How I Break My Own Self-Employment Rules (And Why It Works)

Perhaps you've read my article, Ten Tips For Entrepreneurial Success. I wrote this article before I became self-employed. While I still think that all of my tips are valid, I've learned that not all tips apply to all people. Here are the rules I consciously break and why.

1. Set work hours and stick to them.
I sort of do this, but not exactly. When I started working from home, my plan was to get up at 9:00 a.m., work out, shower, and then work from 10:00-6:00. Well, it turns out that rigid work hours are one of the things I didn't like about working for someone else, and I quickly realized that it didn't make any sense to impose them on myself. Even though I had been getting up at 6:30 every morning and thought sleeping until 9:00 would seem like heaven, no matter how you slice it, I'm just not a morning person. So I don't fight it. I almost never set an alarm. Some of my most productive working hours are late at night, so I stay up late and wake up when I wake up. I've remembered why I used to keep a similar schedule in college. One semester I arranged my schedule so that my earliest class was at 1:00. Fortunately, being a writer does not require me to interact with clients at specific times of day. It just requires me to turn in my work by the deadline.

2. Hire help if you can afford it. Assuming I get to the point where I could afford to hire an employee, I doubt I ever would. I don't trust anyone as much as I trust myself, I like working alone, and I hate taking chances with my money, so even if it might make more financial sense at some point for me to turn activities like tax paying and invoicing over to an employee, I expect I'll keep doing it myself.

3. Make sure you get paid in full and on time. In some businesses, it may be possible to tack on interest charges for clients who pay late, but my current line of employment not only doesn't work that way, it doesn't pay on time. I have learned to compensate for this, however. If a client tends to take 30 days to pay, I just count any work that I do in May for that client as June income. It is very rare that I get paid for an assignment in the same month I complete it. This ends up not being such a terrible thing, though, as it forces me to plan in advance and always be considering where my future income will come from and not focus exclusively on the projects with the most urgent deadlines. It's also nice to know on June 1 that I already have enough money to cover the month's expenses.

I really follow the rest of my rules. I minimize expenses, I am reasonably picky about who I will work for and what types of assignments I will consider, I consciously consider how my interactions with clients will affect their future behavior and expectations, I err on the side of asking too many questions, and I advertise through my website, my email signature, cross-linking, and business cards. As the old saying goes, though, some rules were meant to be broken, and I'm a firm believer in adjusting the rules to meet your own situation and needs.

Photo by absolutwade

Related Posts:
Ten Tips for Entrepreneurial Success
Self-Employed Financial Surprises
Self-Employment Myths

1 comment:

Rob said...

I absolutely agree about breaking #2 - the hire help rule. Sometimes adding another person just gets in the way and is more inefficient than efficient. It takes a long time to find the right person - someone who adds more value to the enterprise than they take out in salary. When you find that person though, it'll be well worth it.