Research shows that people who move successfully into self-employment are self-aware and are able to manage themselves in different situations. In other words they know what makes them tick and they know what to do to stay motivated and have a positive view of their business.
So you have a clear vision for self-employment and you have the talent and passion to turn that vision into reality. What other qualities will you require to be a success?
- Risk-tolerance. That doesn’t mean that self-employment is inherently risky; it just appears riskier. When you’re employed by someone else you’re only one economic downturn or personality conflict, or corporate restructuring away from unemployment. But you get on with the job and forget about the possibility, whereas in self-employment there’s always that uncertainty around where the next piece of work is coming from and how long it will take to win it.
- Willingness to accept new challenges. Not only as part of your move to self-employment, but as a permanent part of your new life. There’s less continuity of employment and income, and the constant challenge of the next hurdle, the next prospect, the next re-invention of your talents.
- Relationship-focused. Networking and relationship building is part and parcel of being self-employed. It’s not just an element in running your business; it’s one of the requisite skills to ensure success. If you don’t enjoy – yes, enjoy – networking, then your pipeline of work will be thinner and less healthy than it should be.
- Self-development has to become a constant element. The work you do to continually develop your knowledge and skills will determine your employability and how marketable your skills are. This is far easier if you get a kick out of your professional development rather than just tolerate it. Some great businesses have been built on finding a niche area of knowledge and establishing yourself as the niche guru.
- Influence. You must not only have marketable skills; you must be able to sell them. There are lots of sources of marketing advice available. If you have doubts about your selling abilities, you need to concentrate on developing your confidence in that area.
- You need lots of self. You must be self-starting, self-inspired, self-directed. When times are difficult and inspiration gets thin, the ability to bounce back and get out there again is vital.
- Multi-tasking is at the heart of self-employment. You have to enjoy working on several tasks/projects at once as well as doing all the things you need to do to run the business.
Finally, you need humour and perspective. You must retain your objectivity – and sanity – which can easily be distorted when you work alone. Humour helps you see the comic as well as the tragic in running the business.