By Caroline Smith and the Mind Tools Team
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Working for Yourself

Surviving and Thriving in Self-Employment

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Do you dare to take the plunge and be your own boss?

Has the thought of setting up your own business ever crossed your mind? Maybe you have already embarked on the path.

The fact is, almost everyone contemplates being his or her own boss at some point in his or her career. But what does it actually take to make a success of it? And is it really the route that you want to take?

The idea of working for yourself throws up exciting possibilities, such as having better control over your own time and a substantially higher income. These are probably the two key motivators for people who are considering making the change from being employed to becoming self-employed.

But self-employment also involves some significant challenges: Where will you find your customers or clients? Can you manage the administration of running the business while also servicing your customers? And how will you cope without a support network of colleagues around you?

If you're seriously considering taking the plunge and working for yourself, first sit down and think through your decision. You should properly research your market and create a detailed plan of action, starting from the basics. You'll want to assess the field before deciding on your direction, and then you can take the course you've charted towards your goals.

Challenge Your Decision

What are the key reasons for your decision?

  • You've had a brainwave about a new product or service idea, and you're certain will take the market by storm.
  • Your favorite leisure time activity can be turned into a good business proposition.
  • You've acquired certain skills, know-how and contacts in your current area of operation that make for a winning combination if you strike out on your own.
  • The industry has some untapped potential you can exploit, given your special talents.
  • You're not satisfied with the way your career has been shaping up so far.

Whatever the reasons, ensure that you make the change for positive rather than for negative reasons: The grass is not always greener on the other side, and you need to make sure that this isn't just a way of "running away" from situations you really should deal with.

Challenge Some Common Assumptions

When you decide to move from a regular office-going career to full-time self-employment, it's easy to gloss over the reality of what that entails. Here are a few insights into the world of self-employment that you may have overlooked in your enthusiasm....

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