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I used to be a business consultant, implementing systems into large corporates, and I was miserable as hell!
I shared my own lessons learned from 1 year last September, and today I am really pleased to welcome Liz Broomfield, who has made a similar transition. She has a new book out – Going it alone at 40: How I survived my first year of full-time self-employment. This is all important stuff because writers (and editors) are small businesses too.
Whether you’re starting out as a professional writer of fiction or non-fiction, or running another kind of business, from selling jewellery to providing editing services, if you’re already lucky enough to be employed, it’s a good idea to start off your business part time, to test the waters, make sure it’s viable, and make sure you like doing it! Here are five top tips for starting a business part time, and five for when you take the plunge and go full time.
Note: when I say “business”, this includes “being self-employed”.
Many writers won’t think of themselves as being a “business”. But if you get used to thinking of your self-employment as a business, it will help you to be more committed, more organised and more, well, businesslike!
If you want your books out there actually selling, you need to think like a business person in terms of marketing, time management, finance and all of those things as well as sitting down and putting fingers to keys.
Five top tips for starting a business part time …
So, you’re thinking of being a professional writer or starting up that business. Why not do it part time while you work at the day job, to test it out, make sure you’ve got enough money to support yourself, and launch the safer way? These top tips will help you to work out what to do and when to do it:
1. Start as you mean to go on – set up routines, whether that’s invoicing templates, writing aids or software or a special area of the house to work in.
2. Embrace good time management – it’s hard to juggle but will be oh, so much easier when you’re full time doing the thing you love.
3. Keep time for yourself – give up watching TV if you need to, scale down nights out with friends, but make sure you still keep some “me” time and some “us” time (whether the other half of the “us” is your life partner, your cat or your best mate).
4. Plan, plan, plan – have that full-time goal in mind, keep on track, work out when the right time to go part-time at your job or leave altogether, and then it’s more routine and less scary to take the plunge when you know it’s the right time.
5. Be realistic – not working out? Hating writing even part-time? Sick of beads and wire? It’s better to find that out now than later! Think of this time like an engagement or a trial period: find out what you enjoy and what works while it isn’t critical.
… and five top tips for when you’re full time
You’ve hit the sweet spot where you’re earning enough to support yourself while you work on what you love doing full time. Now you’re fully committed to writing that novel or that series of self-help books; or you’re at a point in your business where you need more time for your clients or for making your crafts. This is easier than working part-time on one job and part-time on your business, but these tips will help it to go more smoothly:
1. Have a routine – if you’re working at home all day, it’s all-too-easy to slip into those pyjamas and never answer the door. Try to go out every day, try to take exercise and try to eat well. You might even want to make a list of what you’ll do every day and post it online or on the fridge!
2. Claim something back – now you’re full time, you SHOULD have some more free time. If you gave something up in stage one, now’s the time to claim back those telly programmes, Saturday morning lie-Ins or nights out with the girls.
3. Maintain those routines – you’ll be doing more of everything, so now’s the time to make sure those routines you’ve set up really work for you, and consider outsourcing some of the boring bits.
4. Develop a social media strategy – you’ll have time for the Facebook and Twitter updates, refining your website (or setting one up) and networking in person and online. This is a great way to build your business and move it on to the next level.
5. Remain realistic – keep note of what you’re doing, what works, what doesn’t. Keep on top of your records of income and outgoings and check you’re making enough profit to support yourself. Still set goals for yourself and still monitor your progress – as your business matures, or your writing career develops, you need to keep tabs on it, and constantly monitor, refine and position yourself.
You can do it: that’s the key.
Working part-time on your writing “business” or your crafting or service provision allows you to hone what you’re doing and make sure you know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how to do it best while still held in the supportive framework of a job and a salary.
This will give you much more ammunition when it’s time to tell yourself (and your loved ones) that it’s time to go solo and strike out on your own. Good luck!
Do you want to move into writing/editing full-time? Do you have any questions or comments about it? Please leave them below and Liz and I will be happy to answer.
Liz Broomfield has been there, done that and written the book! Starting her editing and localisation business in 2009, she finally took the full-time plunge in December 2011, and has recently published a book all about surviving her first year in full-time self-employment.
Liz’s book on Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Going-Alone-Full-Time-Self-Employment-ebook/dp/B00CBEUSXM/
Book web page with links to worldwide Amazon sites: http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/e-book-going-it-alone-at-40/
Liz’s professional blog – small business, language and Word tips: http://www.libroediting.com/
Liz’s personal blog – self-employment, reading and writing: http://librofulltime.wordpress.com/
On Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Lyzzybee_Libro
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/libroediting