Starting a business gives you the opportunity of running your own show. But many also assume it means the end of the 9-to-5 grind or no more uninspiring projects. Yet, this rosy picture doesn’t always reflect the reality of being in charge.
That’s because, all too often, self-employed individuals are overworked, very stressed, and simply underpaid. If that sounds familiar, here are six ways you can be a better boss to yourself.
1. Invest in Things That Will Help You Do a Better Job
Self-employed individuals sometimes make absurd sacrifices to save a few dollars. Unfortunately, that old computer or software version may be holding you back. Don’t hold the purse strings too tightly when it comes to those expenses that could help you be more productive and satisfied on a daily basis. For example, take some time to see if there are new software or online tools that could help you get more done in less time.
2. Invest in Your Education
Great entrepreneurs are always learning. Don’t hesitate to invest in conferences, training sessions, classes, even networking events. You’ll be able to learn new skills, gain the insight needed to expand your business, and make valuable contacts. Look for relevant industry seminars and conferences, a local chamber of commerce events, even extended learning classes at a local college or community center.
3. Invest in a Great Benefits Package
When you’re self-employed, you get freedom and flexibility, but you lose the company-provided benefits package and other perks of a full-time employee. This means you’ll need to invest in your own healthcare and retirement.
For healthcare, make a list of what you want, then talk to an insurance broker about your possible insurance options. For many self-employed people, especially sole proprietors and partnerships, a high-deductible plan with an HSA is usually a solid bet from a financial standpoint. Depending on your business structure, you may find you can deduct most, if not all, of your insurance premiums for you and family members.
Consider joining an association or professional organization that offers group-based health coverage to members. For example, members of the National Association of Science Writers are eligible to participate in their group health and dental insurance. Of course, be sure to fully understand all the membership fees and dues before joining.
Additionally, as a small business owner, you have a range of possible retirement plan choices, from SEP to SIMPLE IRA plans. You may be hesitant to tie up money you might need for your everyday expenses. However, if you’re self-employed, you’ll need to get started on retirement savings now, even if it means just a small investment of $25 a month. Talk with a financial planner or CPA about the best retirement program for your situation and taxes.
4. Don’t Undervalue Your Services
Many new businesses charge the least amount possible out of fear that clients won’t pay more. Then, they worry what will happen if they ask to raise their prices. But when you set your pricing too low, you need to take on more clients and clock more hours to stay in business. What’s the result? You’re overworked and often end up with clients who don’t value your services.
At the most basic level, your business is all about earning the money you deserve for the value you bring to customers. As long as you do a great job of meeting your customer’s needs, you should be able to be compensated fairly and even raise your prices.
5. Invest in the Legal and Administrative Aspects
If you’re self-employed, then you are 100% responsible for your business. This means it’s up to you, and you alone, to make sure your business is compliant with any license and permit requirements. You should consider forming an LLC or corporation for your business. While the legal fine print may not be the most glamorous part of your business, it can be essential to your business and personal financial health. An LLC or Corp will protect your own personal assets from any company liability. So, if your company happens to be sued, your personal savings are shielded.
6. Reward Your Best Employee: You
Be sure to reward yourself when you have great moments, like landing a big client win or meeting a tough deadline. Your reward can be as creative as you’d like. Maybe even just a night off without the cellphone or computer.
Running your own business is not easy, so be sure to acknowledge each success. After all, you no longer have a boss to recognize your hard work so it’s up to you to keep yourself motivated and inspired.
Nellie Akalp is the CEO of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service, where she helps entrepreneurs incorporate or form an LLC for their new businesses. Connect with Nellie on Twitter or visit her free resource center.
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