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Taking the Plunge - From Employee To Self-Employed

Two people shaking hands

Some people enjoy being employed by others, and there are many reasons behind it - from the regular wages to the perks and benefits. But others enjoy the freedom and challenge of being self-employed.

It can initially seem daunting for those looking to be their own boss and start their own business. What if there's no work to bring in money? What about bills? How should I deal with issues? How do I manage my time effectively? These are all important questions which, unfortunately, no one can give a definitive answer to. A lot comes from experience and good planning. So, what do you need to plan before you take the plunge?

Planning Your Time

How long does it take to build a website? How long would it take me to deliver goods from A to B? How long would it take me to cut this person's hair? Planning time can be tricky, especially if it's all new to you. The questions and answers vary depending on your industry, experience, and knowledge. The first few months will be very much guessing and hoping for the best until you learn how these things work out.

It can be even more tricky if you're not working in your business on a full-time basis - your time in the business is even more precious, and you need to use it wisely.

Think back to your school days; you probably had a timetable for your lessons, lunch, and any other breaks throughout the day. Having all of these laid out at the beginning of the term was a good way to manage your time between different 'tasks'. Some people find this time planning method useful enough to use it into adulthood - planning set tasks throughout the day and working in breaks between different tasks. If this method is right for you, start using a calendar and make it as detailed as possible, such as 9.30-10.00 check emails, 10.05-11.00 call clients, etc. Then comes the tricky part - stick to it.

However, remember to take time off too. If you fill your calendar with work tasks, leaving no room for yourself, you could quickly become burnt out. So remember, you have to make time for yourself too.

Be Open and Honest

People huddled around a meeting desk while talking

Discuss your situation with your current employer and see how you can work your new business around your job. You may find that your business could help your employer, and they may send work your way.

You may find that your employer would be behind you 100%; and may even recommend your business to people they know.

Research, Research, Research

Before taking the plunge, research your idea and potential market. A good starting place is to research:

  • The market: You need to be sure the market demands your products or services. You don't have a business without a customer base, so this is a key point. There's a useful guide on market research by Entrepreneur.
  • Business Names: Your business name defines your business, so you will need to choose something that not only stands out and is memorable, but also doesn't lead to confusion. Does your business name sound similar to another business? It would be a bad idea to call your business "Tesco Technology", for example. Not only could this be confused with the supermarket chain, but it may also lead to legal demands from them. There's a useful guide on business names on The Law Donut's web site
  • Competitors: To win customers, you need to prove that you are the right choice for them. Why are you better than the competition, and why should they choose you over them? Make sure you know your competition and what they offer. See how you can improve their services to give yourself a competitive advantage. Could they offer better customer service? Do they sell the wrong products? Are they too expensive?


Magnifying glass next to paper

When you thought about starting a business and going self-employed, you looked at several different things to make the plans you have in place. Don't be afraid to revisit these plans after a few weeks or months - there's nothing wrong with making small changes. Things may not go as well as you thought, so it's good to rethink some things and set out a new plan to keep things going.

Where now?

If you're ready to take the leap from employee to self-employed, then it's simple to start up. But remember to research and plan.

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