7 Practical Tips for the for the Self-Employed
- Thursday, February 07, 2013
Do you find that your work is constantly interfering with your personal time? Is it hard for you to find a balance between family and work obligations? Or maybe you’re just having a hard time getting organized.
Self-employment is a unique work environment with its own set of challenges and blessings. Here are some practical tips to help simplify, expand, and manage your business in an orderly manner “as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
1. Set Office Hours
One of the hardest things about being self-employed is time management. There always seem to be interruptions and things that just have to get done right then. If you find that interruptions keep stealing your time, post your office hours on your door or next to your computer and stick to them. When someone calls the house phone during that time, don’t answer it. Wait to return the call until after your scheduled business hours. Treat your business hours with the same respect as if you were employed by someone else. Setting office hours also keeps you from working too much. If a project doesn’t get done within the allotted hours, set it aside to finish during your next block of scheduled office hours.
2. Purchase the Appropriate Tools
To make your business run as smoothly as possible, make sure you have the necessary equipment: desk, computer, printer, filing cabinets, and office supplies. Of these, the most important investment is your computer and computer software. The right software will not only make your job easier to manage, but also more efficient and cost-effective. As your business grows, consider upgrading your software and purchasing services such as Constant Contact to keep in touch with clients.
3. Create a Website
More and more people are turning to the internet to check out businesses. In this digital age, a website is critical to business. It adds credibility and visibility and also allows you to advertise and track web traffic. However, before you jump into creating a website, take a minute to evaluate your budget and what kind of “feel” you are going for. If you’re a very small business, you may want to buy your domain name and learn how to set up a Wordpress site on your own. If you have a larger business, investing in a professional web designer may be the wiser option. Also, before you launch your website, get some feedback on it. Ask some friends these questions: Does it look professional? Is it easy to navigate? Last of all, don’t forget put your social media links in a visible location—preferably at top of the page or on the sidebar—so people can connect to you easily.
4. Monitor Your Marketing
Don’t waste funds on marketing techniques that are not generating revenue. Take the time to measure the success of each marketing effort. For example, is there an increase in traffic on your website during the week a magazine ad runs? Do you see an increase in traffic and/or sales when a blogger does a free giveaway of your product on their site?
5. Organize Your Space
People say, “Cluttered desk, cluttered mind,” and I tend to agree. When I have a messy work area, I keep thinking, “I need to organize!” every time I glance at the piles surrounding me. Organizing pro Marcia Ramsland offered this helpful hint at one of her workshops. She suggested that before you open your computer in the morning, take five minutes to organize your desk. And you know what I discovered? You can do a lot in five minutes!
6. Practice Professionalism
Convey professionalism through your presentation and communication with customers. Choose a logo, and make sure that your business cards, website, and email signature include the logo as well as your most up-to-date contact information. This gives your company a professional look, and it gives customers a symbol to associate with your business. Also, when communicating with customers, employees, and colleagues, be personable but professional. Try to respond to emails in a timely manner, and, when you meet with a client, always dress to represent.
7. Stay Balanced
It’s easy for your business to take over your life, especially if you’re working from home. This is why it’s vital to create and maintain business hours. It’s also important to evaluate how well you’re spending your time. Every few months, ask yourself, “Is my work cutting into my family/personal time too much? If so, is there anything I can change to improve the situation?” Sometimes you’re stuck working long hours for a season, but try to keep it to “a season” and not the entire life of your business.
I would like to leave you with one last thought. My self-esteem is often tied to my business. It helps me to remember this simple truth: As Christians, our worth is not found in the success of our businesses, in the reputation of our business, or even in making our customers happy. Rather, our worth is in found in Jesus Christ. We are His children. Our businesses are merely one way we spread His love to the world around us.
Felicia Alvarez lives in Southern California and loves avocados, sunshine, and serving her Savior. Currently, she teaches dance to over one hundred students and is working on her second book. Connect with Felicia on her blog or Facebook—she would love to hear from you.
Publication date: February 7, 2013
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