Being self employed comes with many benefits. You can sleep in, work in your pyjamas and go shopping in the middle of the day. You no longer have to report to a boss who doesn't really understand what you do or deal with mindless workplace politics. It all sounds wonderful, but unfortunately there are also many challenges. Small business owners have to deal with uncertainty and risk. They need to be disciplined and deal with the many demands that being self employed can impose upon us. In the early stages of self employment, most of us have to take on the responsibility of fulfilling a number of administrative functions for which employees are hire in a more established business. Some of the skills that you need to develop are:
Accountant: It is extremely important to have an infrastructure in place to track your finances, receivables, payables and have a tangible idea of your business is doing. To do this you need to keep track of your invoicing, bills, receipt and payments. This can be facilitated through use of an accounting software, although it does take time and training to use it effectively.
Customer Service Rep: Whether you are selling your product or service, following up or dealing with issues that arise, and talking to your customers can take up precious time. Since these are the lifeblood of your business, there is really no way to avoid this.
Marketing Manager: It is up to you to make people aware of your services. Marketing is no longer only about creating brochures and placing advertisements. The ubiquity and pervasiveness of social media has changed the way that business reach their customers. It is now much more important to interact with your potential customer base by blogging, facebooking, instagramming, pinteresting and tweeting, all of which take time and effort.
Director of Operations: Your product or service needs to reach it's intended customer, as requested in a timely and efficient manner. The logistics involved are not always straightforward, whether you are a computer parts distributor or a writer trying to meet a deadline.
Lawyer/Tax Specialist: Setting up a business can be complicated depending on the structure that you choose. Even with a simple sole proprietorship, there are still regulatory and tax filings that need to be maintained, which the business owner needs to be aware of. It is never good to be delinquent with the government. Additionally, depending on the complexities of your business, you might have to file copyrights, patents or trademarks.
IT Specialist: It is likely that you will need a computer to run your business. As anyone who has had a computer can attest to, problems and glitches arise, which can take many frustrating hours to resolve.
Working for yourself can be extremely rewarding, and has the potential to turn a job into something far more meaningful. You do, however, have to be prepared to wear many hats, which on the positive side is an excellent learning process. My experience with business owners is that they are far better at seeing the bigger picture as they have dealt with the various facets of their business much more closely.