5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Trying Self-Employment

Tips for Self- Employment

My business, On a Good Note Designs, turned one year old on October 31st. It started as a way to have something to do in the midst of a job search, but by the one year post-grad mark I was ready to break free from the emotional drain of seeing my resume rejected. I’m fortunate to have small business owner parents who encouraged me trying to carve my own path outside of the corporate world. Once I made the decision to try my business full-time in June, the intense stress and anxiety I’d felt since graduation melted away.

That doesn’t mean stress doesn’t still exist. Things are hard and I’m far from where I need to be, but I also know that they’re moving in the right direction. While I grew up in a household where self-employed was the norm, many have not had the chance to see the ups and downs that come with it. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you take the plunge:

1. Can you focus when no one is telling you what to do?
Time management is one of the biggest struggles of being self-employed. While it’s great there’s no boss telling you what to do, the flip side is there is NO ONE telling you what to do. Sometimes figuring out where to start is difficult, and with few assigned deadlines it’s easy to procrastinate. You have to be driven enough to get everything done, whether fulfilling a customer order or launching a marketing plan.

2. Can you be your own best salesman?
You have a great product or service, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t show it off. Figuring out how to be your own salesman is sometimes tricky, especially if you’re on the shy side like me. It’s easy to not want to be obnoxious by constantly talking about or showing off your product, but there’s a fine line between being conceited and being smart about promotion.

3. Are you okay being alone?
Working by myself is one of the worst aspects of starting a business. Sure, it’s great I can work in my pajamas until 4PM, but after a while you start to wish there was someone to talk about last night’s Parks & Recreation with on lunch break. If you haven’t been in the working world prior to starting your business, it can also take extra work to build a social circle.

4. Can you control your spending?
The saying you have to spend money to make money is true, and that first year is most likely going to fall into the spend category. While there are days I’d love to blow a lot of my money at Target (and I’m guilty of spending a little too much at times, but who isn’t in the wrath of Target?), there’s always something that needs to be purchased for the business and it’s your responsibility to do it.

5. Are you okay with risk?
Starting a business will always be risky. You don’t know if people will like you and your product or service, and there are always little failures along the way. Sometimes you buy packaging you think is the right size but isn’t or print 400 recipe cards with “kitchen” misspelled (yep, true stories). But the reward can also be greater–flexibility, no fighting for a promotion, doing exactly what you want–and in today’s world of corporate layoffs, no jobs are really safe. You just have to decide if everything is worth it for you.


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