working for yourself, woman working on computer on bed

9 Things You Learn When You Start Working For Yourself

I started my professional career writing for a larger magazine—Thought Catalog, to be specific—and I loved it. I loved the fast-pace, the creative challenge of writing multiple pieces per day, the connections with other writers and contributors, and the ability to have such a wide variety of jobs and roles. However, working for myself was always the goal. As much as I loved the environment of full-time job, I craved even more independence and ownership of my career.

March 2018 was when I became completely independent: a full-time freelance writer and business owner of Be A Light LLC, my remote-based writing coaching/editing services business.

Working for yourself comes with its own set of excitements and challenges. Since my soft launch of my company, I’ve lived like a chicken with her head cut off, but I’ve been loving every minute. When you’re your own boss, you learn quite a lot about accountability, work-life balance, and how to stay sane when you’re essentially running a one-woman show. You learn your limits, your strengths and weaknesses, and how to say both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to things that fall into your path. You grow tremendously, and you also fall down. A lot. But ultimately, working for yourself allows you to take a dream from start to finish—and there’s truly no greater feeling in the world.

Here’s a short list of things I’ve learned (so far) on my journey. I hope these points will guide you, whether you’re considering this for your own future, or already jumping in.

1. Setting self-imposed guidelines and deadlines are is important.

One of the most fundamental things I’ve learned in my journey is that to be successful as a remote worker, freelancer, independent contractor, or business owner is that you have to be strict with deadlines and expectations.

First, you have to know what you’re realistically capable of. Can you run a company’s social media accounts, write, host workshops, sell products, and take clients all at once? Probably not, and that’s okay. But if you make sure to be realistic with what you can handle, you’ll be more successful.

Having strict guidelines/deadlines is also important. When you’re working for yourself, there’s no one holding you accountable. There’s no on forcing you to complete things by a certain time (unless, of course, you’re doing a freelance project) so you have to hold yourself accountable and create self-imposed deadlines to keep you on track.

2. You need breaks to keep yourself motivated.

This took me the longest to learn, and frankly, I’m still learning it. Taking breaks is a necessary part of your success. When you give yourself the space to reset and rejuvenate, you’ll end up accomplishing far more than you would if you would have tried to power through.

3. You need to have a plan (and a backup plan).

Working for yourself means when there are mistakes, failures, issues, etc. they’re on you. Though this is a bit daunting, it’s exciting. You’re the go-to person, the big shot, the head. You are the one who figures everything out and troubleshoots the problems. But with that comes having a plan, and a backup plan, and a backup backup plan.

Whether you have a freelance pitch, business strategy, or company goal, make sure that you’re thinking everything through and creating options for if and when things fall apart.

4. Asking for help is okay, and necessary.

When I first started out, I thought I could handle everything. And I wanted to. I was stubborn, and instead of reaching out to people who really could help me, I was convinced I could do it alone. Don’t do this. Closing yourself off to people does nothing but hurt you.

Collaborating, networking, working together—those things build community—and you need that community in order to really grow.

5. Believe in the power of your voice and perspective.

Your voice, perspectives, ideas, etc. have power. Don’t doubt them. Instead, give yourself room to explore, to learn, and to pursue the things that matter the most.

6. Your ideas will only grow as big as you let them.

To further the previous point, empower yourself to believe in your ideas and pursue them, but also cultivate them over time. Working for yourself means you’re largely counting on yourself for inspiration. Don’t hold yourself back. Your ideas will only be as big as you allow them to be.

7. You’re probably going to fall (quite a few times) along the way.

Failure is inevitable. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Pick up the pieces, change your approach, and try again. You will get there.

8. No one’s going to do the work for you.

You have to work really, really hard for what you want, especially in the beginning stages. When you’re too new to fully fund or hire employees, kicking your own but is the only way you’ll rise to the top. Remember that.

9. You are your own worst enemy.

There will be doubters—absolutely. But don’t let that negatively shape the way you see yourself. You are capable. You are growing. You will get there. Don’t let your fear get in the way of the places you will go.

Featured Image Credit: Becca Tapert