What Skills are Needed to Succeed with Self-Employment?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

As more people find themselves without jobs due to shifts in the economy, the number of people who choose to establish themselves as freelancers or home business owners is growing at a rapid pace. However, not everyone will be successful with an endeavor of this type. Choosing to start a small business and become one of the self-employed requires a few basic skills and talents in order to succeed. If you are currently considering the idea of self-employment, here are some points to consider.

Freelancers must have the self-discipline to work from home.
Freelancers must have the self-discipline to work from home.

People who work at home require a high level of self-discipline. There is potential for all sorts of distractions, such as putting off work in order to enjoy a long lunch with friends or watch something on television. In order to be successful with self-employment, it is imperative that you possess the ability to plan your work schedule and stick to it. Complete all your scheduled tasks for the work day and then enjoy some leisure time afterward.

Those who are self-employed and working from home must be prepared to handle tasks that are not directly in their line of expertise, such as invoicing and financial record-keeping.
Those who are self-employed and working from home must be prepared to handle tasks that are not directly in their line of expertise, such as invoicing and financial record-keeping.

People who are self-employed must be prepared to handle necessary tasks that are not directly in the line of their expertise. For example, a freelance professional just beginning to build a reputation will not have a lot of money to outsource tasks such as invoicing, handling Accounts Payable and Receivables, and calculating and paying income taxes. Self-employment requires the ability to not only focus on tasks related to providing goods or services to customers; they must also keep their financial records in order and up to date at all times.

People who are self-employed have to be careful to combat laziness that can hamper productivity.
People who are self-employed have to be careful to combat laziness that can hamper productivity.

Another important function in the world of self-employment is learning how to sell yourself to new clients. This is much more complicated than simply filling out a job application and having an interview with a personnel director. You must be prepared to convince prospects that you are the right person for the assignment, establish a working client/vendor relationship, and manage that relationship with competence. There is no customer service or sales department to handle these functions; they are your responsibility.

Self-employment may be tempting following a sudden layoff.
Self-employment may be tempting following a sudden layoff.

As any independent contractor or freelance professional knows, your home or small business is not going to begin turning a profit immediately in most cases. It will take time to build your foundation, secure clients, and become a profitable venture. In the interim, you must become adept at doing a great deal with very little. Developing creative ways to stretch your limited resources without giving prospective clients the idea you are operating on a shoestring budget is absolutely essential. From this perspective, that means your job skills must include that of being efficient with public relations efforts. Otherwise, your reputation will be undermined before you have a chance to build one.

An electrician may work as an independent contractor.
An electrician may work as an independent contractor.

It is important to realize it takes more than desire and good intentions to open a business and be successful. With self-employment, one must be able to function without supervision, complete commitments to clients on time, perform sales and public relations functions, keep your finances in order, and be creative when it comes to growing the business. If this seems overwhelming, then self-employment is probably not for you. However, if juggling all these different functions strikes you as something you can do and do well, start looking for opportunities that would allow you to work for yourself. It may be the smartest move you will ever make.

People who are self-employed have to be able to balance work commitments with their personal lives.
People who are self-employed have to be able to balance work commitments with their personal lives.
Selling cosmetics is a popular home-based business opportunity that allows people to be self-employed.
Selling cosmetics is a popular home-based business opportunity that allows people to be self-employed.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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