Ralph Coker of the Caller Times recently took some time to answer a new entrepreneur’s question about tips for being successful now that he is self-employed. There were five great tips, but a common theme united all of them: everything that once you let your boss do for you, you must now do yourself.
First: You must evaluate your own time and the revenue each project is generating or, in some cases cost-saving. As an employee, depending on your manager, you may (or may not) have had some say on where you believed your time was best allocated. But, at the end of the day, that responsibility lied with him or her. Now ensuring you spend your time wisely is solely your responsibility. You can’t just plug away and work hard and hope for the best. You must observe, evaluate, and change as necessary.
Second: There is now no shield between you and the IRS when it comes to your income. As long as you didn’t outright lie to your employer, it was up to your employer to make sure your pay came with your income taxes already deducted and you and the government just reconciled once a year. While very doable, this is something you must stay on top of, as a mistake could cost untold amount of money, not to mention the time-sink. Remember point one about choosing productive projects? There is nothing productive about the endless hours the IRS can demand you spend with them.
Third: Set realistic schedules. Sometimes, as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and try to do everything yourself. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can do something in a given time frame just because that’s when it must be completed by. As you grow, learn to delegate responsibility with employees you trust.
Fourth: Always negotiate everything with clients up-front. If you accept a job from a customer and just think you’ll send them the bill afterwards, think again. Customers don’t always know a realistic amount a job should cost. If your bill is much higher than they anticipated, they’ll think you’re trying to take advantage of them, and may even try to get out of paying it. Regardless of whether they pay it or not, they’ll certainly make sure everyone they knows hears about how you “ripped them off”, whether you actually did or not. Attacks on your credibility can ruin a business, even if inaccurate. Go above and beyond to be beyond reproach.
Lastly: Market, market, market!!! It’s so easy to get caught up in projects and greasing the wheels that keep the machine working smoothly that you can forget to keep searching for customers to fuel your business! At Caring Transitions, that means networking. You can’t just put up ads and expect customers to shout “Eureka!”. Remember, before you sell your business, you must sell yourself!