More than 10 million people in the United States are self-employed business owners who have the privilege of working for themselves, setting their own hours and being their own boss. To many, being self-employed would be a dream come true. Making it happen, though, is a whole different story. I can say first-hand that working for yourself is possible and in fact, it’s not as hard as one would think.
WE’RE BUSY, WE WORK WEEKENDS AND WORK IS CONSTANTLY ON BOTH OF OUR MINDS, BUT WE LOVE IT.
Both my husband and I have been treading the waters of self-employment for years now (him 10 years, me 3 years). We’re busy, we work weekends and work is constantly on both of our minds, but we love it. We’ve pursued our passions and are doing what we love. Hopefully, this hard work will pay off and we’ll experience early retirement on an off-the-map beach somewhere.
Ahhh, living the dream.
If you’ve just recently begun thinking about starting your own business, you’ve come to the right place. Here, I’m sharing 5 ways you can get your business up and running, regardless of the business and regardless of your time frame. Both my husband and I used these methods and hopefully you will find some value in them, too.
1. Handle all the logistics. In other words, come up with a business name, get a business license and see what the requirements are to run your type of business in your state. My husband runs a painting and handyman business here in North Carolina. We had to register his business name with the state and get him licensed in the city he was going to be working in. We also got him business insurance, a work truck and the necessary tools to get started. Depending on your type of business, there will be certain things you need to purchase and paperwork that needs to be completed. Handle all of this as soon as possible so you can begin focusing on your actual business.
2. Lay out your goals. Are you planning on jumping right in full-time or wanting to start out slow? If you are jumping in full-time, make sure you have enough money saved to pay for living expenses while you’re getting started. Personally, I recommend at least six months of savings, but this will vary depending on how soon you expect to start making a profit. Write down where you see your business one month from now, six months from now, one year from now and five years from now.
3. Start some creative advertising. Whether you’re selling a product or offering a service, you need to get the word out that you’re accepting clients. If you’re offering a service, Craigslist can actually be a great place to start, and it’s free! You should also develop a presence online via social media (also free). You can start a blog, set up a business Facebook page, a business Twitter account and more. If used correctly, social media is one of the most powerful tools to grow your business.
4. Make a plan for every day. Running your own business requires you to wear multiple hats. In my freelance writing business, for example, I’m the writer, the advertiser, the promoter, the accountant and more. No one is forcing me to write every day, so I need to motivate myself and make sure I stay on track. I create a general to-do list for the week and then a specific one for each day. This ensures I get all my tasks completed so I can continue to grow my business versus letting it fall to the wayside.
5. Focus on customers. There is really no better way to grow your business than by word-of-mouth advertising. Form relationships with your customers and provide the best customer service that you can. One of the best ways to do this is to keep the customer or client in the loop. If my husband is running behind on a project, the customer is well aware and kept up-to-date on the estimated time of completion. He’s received dozens of referral customers due to not only the fact that he’s good at what he does, but also because he communicates regularly!
Whether you’re looking to open a brick-and-mortar store, run a business online or provide a service to people, starting a business takes hard work, dedication and focus every day. While there are millions of different businesses to start and thousands of ways to go about it, the most successful people are the ones that are the most dedicated, plain and simple.