The Press is howling about the huge increase in self employment and are trying to suggest that this is in some way an undesirable situation. One article even suggested that the self employed secretly craved the security of a ‘proper job’. Well take it from me, they are so wrong!
While I was researching material for my new book on self employment, Self Made Me, I realized that in the world we are in, traditional employment is a very perilous place to be. As huge retailers go to the wall and lay off thousands of staff – and even successful manufacturers move production off shore to the detriment of their home workforce, the truth is that self employment is the only secure employment. A simple question to ask yourself to prove this, is, when you are self employed will you ever fire yourself? If you are self employed you will never be unemployed (skint maybe but never unemployed!) Self employment should inevitably bring happiness and financial security, so why and how do people fail? The answer is simple – because they make simple mistakes or simple misjudgments.
In Self Made Me, I have used my experience of self employment and of having made every conceivable cock-up imaginable myself, to address the pitfalls. In the book I have pulled no punches and have been as tough as I dare, but I hope that it is an iron-clad recipe for success. Each chapter ends with dozens of simple tips which should be easy and useful. Here are a few sample ones and if they help you, remember the book is full of ‘em!
1) When planning your enterprise make sure that you have enough financial support to last for as long as possible. If the sums don’t add up don’t take the risk, or perhaps set your sights a little lower
2) All the little luxuries and unnecessary equipment are like putting rocks in your pocket when you go swimming; customers and income first, treats later. Remember, finding and keeping customers is the only activity that generates revenue; everything else involves us in cost
3) Don’t be a consultant, be an expert. What is it that you know that your customer doesn’t and can you be paid good money for it – even if it is how to fix their washing machine
4) Don’t be afraid to locate your enterprise in an area of similar enterprises; just make sure yours is the best
5) Your degree of professionalism sets your price in the customer’s mind and a lack of it creates fear. Good design and presentation may be expensive but it can be money well spent. Remember that being the cheapest is not a guaranteed way to make a customer choose you. Being cheap doesn’t mean you are offering good value
6) If the work or business isn’t coming to you either give up now or go right out and get it – those are the only two choices you have
7) It’s very hard to get the truth about your ideas and you need to get an honest appraisal so get out on the street and pretend to be an independent market researcher to get some real honesty. When choosing your enterprise, don’t guess the need, prove the need
8) Just smiling and being nice can double your income; you can’t have a day off from giving faultlessly brilliant and friendly service so put on a show
9) A potential customer is a rare treasure, so don’t forget to make money out of them by selling them something and then delight and thrill them so much that they will want to come back to you again and again. Don’t market yourself out until you are ready to delight – you don’t want to spend money showing people how bad you can be
10) Self employment can set you free to enjoy being a square peg! Just stay away from round holes
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