The Transition From Employee to Self Employed

How I am trying to make working for myself work for me (and some of the most important lessons I have learned)
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Working for myself used to seem like a very distant dream. It was something I knew I would always do, but I never had any idea of how I would go about getting there. In recent times, I have started to see this dream come into fruition with a lot of new and exciting opportunities rearing their head. By no means would I consider myself to be 100% self employed at this point in time, but I am damn well on my way.

I was sitting down and thinking about all of the great opportunities that were coming my way, and trying to pinpoint the catalyst in the sudden influx of these leads. After much thought, it occurred to me that all of the doors that were opening weren’t because of a massive change in the market (there has been a slight shift but no massive change), but because of the shift in my own mentality. I had gone from a ‘how do I work for myself?’ mentality, to a ‘I need to make working for myself work for me’ mentality. That ever so slight shift in my thought process meant that I was now, whether I was fully aware or not, proactively seeking out opportunities and taking on board every little bit of information that I knew could help me in any way, shape, or form.

My interactions with people have changed, and I have a new air of confidence when I talk about what it is that I do for a living (I am in marketing and social media if you were wondering!). Telling people that you contract your marketing and design services out to a client in the hospitality industry instead of saying that you work some casual hours doing the marketing or design for a restaurant, makes all of the difference. So how did I go about changing my mentality and seeing my career from a different angle? Well, I am extremely lucky to have an amazing group of self-employed (and very successful) friends and acquaintances. The things I have learned from them, no matter how big or small, are invaluable. Having them mentor me and seeing their confidence in me grow (and that big grin when I excitedly babble about a new idea of mine) only fuels my fire more.

There have been ample hints and tips I have received from my friends, but there are a few poignant ones that I believe are fundamental to really making your dreams come to fruition. I am a self starter and therefore support other self starters whole heartedly… so these hints and tips are for you too.

1. Put yourself out there
I knew this one a long time ago (I always had a ‘what’s the worst they can say?’ attitude), but it has come into practice now more than ever. If you want something you have to chase it. There is no point in sitting and waiting for it to come to you because what if it never does? A lot of the time people don’t actually know what they want or require until it presents itself. I bet you nobody knew they needed an egg slicer until someone made one and put it on the market. The same goes for any business transaction. Ask people if they require your service, or pitch an idea to them – the worst they can say is no! More often than not, if you present yourself in a confident manner, there will be an opportunity arise from it. Which leads me to my next tip…

2. Be confident
It sounds so simple, and that is because it is… once you get the hang of it. Instead of thinking ‘will people actually pay me to walk their cats? They can get someone to do that for free’, make it common knowledge that hiring cat walkers is standard practice. Sure, you might get a whole heap of people choosing to leave it in the beginning, but if you stick to your guns, people will start to realise the value in paying you. Sure, people might be able to get someone/something to do the same job that you are trying to make work for you for free, but by exuding confidence in your product or skills you instil confidence in your work, in your prospective client.

3. Conversation is the most important tool
Conversation facilitates negotiation, learning, information dissemination and breaks down barriers. I wouldn’t be able to share these tips with you if I didn’t happily engage in conversation with new people. I have met some of the most amazing, knowledgable and helpful people by walking up to them in a bar and telling them that their hair is amazing. I have broken the ice by accidentally telling the owner of a brewing company (I didn’t know who he was from a bar of soap!) that the boys behind the bar kept slipping me freebies. Of course these menial conversations led to much bigger and better things. Confidence is key here, because it you a) have the confidence to strike up conversation with any one and every one b) aren’t afraid to talk proudly about the direction you are going with your career, you never know where this new connection could take you! I wouldn’t even call it networking (because I hate that word), it is putting yourself out there, in a confident manner!

How many of you are working for yourselves in some capacity? How do you motivate yourself and find new leads?
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