When you begin a new job you might reasonably expect some sort of induction. Prior to your first day you might like to know something about the company and where your role sits in the grand scheme of things. You might like to know who you’re working with, how you contribute to organisational goals and something about the company culture. Once you’ve sat behind your new desk for the first time you might want to meet the people you will be working with; establish what performance management looks like; go through anything from your predecessor; learn more about your role and the dependences that go with it; know who to go to for help; and eventually understand what opportunities are now available to you in terms of personal development and career progression. Some of this information may come to you in written form; some of it may be in videos; some of it may come through meetings, both face-to-face and virtual; some of it you might have to find for yourself; some of it might be in self-teach packages, with delivery of all of this content across multiple platforms. Done properly, your induction will leave you with no unanswered questions and leave you feeling prepared for and informed about your new role.
When you begin a new life as a self-employed person, you have little to none of this on-boarding. I have been following this path for 2 years now, and at the beginning I naively thought that by now I would have it all sussed. This turned out to be deeply untrue but these are some of the things I have learned. Some of them I have worked out for myself and others have been gifted to me but none of them arrived in a neat and logical package and most are the product of trial and lots of error.
- Only you can control how your career progresses.
- Not having guaranteed work handed to you by someone else is both terrifying and liberating.
- I personally am not that well suited to spending most of my working time alone and have been much happier and more productive since I moved into a co-working space.
- Establishing a working routine is vitally important for a healthy work/life balance.
- It is very easy to underestimate how long it will take you to complete a piece of work, especially in the early days when you are new to estimating.
- When you have less work on you need to make the most of the freedom this gives you, either to find the next piece of work or to take some time for yourself.
- No-one pays you to go on holiday any more but this doesn’t mean you no longer need a break every now and then.
- Finding the tools that best support your ways of working makes a massive difference to your productivity and levels of organisation.
- Tax and VAT are confusing and expensive and you need a good accountant to help you through the dark days.
- Having a mentor is great (for you at any rate).
What would your top tip be for someone dipping their first tentative and possibly overwhelmed toe into independent waters?