give them far more satisfaction than they enjoyed as employees.