What Skills are Needed to Succeed with Self-Employment?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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