Self Employment Mistakes to Avoid

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

The self-employed life is fantastic for a wide array of reasons, ranging from working on projects you love to the timetable flexibility that often accompanies entrepreneurial ventures.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s all fun and games. Working for yourself means that you’re entirely responsible for your own financial security and well being, whether you run a writing, financial, hospitality, or garbage companies. Don’t expect anyone to offer you medical cover and a pension plan.

Here’s a look at some of the top mistakes that the newly self-employed tend to make, and which you should be careful to avoid.

Spreading yourself too thin
When we’re in charge of our own businesses, it can seem that we need to do fulfill every role that a full corporate team would, individually. On top of that, there’s a limitless number of resources on the web, and books in print, that will tell us about the vital importance of some or other particular business strategy.

The problem is that no matter who we are, we only have so many hours in a day, and so much mental energy to spend on a given project.

By trying to do too many things at once, you’ll not only stress yourself beyond all control, but you’ll likely find that you end up not doing any of them as well as they deserve.

Instead of trying to apply every business strategy you can find, focus on a couple of core elements to optimise. Once you’ve got those relatively under control, consider adding new strategies to the mix.

The point to remember, though, is to focus your energy — not scatter it.

Neglecting SEO
It’s a simple fact of the times we live in that every business needs a web presence, no matter how humble, and no matter how disconnected from the internet it might be in general.

One of the most vital things for you, as a self-employed professional, to do, is to familiarize yourself with the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and content creation for the web. It’s so important that it would be well worth your while investing in a short course to learn the fundamentals.

Your business will revolve around the internet to a large degree, for promotion and advertising, for contacting prospects, and more.

Not keeping to regular working hours
The business world, by and large, works on a set schedule from roughly 8 a.m. to  5 p.m. each day. Self-employed people, unlike most workers, often have the ability to keep wildly unconventional and irregular business hours from day to day.

If you want to have the best shot at succeeding in your field, however, you’ll want to be awake and be working at the same sorts of times that your would-be clients and the other members of your industry are.

Sticking to a regular working routine has an additional benefit, as well — it makes it easier for you to maintain structure and keep up a healthy work-life balance, with time to socialize with friends and catch up with your significant other.

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Different ways to reach a leadership role

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Not all entrepreneurs are the same, and not all routes to business success are the same either. If you want to be your own boss, there are other options beyond starting your own business from scratch. 

Franchising
Getting started in the world of entrepreneurship and owning a business can be difficult. With limited time and resources, financing might be a good way to own your own business with an established brand. 

Financing involves a franchisee (which would be you) paying into an already existing franchise company and in returning gaining the use of its trademark and working title. Once this is done the franchisee is granted the right to trade under the name of the business. And doing so can wield great business results for the franchisee, if the franchise they buy into is a strong one with potential in your market. To ensure that this is the case, you should look into the franchise’s future and the part it can play in its field’s future. For instance, senior care franchises are worth considering over say, a pizza place, because by 2030 it is projected that there will be 72 million seniors in the U.S., many of who will be looking to private geriatric care companies. 

Focus on marketing
Marketing is seeping into almost all areas of business, not just traditional advertising and branding. For instance, because marketing is of such importance today, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are now being touted for Chief Executive Officer (CEO) roles rather than Chief Financial Officers (CFOs). So, if finding your way to being a CEO soon rather than later is your business goal, consider becoming more adept at marketing and leveraging your knowledge to an eventual executive position within an organization. 

By focusing on marketing you give yourself the chance to take a plethora of other different routes that could also take you a leadership role.

There is no right way to be a business owner. Find a way to set your own rules and your guidelines for your own business, determine what success looks like for you and then work hard to achieve it. 

Don’t be afraid of a staff party

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Sometimes they can seem like a bit of a waste of time or money, but staff parties are usually something to look forward to in the working world. Indeed, even Richard Branson advocates for having staff parties. Businesses of all sizes can and should have a night where they can come together in an extremely informal setting.

They Keep Your Employees Motivated
If your employees know they’re valued by you, they’re likely going to keep coming to work and working to the best of their ability. Productivity aside, coworkers who spend time together often form a more of a tight-knit circle at work. The moral of your workers is incredibly important. A staff party does not need to be a full-blown catered, alcohol-fueled affair, instead, it could be a luncheon acknowledging accomplishments or a dinner. 

They Make Sure You Celebrate Holidays (and Achievements)
A winter holiday or spring party is both fun and a good way to bring in the holidays, and a great payoff for either a good or bad year. Thank your employees for their participation in the working year during these periods, and let them bask in this reward. You can also reiterate your working message, or your brand, at this point as well, and remind everyone why they’re doing what they’re doing. It just helps to strengthen a business model on the whole.

It Keeps Work Enjoyable
Having fun while at the often is often forgotten. Yet, it is important for businesses of all sizes to remember that coming to work and wanting to come to work are two different things and should be treated accordingly. To converge them, find a way to make work fun. A staff party is great for sorting this out. If you don’t know where to start, or even what you would need to put one together, contact a few local event planners to help you get started. You may just need a guiding hand, or let someone else take the whole thing off of them if it’s too much for your workload.  Of course, a party isn’t going to solve all the problems employees and managers have with work or in their lives, but it sure does make some of it easier. Don’t expect immediate results after having a good celebration together, but do try to keep the spirit of the night up throughout the rest of the year.

How to set the rules and guidelines for your business

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

When was the last time you refreshed the rules that are in place in your workplace? Every business with more than one employee needs to think about rules and disciplinary policies. Not doing so will only make your business a more risky and dangerous place to work. That can backfire at any moment. On top of that, you need to have disciplinary procedures in place so that everyone knows where they stand and how they should behave.

Put Safety First
Nothing matters more than safety when you’re setting rules in your workplace. If anything puts people at risk, it should be against the rules. It really does need to be as simple as that. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of a litigation suit, do you? These days, businesses must be very careful not to be put anyone at risk. And that applies to both customers and clients, as well as employees of the business. So, when you’re setting the rules, don’t let anything take precedence over safety.

Collaborate and Listen to Employees
Rules shouldn’t always be enforced heavy-handedly from above. That’s not usually the best way to produce fruitful outcomes for your business. In fact, it can just make things more difficult for everyone involved. It’s much more productive if you’re able to collaborate with your employees in a cordial manner and listen to their suggestions and feedback. They might have views they want to air to you, and it’s only right that you take the time to listen to them in a fair and reasonable kind of way. If your employees play a part in setting the rules, they will be more likely to abide by them.

Know the Difference Between Rules and Guidelines
You need to make sure that you know the differences between rules and guidelines. Rules are there to be followed, and they can’t be deviated from. However, the definition of guidelines is not the same at all. A guideline is more like a suggestion that can be interpreted in different ways by your employees. You can’t set a lot of guidelines and then be angry when some of them are not interpreted in the way you intended. If you have some policies that you don’t think should be broken under any circumstances, make them rules not guidelines.

Make Clear What the Consequence Will Be
Of course, there need to be consequences for breaking the rules. Otherwise, there is no incentive at all to follow them. So, set up consequences and carefully decide what they will be. But what’s most important is how you communicate those consequences to your workforce. They need to have a full and proper understanding of what will happen if they do break rules or fail to follow clear policies. If you’re not clear about what the consequences will be, things will be unfair.

Always Offer a Chance to Explain
People often have good reasons for not adhering to policies. For example, if someone is late to work according to the employee policies you have in place, you might want to instantly take disciplinary action. But that kind of hasty response can be too much. First, you need to talk to them privately about their reasons for being late. If they have a legitimate reason to back themselves up, you should accept this and move on. There is no sense in punishing people for things they have no control over. That’s just counterproductive in the long-term.

Keep Up the Communication
Finally, you need to make sure you keep up the strong communication that you should already have put in place. By doing that, you can ensure that your business runs smoothly and everyone knows where they stand. And if they feel a need to ask any questions, they should feel comfortable doing so. That’s the smart way to ensure you don’t get caught out or make your employees feel ostracised. Remember, the purpose of this is not to restrict your employees or make them feel persecuted in any way. You need to mitigate those kinds of impacts.

Every workplace is different, but they all need rules. The advice above will help you to set those rules in the right way. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to improve a vital aspect of your business.

Make the most of downtime in your business

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

If you run your own shop or ecommerce store, a quiet period is possibly something that you dread, but you shouldn’t. Even large multinational companies experience quieter months when the sales just don’t come. It’s part of business and something that you must learn to expect and ultimately, plan around. It’s essential that you prepare for these times and use them productively.

Take Inventory

How often do you do a thorough, in-depth stock review? When it’s busy it can be hard to keep track of what you’ve got, and larger than usual orders can make a detailed inventory difficult. This is a great time for running non-essentials down and completing a detailed stock count. This can save you money on orders, give you a more accurate idea of your cash flow and make your business more efficient going forward.

 

Appraisals and Performance Reviews

If you employ staff, use the quieter periods to perform appraisals and reviews. As a society, we’re very quick to judge and criticize, but often not as good as praising and picking up on the positives. So, sit down with every member of your team, praise their hard work, listen to their ambitions and help them to set goals for the future.

 

Chase Payments

This is also a great time to chase up any outstanding payments. A common problem for smaller companies is getting paid on time. If this is something you are struggling with, consider debt factoring to make sure your business doesn’t suffer while you are waiting for money.

 

Planning

When you are busy, it’s hard to plan too far ahead. You do what you can, but a detailed plan and forecast are often out of reach. Spend some time looking at your financial projection and adjusting it to reflect current sales and up and coming events. Then, plan your strategies going forward. Start preparing for winter holidays or you busiest seasons months before using last year’s sales as a guide.

 

Tidy Up

How often do you actually get the chance to give your store and office a good cleaning? Even if you hire a cleaner, you could take some extra time to re-arrange furniture and displays and organize your files and systems. You should also use this time to access your equipment and repair or replace any that need it.

Marketing

Yes, all businesses have quieter times. But, is there anything you could be doing to limit the damage? Look at your marketing strategies. Are you getting your voice heard? Implement new campaigns, run special offers and reward customer loyalty.

Grow Online

Having an online presence is hugely important to modern businesses. Use this time to grow online. If you haven’t already, set up social media profiles and a blog for your business and start using them. When you are busy, there is a lot that you don’t have time for. You focus your attentions on the day to day running of your business and don’t have the time for much else. Use any quieter periods productively, to plan for the future and catch up with any admin or maintenance that needs doing. This will help to ensure your business continues to grow and you are prepared for the busier times.