How to suck at self-employment, week one: Be really, really, (really!) risk-averse.
SUPER-SIZED DISCLAIMER, hold the fries: If you’re new to my site, first of all: Hi and welcome! Also: Know one thing: If you have a job and want to start a business, I am *not* an advocate of quitting your job to become self-employed without having some sort of strategy in place. And I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all strategy out there, either. In general, taking a clear-eyed look at your expenses, trimming the fat, and crafting a plan to ease out of a job while starting your biz slowly on the side is a really smart move. So, anyway: I’m so NOT the coach saying “Just quit! It’ll totally be fine!” because that’s probably not going to work. (Am I wrong? Did you up and quit and it turned out totally fine? Write me and let me know what you did that worked — I love exceptions and I’d love to share your story here.)
That being said, there comes a point where you need to move from dreaming to doing. And when you start taking action, that will involve some risk. Most things worth having do, from intimacy to parenthood to skateboards. If you’re severely risk-averse, you might need to ease into this whole self-employment thing. There are some specific things you can do, from hiring a coach or mentor, working on building a new mindset, taking baby steps, etc. But the time will come where you’ll have to, as my mom said to my dad when he was dragging his feet about getting married, “Poop or get off the pot.” (I am the direct result of a romance for the ages. Also, in the interest of accuracy, if not romance, Mom said ‘shit,’ not ‘poop.’)
If the thought of taking chances is making you hyperventilate and also feeling like you have to pee a little, you have two options:
1) Don’t start a business
2) Become determined to get used to risk, change and uncertainty. The up side? You’ll also get used to trusting your intuition, calling your own shots, and doing work you really love*.
Self-employment isn’t for everyone. It’s okay to take a close look at your work, your inclinations, talents, and needs, and come up with a big ‘NOPE’ in response to going it on your own. And hey, some time in the future, that business idea might come back and you might feel more ready. It happens. But if it doesn’t, it’s really freeing to cross one thing off your list so you can get on with other awesome stuff. Clarity = always good! I do write other blog posts and an awesome newsletter on topics that will help you live a happier and more fulfilling life. And you can always stick around here for more non-fries and romantic stories about pooping. I won’t judge.
For those of you who feel nervous but still willing to give this a shot, it’s time to stop talking and start doing. It’s also time to start being willing to suck. Often. At lots of stuff. Mistakes and recurring waves of doubt and feeling wobbly are all part of the game here. I can feel you perfectionists quaking while reading this; it’s cool. We’ll get you through, maybe even with a few typose. (Heh.)
One of my mentors shared this quote often: “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” Are you ready? Gird your loins and join me here next week for more ways to suck at self-employment.
*Starting a biz doing work you love is my recommended course of action for, because why take on work you’re good at (or worse, suck at!) but hate? You can do that anywhere and with dental benefits. But I’m getting ahead of myself and this is a whole other blog post that will be called Go Into Business Doing Work You Really, Really Hate.)
Toni McLellan is a biz + life coach who used to suck at self-employment as a freelance writer and blogger. She sucked even worse at law school, which she attended to avoid getting a straight job. Learn from her mistakes and those of others she’s coached, interviewed, or spotted sucking in the wild. ToniMcLellan.com