The past three years has seen huge growth in the numbers of people undertaking solo self-employment. The explosion of amazing online tools means that for some, starting a business of their own is as simple as having a good idea and getting started! And how amazing is that? The self-imposed human boundaries (we must work 9-5, work happens every day Monday to Friday, we must go to an office to work…) no longer need apply. People can shape their working life to suit their own needs and desires. To me, that’s just so important.
I know how important that is. I walked away from jobs when the hours (and expected overtime too) threatened to take over my life. They also made me incredibly unhappy. Plus, there’s only so much heart and soul one wants to put into a job when you’re building profit and making money for someone else, right? Giving a job your everything and getting a promotion (and maybe a £1,000 pay rise?!) once every year or two? That just isn’t OK. So, it’s no wonder things were going to change.
The impact of the pandemic
Then came Covid-19. It’s accelerated many changes to our lives, such as the adoption of online shopping and working from home. But it also had a huge impact on the way we work. So many workers were suddenly at home all the time while others were furloughed or let go. Many turned to self-employment to see them through, in the hope of creating a life with better terms. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens when economies recover. Will people stick to solo self-employment? The freedom it offers and the potential to scale income is invaluable to many. I think firms might just have to up their game to attract the best talent back.
Two home truths for solo self-employed
But solo self-employment can mean a steep learning curve for someone used to being part of a team. Not only do you need to learn about or outsource many back-office tasks, but you might also find one or two limitations rear their ugly head. Self-doubt, imposter syndrome and even loneliness can hamstring those efforts to scale your business. At best, they will probably spoil what should be a really fun ride! I know exactly how that feels. I let some of those issues nearly destroy my business in the early days of 2016/2017 when I didn’t really know what I was doing, was bullied, and constantly doubting myself.
Then there’s the self-discipline required to actually DO the work. Since going self-employed in 2015, I’ve rarely struggled with this as I’ve always been busy and totally loved the work I’ve been lucky enough to do! But now, I’m known as the positivity queen by peers and clients, both of my businesses are flying and I’m never, ever lonely.
So, here’s my advice for anyone solo-preneuring right now, and it’s based around two key truths:
- A positive mindset can be your own internal cheerleader
- You don’t have to be lonely even if you work alone
Mindset is essential to make self employment work
Let’s dive into mindset first. Our minds are incredibly powerful, which you’re probably very aware of if yours is causing you bother. But what you might not know is that you have an unconscious mind as well as a conscious one, that the former is far more powerful. In fact, the unconscious takes up a staggering 96% of your total mind. Plus, it is 1 million times more powerful than the conscious! That means that is the part you need to work on to change your outlook.
If your unconscious mind is rooted in a place of negativity, you’re going to find every day a struggle. Think of it this way – your unconscious mind can be your best friend or your very worst enemy. The good news? You can choose which one you want, and with a little work, your new positive mindset will become an internal cheerleader you take everywhere with you.
How to nurture a positive mindset
One thing to note is that mindset work will never be ‘finished’. I started working on mine years ago and I still work on it every single day. No exceptions. But it doesn’t take much time out of your busy days and I promise you will see benefits before long. So how does it work?
I use a morning routine which includes affirmations, mediation and gratitudes to ensure I’m set for the day ahead. I use a vision board to help me visualise my successes incredibly clearly and journal to help me make sense of what’s lurking in my mind and get myself in the right frame of mind. Mindset work also carries on throughout my day, where I make an effort to see the positives in everything, no matter how small. And it really, truly has transformed my business and my life for the better!
How to banish loneliness when you work alone
If you’re used to a bustling office, then working on your own from home can feel overwhelming – 8 or 9 hours stretching ahead of you… But I passionately believe it doesn’t have to be that way. To make self employment work you need to be happy, not lonely! Here are my top tips to help the day fly by and grow yourself a network of people to support you.
- Collaboration over competition. It might sound like a cliché but it’s so true! Try to connect with people who are in the same boat or journey. Whatever sector or role you’re in, I know there will be other people out there with the same challenges as you. Talking to them will help you both!
- Find some business besties. When I got my first business coach, I ended up getting to know some of her other clients. The same happened with my second coach and the subsequent mastermind I joined,and some of those ladies remain my business besties several years on. We chat, we hold each other accountable, and we offload. It’s amazing – you can’t beat that support.
- Keep learning and investing in yourself. If you join online challenges and coaching courses to learn new skills for your business, you’ll find yourself talking to all manner of business owners and entrepreneurs. Not only will you be learning, but you’ll also be happier too.
- Make sure you take breaks. I am a huge advocate for getting outside for a brisk walk and some fresh air every day, no matter how busy I am. You can use this time to call a friend or loved one too, which will help you stay connected.
Go out and give it a go!
If you’re one of the thousands of people who have taken the step to being self-employed in the past year or so, then well done! Getting started can often be the hardest step! I want other people to make self employment work, just as I have. I truly believe that the steps above will help you make the most of your skills and opportunities, so if you find yourself struggling with your self-belief or feeling lonely, make sure you implement them. And, I would love to hear how you get on, so please connect with me on social to keep me in the loop! All the details you need are below.