By Telford Aduda
Successfully working for yourself requires more than just having a skill or product that people will buy. It remains an essential component to have something to sell but always remember that you need the following five skills as well:
1. The ability to manage your time and encourage yourself to work.
It is unfortunate that most people, more specifically entrepreneurs, lacks self-discipline. With no boss watching over them, they are able to spend the day watching TV and scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. For many people, it’s a challenge to overcome that temptation and buckle down to get work done. If you are one of those people, you might find yourself going days or weeks without much to show for in the way of work.
Sound like you? If so, you might actually need a boss to stay productive, and it might be close to impossible to work for yourself.
2. The ability to assert yourself about money.
From comfortably citing prices to potential clients, to holding firm when asked to lower your rates, to checking in on an unpaid invoice; one thing you can count on when working for yourself is that you’ll need to talk about money. You might find yourself having to follow up multiple times to chase down payment or needing to deal with a client who denies authorizing your fees. If that makes you seize up with anxiety, prepare yourself now, because that’s often a big part of working on your own. The more comfortable you get with money conversations, the less stressful your life as an entrepreneur will be.
3. The ability to market yourself.
No matter how talented you are or how great your service or product is, clients are unlikely to find you on their own – at least at first. That means you’ll have to market yourself and your work or hire someone to do it for you. How comfortable are you talking about yourself? Are you prepared to make a pitch for why you’d be the best person to do a prospective client’s work? Will you take it personally if you’re turned down?
If you’re lucky, you might reach a point when you’ve built up enough word of mouth over time that you no longer need significant marketing. However, for many freelancers, marketing remains a big part of their work.
4. The ability to turn down clients.
You might think you’d never want to turn down work, but imagine being approached by a client who wants you to do a project you know you would hate or be terrible at or which would conflict with other commitments you’ve made.
One common mistake among freelancers is to take on absolutely every project they’re offered, even if they’re not going to enjoy or excel at it. This, in turn, ends up impacting their ability to get the type of work they enjoy and excel at in the future. After all, if you turn in shoddy work, you’ll harm your reputation. And if you take on work you’re good at but hate doing, you’ll likely get offered similar projects in the future. You’ll be known for the type of work you can’t stand.
As long as you can afford to, you’re far better off being choosy about who you’ll work with and what you’ll do for them – even if it’s scary to say no to a paying project.
5. The ability to fire difficult clients.
Ideally, all your clients will be lovely people who are a pleasure to work with. In reality, you might find yourself with a client or two who are more difficult than the worth of their work. For instance, you might have a client who calls at all hours and won’t stop even after you address it, or one who sends endless revisions to your work but is unable to explain precisely what you need to change or one who has unrealistic expectations of what you will do. On the other hand, you might have a wonderful client whose work doesn’t make sense for you anymore, because they can’t pay your increased rates, their work conflicts with a higher-priority client or your interests and expertise have shifted.