Whether setting up your own business or going it alone as a freelancer, there are going to be numerous challenges and learnings along the way. But what are some the key changes you might not expect when you start out? We look at some of the things new business owners discovered in their first few months of starting…
Ways of working suddenly become a lot more flexible
When you speak to people about working for themselves or running their own business, one of the main benefits that almost always comes up is the freedom to set your own course or agenda. But working flexibly doesn’t solely mean being able to travel whilst you work or taking a Tuesday afternoon off because the weather is nice. Clark Boyd, who runs his own digital consultancy, quickly learned that working for himself meant that he could be a lot more flexible and agile in how he tackled projects. “When you get rid of a lot of the formal structures that exist in more traditional workplaces, you’re suddenly able to see things from so many different angles. Your ability to problem-solve and think laterally suddenly become heightened, and you may find yourself surprised by some of the creative solutions you come up with.”
You’ll add new skills to your resume
Often in the workplace, your skills will be focused on one specific area. But running your own business, especially at the beginning, will mean juggling a lot of different tasks, that you’re probably not used to. What’s the best channel to market your business, what messaging will best appeal to your audience? How do I do my own taxes? These questions require answers and, when you start your own business, you soon realize that you need to provide them for yourself. That can mean lots of researching new topics online or even taking a course and gaining an entirely new qualification.
You’ll get really good at decision making (and delegating)
Conversely, you’ll become much more adept at quickly identifying where it’s worth investing your time and effort in order to grow your business, and therefore where it makes sense to outsource projects. Megan Blackburn, now Editor in Chief of Ballad Of Magazine, sees that certain things are best kept “in-house”: “I run all of the social media pages and content myself, because I know the audience and what type of content they will connect with. But it makes less sense for me to spend hours fiddling with type-setting, when it would take an experienced typesetter a fraction of time to do that work.” As a business owner, you’ll be making these kinds of decisions all the time, and soon they’ll become second nature to you.
You’ll start to find inspiration everywhere
Having creative control over all the work you do can be both a blessing and a curse. “It ultimately changes how you look at the world, because suddenly anything is a source of inspiration” says Glenn Murray, Founder of Pint-Sized productions. Megan and George Ward, founder of George B. Ward Photography concur: “Before you start your own business, it seems like you’re the only one taking what can be quite a scary step, but as soon as you do, people start talking about their side-projects and businesses too”. It can be incredibly inspiring to see what other people are doing, and how they’re running their businesses. Because you’re always on the lookout for new ideas, it means you suddenly become much more aware of everything going on around you.
Challenges (and rewards!) can come from the ‘smallest’ things
Things that you never thought might be a problem can end up being the main setbacks says Ward. “We all expect that doing your own taxes is going to be a bit of a headache, but you don’t usually think that a main frustration might come from something like trying to find a free seat in a cafe, or having to work late on a Friday when your friends are down the pub”. It can be harder to find a reasonable work/life balance, especially if your work is your passion. The upside to this however, is that a small thank you can mean so much more than it ever used to: “Seeing my clients delighted when they get their photos, especially when it comes to personal projects, means so much to me”.
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