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This blog has been kindly written for JMC by Tej Singh. Tej is a freelance recruiter and also took the plunge some years ago to become self employed and open his own recruitment agency, Exacity Recruitment.

Transitioning into self-employment from a job.

Working a normal 9-5 is just that, normal. It feels right, balances with society and defines a ‘clear’ work life balance. Now, if you’re reading this as a business-owner, you’’ disagree with all of that! 

When I worked as an employee, my life was much more structured, I had clear working hours, a holiday allowance, no weekend working, a set time to get up, set clothes to wear and often, defined targets. In a way, this works well with us humans, we love habit and routine and it gives you just this. 

Things can change quickly, and so can your mind and ambitions. There may come a point when you want to start your own business, good on you! We all talk about it, share many ideas with friends and wish we could make that jump. We all can. When I did it, it was pretty straightforward and I thought it would be a dream to work for myself and from home. I soon found out, it wasn’t all positive. The transition can be very tricky and require a strong mindset, or the ability to strengthen it quickly. Here are my top tips for going self-employed from working in a job:

Money

Ensure you have enough savings for X many months, replace X with the estimated time it will take to get your first paycheque from your new business…. plus some extra contingency time, just in case. Don’t keep saving forever, and then realise you’ve waited too long. 

Environment

Set your home office up to fit your workings style, separate it physically and mentally from the rest of the house. Or, rent an office (which is expensive at the start). Decorate and furnish it to your standard, ensure you have a good ergonomic set up and you can focus here. This is where the dream becomes reality. My office has 5 plants, it’s just what works for me. 

Social life

Don’t get so engrossed in your work; staying in, and never socialising. It’s easy to do this, work becomes everything, especially at the start when you aren’t making money. Take fresh air breaks, leave the house, network and see your friends. Social isolation is not good for your health and won’t help your business get ahead. 

Paperwork

Being self-employed means you’ll have various responsibilities; self assessment, tax, accounts, VAT, Companies house and others. You think you’ll have lots of time to do these things now you haven’t got a commute and you’re the boss. I’ve found this paperwork often slips by! Hire someone to look after these aspects, or be diligent in completing them on time, as the paper can really pile up. 

Motivation

Without KPIs, a Manager, company objectives and quarterly meetings, you may miss that extra ‘push’ to get things done. Your motivation will go through ups and downs on this journey, join an accountability group, set up a networking meeting with fellow entrepreneurs and help each other stay motivated. Set your own targets, break them down into actions and hold yourself accountable. Also, you’re allowed off-days and holidays, these help maintain your motivation.

I made many mistakes relating to the above points as I made the transition to being self-employed, I hope by sharing these you can avoid them and plan ahead, to get ahead.