12 Lessons from 12 Months in Self-employment
Updated: Jul 27
I am one year into "going it alone".
Here are my 12 lessons from 12 months in self-employment.
Wow, there is lots of selling involved. In fact, it is the main thing. You have to articulate your value and convince others to invest in you. In the applied setting, we're expected to keep quiet about what we do to the outside world, so this is very different.
Learning to sell is a skill that can take time and experience. Everyone wants to "talk shop" but for you, that is a business conversation. Plus, it's not just the conversations but also emails, social media etc. All communication must be intentional.
3/ YOUR MARKET
It is natural to want to appeal to all people with every service. In reality, you just need to find "your market". Establish the people you can help the most and create insights for them.
Tip: Read Oversubscribed
4/ FOLLOW UP
I envisaged a killer conversation or presentation that immediately seals the deal. In reality, it takes multiple follow-ups and nudging. Often relationships need maintaining over the long-term before they might provide business.
People will go quiet on you. Humans seem to have evolved to avoid saying "no" to others directly. In fact, a no is more helpful than an unnecessary maybe. Ghosting happens in the business world too.
6/ LET DOWN
People will let you down. They'll say yes when in reality it is not. Time is spent on proposals or in preparation for work that does not materialise. Remember the demands of the applied world - you are not at the forefront of their minds. Frustrating but forgivable.
One of the most appealing prospect is variety in my projects. I consult to pro teams, mentor students around the world, conduct research for governing bodies, help develop women's sport internationally, & advise start-up tech companies. Variety is the spice of life!
Being self-employed, you create your schedule. Guilt & pressure can make you want to be available for clients at all times. As your own boss, only you can set and stick to your own boundaries.
Tip: Try Calendly
I am an External Teammate for Sports Performance. But I quickly realised I too needed an External Teammate for consultancy. My coach, Gwen Byrom, has been a priceless investment as a sounding board for this journey.
Tip: Speak to Gwen: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gwen-byrom-43971513/
This is even more important when in the isolating world of self-employment. Thanks to so many friends & peers in the industry, esp @Coach_WillG @DawnScott06 @paulboanas @Blake_Mc_ @SportsmithHQ @christombs71 @lorenatorres07 @JonnyBloomfield @ivicasagrande & many more.
There are different admin requirements being self-employed. Like anything new, it can be overwhelming. Contracts, proposals, invoices, income vs expenditure, limited company vs sole trader, websites, emails etc. Speak with others for help and advice.
Self-employment is difficult. There are challenges I expected and many others I did not. For me, it was the right decision at the right time. A different lifestyle with the opportunity to grow in new ways. Perhaps this time next year I'll have 12 new lessons!
To find out more about me and how I support teams and practitioners as their External Teammate, check out my website.
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