August 11, 2015

Be Your Own Boss: 9 tips for a D.I.Y. life

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Not all of us were meant to work underneath another person.

The micro-managing, constant supervision and doing work we don’t necessarily feel that ecstatic about can be soul-sucking.

More and more people are realizing the value of a DIY life: starting a business and doing what you love. You’ll hear about how hard and how fulfilling it is to be stepping into your calling; both are absolutely true.

Here are nine things I’ve learned since starting a business doing what I’m truly passionate about:

1. Don’t do it alone.

It’s easy to feel isolated and overwhelmed when starting out on your own. You need a network of like minded people doing the same thing to reassure you you’re not crazy and indeed a badass. Connect via social media, follow people on Instagram and Twitter, comment and make yourself known and use relevant hashtags so others can find you.

Find a meetup group to find others in your field. Once you get out of your comfort zone and just do it, you’ll realize there are so many people out there dealing with the same insecurities and they were just as nervous going to strange meetup as you were. Also, make it a point to support other small businesses. Let them know you support them and verbalize how you appreciate their work. Don’t be afraid to suggest collaborations and working with other businesses either.

2. Declutter.

Often we make excuses for change and doing what we actually find enjoyable because we’re so busy. Objectively look at your life and the way you spend your time. What are some things you could cut out to free up time and money? Netflix? Burdensome obligations? How can you consume less and give back (to yourself and others) in a way that gives you energy rather than sucking it away?

Decluttering your space and home is a powerful way to gain clarity. Example: plants are both functional and beautiful. They purify the air and make gorgeous decoration instead of those knick knacks that are just collecting dust.

3. Get clear.

It probably often feels like your head is a firework show. So many beautiful new ideas exploding and you’re not sure which one to chase. It can be exciting and also incredibly overwhelming. Two ways to get clear: meditate (download the app HeadSpace and get going!), hire a business coach or converse with someone you trust to help you look at the bigger picture and how you can get there.

4. Approach everything with curiosity. 

When you’re starting out on this exciting new venture there will inevitably be wrenches thrown into your plan that can derail the whole enterprise. As one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Marie Forleo, says: “Everything is figure-outable.”

Approach setbacks with curiosity and a desire to learn from that situation.

People will tell you being your own boss is hard, and it is, but having a willingness to learn rather than freak out is the best way to maintain sanity and still be utterly in love with how you’ve structured your life.

Let go of stress as a status symbol.

5. Remember that you are not your business.

When you’re running your own business, it’s easy for that business to define you. If it succeeds, you succeed, if it fails, you fail. You are not your business. The state of your worth does not depend on your businesses’ worth.

6. Be vulnerable: ask for help.

Who has it all figured out? No one. Be willing to ask your community for help, whether you need help with accounting or just getting the word out about what you’re doing. It’s so easy to connect with people just by sending a quick Facebook message or email.

7. Learn from other businesses rather than comparing. 

Having respect for of someone else and admiring them can be inspiring, not depressing. Send them a quick email expressing how you respect their work and would love to learn from them. Most people are so kind to help a brother or sister out because they know how difficult it is just starting out. Offer to buy them lunch or coffee to talk about the industry, setbacks and successes.

8. Know the difference you are making.

You can’t sell yourself if you just explain what you do. You sell yourself and make others believe in you when you express the difference your business is making and how it can create positive change. This does not mean being “salesy” or arrogant; it means knowing who or what you are changing, and how you are making a difference. Why does the world need you?

9. Know that you don’t have to be perfect at everything.

Not so good at web design? Hate bookkeeping? Being a small business owner, it’s easy to get mired in the ol’ “jack of all trades, master of none” cycle. Know what you excel at and do that. Then try and outsource other things you’re not so good at. If it’s expensive, don’t be shy to suggest trades with other small businesses.

If you’re a small business owner, or looking to start your own gig, I’d love to hear your own strategies for success. Leave a comment below and inspire others!



The Habit of Prosperity: Self-Employment As Walking Meditation



Author: Hannah Brantley

Editor: Renée Picard 

Image: Flickr/Alessandro Valli 

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