Running your own business is a massive accomplishment and something you should be proud of! (Pat yourself on the back for sticking it out!) Everyone likely looks at you with envy and says, “Man, you’re lucky!”. But, as a business owner and someone who is self-employed, sometimes you definitely don’t feel like the lucky one.
Whether you’re running your start-up from your home, have a small business with a few other people in a cramped office, work as a freelance writer in a coffee shop, or do consulting out of the back of your mobile office – it can be tough! There are many pros and cons to being self-employed, and I wanted to share some of my own struggles and how I power through them.
Working alone can get, well… lonely
If you’re a business owner that works mostly remote, either out of your home or in a coffee shop, sometimes you go all day without actually speaking to another human being (not counting your favourite Starbucks barista! "What up Sarah!").
A global study done by Regus, a workplace provider, found that 37% of Canadian home-workers say they feel lonely working on their own, with 65% saying they actually miss mingling with other professionals. If you’re one of these people, know you’re not alone! Ironic, I know.
One way to overcome this hurdle is by making an effort to get out of the house. GET OUT. Go to a Meetup, rent a shared work space in an open-concept office, or find a buddy who also works from home and partner up to work together. Going stir-crazy in your own home or sitting in your favorite coffee shop for hours on end won’t be good for your mental well-being or for your business. If you have employees, ask them to come in once a week to meet with you or biweekly and cycle through seeing them for real face time from time to time. It will benefit everyone. Maybe take them to lunch one at a time and chat about stuff that is not business related.
Separation from clients
Working remotely can often mean you don’t work face to face with clients. These days, leads come in via email and social media, and some business can almost solely be completed via email and phone calls. Gone are the days where hand shaking and meetings closed a deal....or is it?!
Meeting with clients is the best way to build lasting relationships. Don’t underestimate the value of creating a relationship with your clients or customers. If you have someone you’ve been working with for a while, take them out to lunch (on you) and make them feel appreciated. They’re the ones that pay the bills, remember. Plus, it’s a great way for you to touch base and talk about their needs, desires, and have a strong conversation about your future together. And, as mentioned before, it gets you out of the house!
The “No Boss” productivity debacle
When you’re your own boss, you really only have to answer to yourself. Many people either say they work way too hard or don’t work hard enough. It can go both ways, depending on the type of work you do and how well you work alone.
If you’re one of those people who can’t stop working, it’s important to set work hours for yourself. Seriously. Give yourself a 9-5 or 11-8 type schedule and STICK TO IT. Take an hour for lunch, stare at the wall, go for a walk, and disconnect. Give yourself two to three weeks of vacation time and mark off how much you’ve taken. You’ve got to take care of yourself; burnout is all too real for us entrepreneurs.
Now, if you’re one of those people who struggle to stay on track, it’s important to set goals and keep yourself accountable. Lists are your best friend and scheduling your time will go a long way. Learn what will work best for your work style and play to that.
At the end of the day, working for yourself can be a great gift and be a ton of fun! Every job has pain points and working through them is all we can do to stay focused and on track. Do the stuff you love and delegate the rest!