Self-employment: Getting started

There's a myth in the workplace that self-employment is somehow unusual, something people do when they can't get a 'normal' job. That's just plain wrong. Self-employment is the full-time career of some of the most successful people on Earth. A large percentage of the world's workforce have 'normal' jobs working for people who are actually self-employed.

Self-employment basics

Self-employment is a big learning curve for people who are used to the workforce as employees. It requires some alterations of mindset and new perspectives.

These are the fundamental points:

  • It's a real job and it's a 24/7/365 job.
  • You have to be able to run everything yourself, as and when required.
  • You need to be able to handle all the business elements yourself.
  • You will need the right training to set up a full scale business.
Your business concept

When setting up your business, you have to start with the essentials of doing practical business. Everything about your business has to be functional, and be paying for itself.

Business viability

The first issue is viability. Setting up a business can cost time and money, and a lot of both. You need to be sure you can operate a profitable business, and there are some easy ways to make sure you can. Ask yourself:

  • Where do you want to set up your business?
  • What sort of business can you get for yourself?
  • What can you charge?
  • What are your overheads?
  • What's the competition?
  • What are their charges?

It can take you no more than half an hour to figure that out, if you know your business well. A lot of businesses start because opportunities are obvious when answering these questions. You may need to research commercial ideas, and check out your market, but you can get a good idea of what you can do pretty easily.

Business administration

The next major issue is business administration. Never get casual or lazy about this, and you'll save yourself a lot of costs and worries. All of the business administration work has to be strictly according to law. Always make sure you can operate your own administration yourself, and understand the issues.

You need to have these systems well organized and functional:

  • A full record system for all transactions including your own costs
  • A cash book system
  • A tax record system
  • Receipts
  • Banking account facilities
  • A business correspondence system

This is business, and it's your business. It has to be done properly. Mistakes do cost money, and it will be your money. When self-employed, everything is your responsibility. The better you know your business systems, the better you'll do.

At this point, the things you need to know about viability and administration are the main priorities. Work your way through each part of the setup process systematically, check it all out. Part 2 shows you how to get training.