Reviewing “The Self-Employment Survival Guide – Proven Strategies to Succeed as Your Own Boss” written by Jeanne Yocum.
In January I was working at a co-working space in Brisbane and a book on a shelf caught my eye: “The Self-Employment Survival Guide – Proven Strategies to Succeed as Your Own Boss” written by Jeanne Yocum. As the title indicates, this book is a really straightforward guide about how to run your own business. Some of the concepts I already discovered in my own experiences, but others changed my perspective.
In every chapter, Jeanne explains a strategy to cope with key self-employment challenges, along with 2 or 3 entrepreneurs’ opinions on the topic. She covers all the challenges of working as your own boss, including task scheduling, how to lead with customers, managing your finances and building your network. If you are already running your own business or are intending to start one, I would recommend that you take some time to read this book.
I selected 3 topics from her book that brought me new perspectives about how to be successful as my own boss:
1. Dealing with billable and non-billable hours is fundamental
One thing that I only realised when I was already working with a few customers was that I needed to keep my non-billable hours under control. For example, when a potential customer asks a quote about one of my services, I need to have in mind that the time that I spend on that won’t be billable. That also applies to network events that you attend and time that you spend managing your businesses finances too.
In her book, Jeanne suggests:
“A number in the 25 to 30-hour range in terms of billable hours is more achievable and sustainable over a long period of time. Never forget that you will be doing many hours of work that aren’t billable (bookkeeping, new business development, networking) so your week will be much longer than just 25 to 30 billable hours. “
Another aspect to consider is that if you set your hourly rate low or miscalculate the number of hours you will need to finish a job, you will need to work more and will not have time for activities that need to be done to keep your business alive. In the end, the bills won’t be paid and you will be in overload.
When you work for yourself, it’s good to have in mind that you will not have paid holidays or paid sick days like you would as a regular employee. These costs need to be included in your rates.
On the topic of money, the author mentions many times throughout the book how important it is to choose your customers well and keep your boundaries clear. A bad customer will cost you money, time and even health. For those clients that don’t pay on time, include in the contract a late payment term with a fee, for example.
2. Homeoffice requires more discipline than working a regular job
When people say that they work from home, there’s a common perception that they have a lot of freedom. It’s true, but it isn’t always a good thing. Dealing with distractions, especially at home, is a challenge. As the author mentions in the book, instead of doing your billable hours, you can find yourself washing dishes, taking care of kids or chatting with friends. The possibility of distractions is endless.
To help me concentrate on a task when I’m working from home office (or boat office, on my case), I’ve developed some techniques:
- Put my phone in airplane mode;
- Define the tasks that I’ll do on that day and stick to it;
- Don’t work in pyjamas or from my bedroom;
- Track my time (I use Toggl App) and reward myself with little breaks after finishing a task.
3. Being a solo-entrepreneur can be a lonely journey
During the period that I have been working as a freelancer content producer, I’ve had to be the sole decision-maker. At the beginning it sounded exciting but along the way, I realised that it is a lonely road. Especially because I deal with my customers over the internet and very rarely meet them in person.
I’m the type of person that likes to have a brainstorming session with my work mates or get their feedback about something.That is why I decided to get a job in a Marketing Agency located on the Gold Coast and reduce my freelance work.
In the book, the author suggests some strategies for combating loneliness, such as working at a co-working space or in a cafe. Another option is to build more human interaction into your day, like having dinner with a friend or practicing team sports.