So you want to be self employed?
With Australia leading the world in using online workers to fuel its economy, and Mashable predicting that 50% of all workers will be freelance, now seems to be a great time to make the leap from employed to starting your own business.
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Before you make the move of becoming your own boss, here are three points to consider:
1. Have a clear idea of your strengths and weaknesses
Often you want to start your own business but have no idea where to begin. You may or may not have ideas about the type of business you’d like. Start by sitting in a quiet room with a piece of paper and a pen. List down your strengths in one column and your weaknesses in another (or things you don’t enjoy doing). Then list your expertise, for example, you might be highly skilled in writing business plans or writing web copy.
Complete this exercise over a couple of days, giving your brain time to absorb the information and come up with a few more things you hadn’t thought of. After you have completed the list, match your strengths to your expertise. This will give you an idea of what niches you want to be positioned in and make your personal brand stand out clearly. For example, you might enjoy business strategy and at the same time be skilled in writing web copy. You can position yourself as an expert in both of these niches to define what type of business you want to be in.
2. Study the market and your chosen niche
Once your list is complete, have a mosey around the net and Facebook for the types of things other experts are doing. Reviewing their websites will give you an idea of the type of wording used, design expectations, email capture methods for your own business. Jot down any similarities or differences you see.
How do you find these experts? Use the keywords you’d like to be found for in Google and see what names and businesses come up.
Facebook is becoming an excellent method of providing value to potential customers by interacting in the comments or posting your own questions. Join a few business groups to start with – look for groups using the search function. Don’t spend more than half hour going through these groups. Contribute by sharing your knowledge generously and be an active member. Lots of opportunities also get shared in these forums so become a familiar name through active participation.
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Check out small business government websites like www.business.gov.au for resources or checklists on how to start a business. Have a list of associated costs so you know how much money is required to become self-employed.
3. Talk to business owners
Often running a business seems like a great choice compared to working in a job. However, don’t quit your job just yet. If you can start a part time business around your existing job than it eases the stress of trying to generate an income straight away. Talk to other business owners about what it really takes to start a business, the money required and what other things are necessary. For example a lot of businesses are using Facebook pages to generate interest in their business before actually launching a website. This way they’re working with a captive audience interested in what the business has to offer when it comes to selling their products or service. You can also use low cost Facebook ads to gauge levels of interest in your target audience.
Chatting to other business people will also give you ideas on what not to do. Most people are happy to give you advice and share with you how they went about starting a business. Talk to friends and family about your ideas and they might know of other people you can talk to for more information.
Rashida Tayabali is the founder of Project Mum, a project matching service that connects growing businesses to skilled mums for short and long term projects. She helps solo business owners gain clarity and focus in their business through one-on-one coaching sessions. If you’re a small business owner seeking focus and clarity in your business, or need help in making the leap to self employed and not sure how to begin, register for her brand new coaching sessions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Alejandro Pinto