Seven Skills for Successful Self Employment
A little while ago I wrote a blog post on the Seven Qualities to be Successfully Self Employed.
But having the right qualities can only get you so far. You also need the skills for self employment.
If you are going to be successful, you will need a broad array of business skills to succeed in today’s competitive market. However, unlike personal qualities —which can often be hard or impossible to change—you can pick up skills for self employment if you are willing to learn them.
Or, you can hire people to work for you who have the needed skills.
Either way, the following skills are important if you are going to succeed in becoming self employed:
Skills for Self Employment
1. Planning & Decision-Making: The ability to plan is one of the key skills for self employment. You must be able to project into the future and build a plan to achieve your goals. However, planning is only an effective skill when combined with action, so you mustn’t get bogged down in planning. Instead, you need to keep your plans focused but also flexible. You must also be able to make sound decisions. First you will need to decide what you are going to offer as a business. Then you need to decide what to do about marketing, funding, expert support, and a host of other judgements. The key is to be decisive and learn from mistakes, rather than avoid decisions because you’re scared of mistakes.
2. Sales and Marketing - Sales and marketing are the two most important skills for self employment. A business is nothing if it has no customers. You may be the best coach or consultant in the world, but if no one is knocking at your door to hire you, then you better rethink self employment. You may be better off working in partnership with others or working for a company.
3. Financial Know-How – When you’re self employed, you must have knowledge of finance and know how to handle money well. If you can manage your cash flow well when you start up on your own, you will be able to survive the ups and downs of self employment. You need to focus on the bottom line. This means knowing how to stretch the limited start-up capital that you have, spending only when needed and making do with the equipment and supplies that you currently have. You also need to identify the best prices for your services to get the income you need.
4. Time Management – The ability to plan your day and manage time is important when you’re self employed. When you wake up in the morning, you must have a clear idea of the tasks you must do that day. If you are working alone, you must be able to multi-task. You need to be the secretary at the start of the day typing all correspondences and emails; become the marketing manager writing press releases before noon; make sales calls in the afternoon; and become a bookkeeper before you finish. Not to mention seeing clients and doing the work itself. It can be a lot of work for one person so it’s important to know how to manage time and set priorities.
5. Administration - If you can afford to hire an assistant who will organise your office space and file your papers and mails, lucky you! However, most people when they first become self employed cannot afford such luxuries. As well as marketing and planning your business, you need to have good administration skills. You need to file your receipts, do the invoicing, collect payments, and reconcile your bank accounts, credit cards etc.
6. People Skills – Although you may work for yourself, you won’t work on your own. Like all successful business people you will constantly interact with people – clients, your accountant, your bank manager, your referral partners, your website designer to name a few. And you will need to work effectively with them to achieve your own goals. The ability to develop positive relationships is crucial to success.
7. Communication – The skill of communication plays a role in all the other skills above. If you don’t have this skill, you are unlikely to fully develop the other skills. You can’t be a great salesperson without great communication skills. Your planning skills won’t matter if you aren’t able to effectively communicate your plans. You can’t have strong people skills without being a good communicator. And it won’t matter what decisions you make if they aren’t communicated properly to those who can carry them out. So of all the skills listed here this is the most important.
Skills for Self Employment – Personal Assessment
Think about the skills necessary for successful self employment. What are your personal areas of strength? In what areas would you be most likely to need help from other experts? When you’re self-employed you must have the ability to evaluate realistically their own skills and to know when to draw on the skills of others.