So this week is exactly one month since I took the leap into working for myself and the concept of Dave Furness Consulting was born. When I told people what I was going to do there were two distinct responses. They either thought I was mad leaving the security of working for someone else and having the steady income coming in every month, or they praised a brave decision but ultimately understood why I had to do it. As Matt quite rightly said to me, “Dave, It’s simple, you have the curse of the Entrepreneur and it’s something you have to do.” So a month in, I thought I would share 5 Home truths about working for yourself that I have found out about so far.
1. The First Day Doubt
This is the strangest thing to try to explain. Now you may be able to skip this one altogether if you had a cast iron plan set out. But truth be told I didn’t. I knew what I was going to do and I knew what I had to start doing to achieve it. The first day for me was really productive but the whole day I was double guessing myself, “Had I done the right thing”, “What if it doesn’t work” and thoughts along those lines. Over the past 5 years I had become somewhat institutionalized to the working/office/boss environment and now there was none of that. For me this doubt lasted a couple of days but like I said I had a good first few days and soon the doubt disappeared altogether. The point I am trying to make is, it was a total change to what I was used to and after making such a big decision doubt was sure to follow. My advice would be to use it to inspire yourself. Prove the doubters wrong and don’t give yourself the option to fail.
2. Productivity Boom
I am just going to come out and say it. The whole concept of the working day 9 to 5 is horrifically flawed. No-one can maintain focus for 8 hours a day, even with breaks and lunch breaks included. In the office you are also open to loads of distractions. You will get pulled from one job to another, have to deal with colleagues problems and also be distracted by general office noise and discussion. I feel that I am now at least twice as productive in my day than I ever could have been in an office environment. I prioritize my own work and am able to stick on task with minimal distractions. This was again strange to get used to for the first couple of weeks as I had loads of time which I was able to use to network and market myself. Being Time rich is a massive benefit, for the time being I hasten to add in working for yourself.
2.1 – Distractions of a different kind
A quick note however is that it is much easier to succumb to other distractions especially if your office is at home. All of the things that you usually associate with relaxing or doing when you get home from work, are now accessible to you all the time. It takes a lot of willpower when something isn’t quite going your way to give up and go and watch TV or turn on the PlayStation or Xbox. The best way for me to fight this is to set myself targets throughout the day, such as finish off a report for a customer, or finish a blog post such as this one before I allow myself any downtime.
Now this will not apply to everyone but it was certainly true for me. I find myself getting really stir crazy when I am stuck in the same environment for a long period of time. Which gets you down after a while. Doing what I do in terms of e-commerce / web consultancy all I really need to work is a computer / tablet and an internet connection. This means that if I fancy a change of scenery I can jump on a train into the city center, find a coffee shop with WiFi and my second office is set up. Likewise this week I will be travelling down to London. But during this time I will still be able to work as normal with no noticeable down time. This may not be a big thing for a lot of people, but for me I love the freedom this brings.
Perhaps the biggest downside I have experienced so far in terms of working for yourself is the uncertainty of the future. The lack of security that often working for someone else brings with it. I am in the perfect position to start working for myself, I have limited outgoings and responsibilities but there is still an uncertainty about the long-term future. What if you aren’t busy, and business dries up…so does any form of income. This ties in sort of with the 1st but it is a much more long-term issue. It is a constant burden to carry and one that a lot of people I know could not deal with.
5. The Be Your Own Boss Myth
Now being your own Boss is true to a certain extent you decide what needs doing, what hours you’re going to work where you’re going to work, your business strategy and budget etc. However what you need to remember is that every single one of your clients becomes your Boss. They are the ones paying you for a service or product and if you don’t provide it to an agreed standard then all of a sudden you will have lost their respect and the bad word of mouth can be devastating to a new business. People have said to me over the past 4 weeks things like “I wish I could be my own Boss”, “It must be great having no-one to tell you what to do” and whilst in some aspects they are right, the buck now stops with me. I force myself to remember that I actually now have more ‘Bosses’ than ever before and I have to keep them all happy in order to succeed.
What Have I Missed?
Like I mention above I am still incredibly new to this and whilst I have had a good first month and the next looks promising too, but this has been just the start of my journey down a long road. So I am appealing to other business owners of self-employed readers to let me know what have I missed in the home truths about working for yourself? Do you have a different opinion than mine above? If so then please let me know in the comments below. I look forward to reading them.