When you have been gainfully employed in a secure job for many years, thinking about becoming self-employed and losing the security that goes with a steady job, can be petrifying and often the first hurdle where many fall.
However, there has been a rapid growth of self-employment in the UK labour market in recent years. The number of self-employed increased from 3.2 million people (12.0% of the labour force) in 2000 to over 5 million (15.3% of the labour force) in 2019 according to the Office for National Statistics, so there must be something working for people right?
I personally find self-employment AMAZING! I love that I am the master of my own destiny, I can work flexibly around my children and my partner's (self-employed) business and although we aren't as financially secure as we previously were, but the universe has a funny way of delivering what we need when we need it; a few weeks ago I finished up working wtih 6 clients, all in one week! I will be honest, I was a little bit worried as that has never happened before, but funny enough, 6 new clients turned up in the following 3 weeks.
So how do you make the transition?
Well, as humans, we are naturally resistant to change, as it brings uncertainty and insecurity. Sometimes people often think ‘better the devil you know’ which keeps them stuck in a securely paid job, which can be a big execuse not to follow your dreams, so some thought and preparation are required.
Personally, I was gainfully corporately employed in an Investment Bank for 13 years before, making a slow transition to self-employment via consulting for a couple of years and the speed I did it at, definitely helped me to overcome my fear.
Here are my 10 top tips to help you make the leap to self employment smoothly:
1. Accept you will Feel Fearful and plan interventions to manage it – Who can you call for support when you have a wobble?
2. Surround yourself with Positive Supporters and stay away from naysayers who are risk adverse, and will focus on all the things that could go wrong, and never think about what could go right.
3. Use your Contacts – LinkedIn is a great resource. Don’t be scared to ask people for coffees and help -they are often flattered and more than happy to advise or help.
4. Do your Homework – speak to people who are already successfully doing what you want to and find out what the reality it like.
5. Write a Business Plan or Business Canvas and do some financial forecasting, then have someone who is business-minded review it. The business plan can be on the back of an envelope but you need to make sure you test your ideas somehow and carry out some market research (even if it's just with your friends).
6. Be Realistic - you probably won’t be successful overnight, so plan for a 2/3 year business build. Having a transition plan from the old job to the new business is a great idea.
7. Save some Money to support you through the transition and discuss your family finances and plan with your partner.
8. Learn about Marketing and Social Media - without customers and clients your business isn’t a business.
9. Ask for Help – you don’t need to do everything yourself. Websites, photographs, logos, promotional material all take time and often look more professional when done by a professional. Skill swaps are a great and cheap way to get help.
10. Keep Motivated and prepare yourself for wobbles – use tools (visual tools, visualisations, affirmations) and get support (business network or a business coach).
If you are really fearful, I can highly recommend the book 'Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway' by Susan Jeffers.
I wish you well on your exciting journey ahead