It’s the dream of so many; to work from home, in their pyjamas, with a freshly brewed coffee in one hand, a margherita in the other, and a few emails sent each day enough to earn its keep. The reality of being self-employed, though, is somewhat different. Self discipline, motivation, unreliable incomes and unpredictable hours are just some of the obstacles that can cause you to trip, stumble and fall if you’re not constantly vigilant, alert and on your A game. A few simple measures can go a long way in avoiding these potential pitfalls. These are those; our 5 IDEAL steps to self employed success.

A REGIMENTED ROUTINE

When self employed and particularly when doing so from home, the lines between the working day and period of downtime can become blurred. It’s vital if you’re to make a success of self employment to employ a rigorous, regimented routine that mimics office hours and attitude. This means ceremonious opening and closing of the day so the transition to and from work mode is clear and seamless.

Try to wake up early and at a consistent time each morning, perhaps begin the day with a spot of yoga, and enjoy a light breakfast; all before you first cast your eyes over your email. Then, set about your work in a dedicated space without distraction. That means; no completing house chores, no cheeky half hour on the sofa for Homes Under the Hammer, and no excessive social media use. When the working day is done, make a point of shutting down your computer and placing it in a cupboard; out of sight and mind. An exercise session, brisk walk or meditation at the end of the working part of your day will close things off succinctly.

NETWORK, SOCIALISE, CONNECT

Self employment, especially when your home is also your office, can be an insular thing. Conversation is almost entirely conducted online, with typing fingers rather than wagging tongues, and the cat or dog is quite often your only companion for the day. The obvious need for a bit of human company aside, this isolated way of living can also be detrimental to your work flourishing. It’s important, then, to take every opportunity to network, physically, to get the name of you brand out there and cultivate new working relationships. This could be in the form of conferences, clubs, industry fairs, or even simply a coffee with a colleague you only usually engage with over email.

MANAGE YOUR MONEY AND ASSETS

When you’re self-employed, there’s no such thing as a paid vacation or a consistent pay check. When you’re not working, you’re not making money. You also don’t get any of the financial perks that come with employment like bonuses or pension payments. That’s why it’s vital to manage your money wisely. Keep on top of your tax and national insurance, budget for leaner months and make sure you keep track of all your business expenses and keep the receipts.

Protecting yourself, your company and its assets is so important when you’re self employed, as there’s no fall back or safety net otherwise. It’s vital then that you get proper, all encompassing insurance to help cushion the blow of any unforeseeable problems afflicting your business.  Insurance providers like Sherpa specialise in self-employed insurance for those who run their own businesses, contractors, and freelancers, and this insurance for the self-employed can provide invaluable peace of mind for those who are masters of their own destiny.

LEARN TO SAY NO

It may sound simple, but when working for yourself, uttering that two letter word can be tough. There’s so much more at stake when your income is under your control alone, and sometimes we can take on more than we can cope with. Give permission to yourself to put your foot down, with refusal delivered in a firm but friendly manner, and you’ll soon notice those you’re working with treating you with more respect, not less. If not, then a little reasoning goes a long way; quality of work, not quantity, benefits from learning when and how to say no.

The two letter word should also be applied to friends and family. When you’re self employed, those close to you often don’t understand that you can’t simply take the afternoon off to go to lunch when you make your own schedule.  True, your schedule is flexible, but this doesn’t necessarily mean availability. A late lunch means you’ll probably be up until 1am working to make up for it.

TARGETS

Self employment can sometimes feel like a undirected meander through the day, rather than a purposeful and focused foray. Setting targets, both long and short term, is the key to success when you are your own boss. These don’t necessarily have to be purely focused on income, revenue and money making; personal growth and training should also play a part. This holistic approach to improvement will be more beneficial to your company’s flourishing in the long run, make no mistake.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.