Can You Make a Living at Self-Employment?

So many people claim that they wish they could work for themselves. I think most times they would like an alternative to their job – but that’s not necessarily the best start on the road to self-employment. Then there are those who definitely should be in business for themselves, who long to show up bigger, serve more and thrive yet worry that this might all be just a wild day-dream that could not possibly come true for them!

The fears surrounding being self-employed are real. Many self-employed individuals share stories of struggle, even after a couple of years. When they first started the focus was on eventually having some room to breathe and to stop worrying about the next surprise expense. Of course they fully expected that the first couple of years would be challenging but they certainly didn’t plan on this going on indefinitely. So today, many self-employed individuals find themselves barely making enough to cover their expenses. They are doing what they love and some money is following them but this almost always seems never to be enough.

So what’s the missing link? Weren’t we told that if we simply work hard that we would succeed?  Caterina Fake – co-founder of Hunch and Flickr says in a post titled “Working Hard is overrated”

“I’ve seen a lot of hard working entrepreneurs fail, and I’ve come to the conclusion that working hard, while never a bad thing, is not really the magic thing that leads to great inventions or successful outcomes. Edison, of the “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” quote, tried thousands of materials looking for the right filament for the electric bulb. That might have been hard work, and the fact that he persisted through many failures is key to making something work, but he was also working on the right problem. So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.”

Are you self-employed and struggling? Working for yourself takes a lot of mental, physical and emotional stamina. Back when you were employed you worked with others, had people to bounce ideas off of, and got exposed to the occasional motivational event. Now you’re your own source of motivation, inspiration and guidance and this is VERY difficult to do while worrying about money. For some negative money issues send them into a frenzy trying various ‘make money now’ tactics that generally don’t work while others simply freeze.

 If you’re at this point you need to first accept that what got you here won’t carry you any further.  You need to go back to the drawing board and consider why you started what you did? What limitations did you see existing that you felt you could help change? Where are people not seeing something that is obvious to you but not to them and could change their lives for the better?

When you have your initial vision again clearly in mind, then set a specific goal and break that down into projects and break those projects down further into high value activities you need to take to reach your goal. It is important that you keep focused on these activities making sure to do at least one a day. This is NOT about a lengthy to-do list; it is about making and keeping commitments to yourself. You build confidence in your ability to succeed at self-employment when you list high value actions you will take and then take them.

Much more important than working hard, is knowing how to find the right thing to work on. Start paying attention to what is going on in the world. Take a step back from what you’re doing and see if any patterns emerge. Begin seeing things as they are rather than how you want them to be. And begin to understand not just how to grow your business but how to harness the boost that you need to get past the hump that you’re presently behind.

Once past this stuck stage, life on the other side will be completely different. You will be steering your business and not pushing it. You will make more insightful and more effective choices and most of all you will have the confidence and know-how to do more of what you love in a more profitable way.

Making a living at self-employment is possible. You just have to have the right focus and mindset to get you past the hump!

One thought on “Can You Make a Living at Self-Employment?

  1. Dera Giselle,
    We were all indoctrinated with an old work ethic that was geared to make us ‘good’ or ‘satisfied’ workers who work (stay?) at the same work place in organisations that never change, in economies that also do not change much, while we look forward to retirement and pension.
    Those economic conditions no longer exist.
    We need to rethink. The first thought has to be ‘starting and operating a successful business’ and not being self-employed.
    Employed by whom? Can you really employ YOU?

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