Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cultivating Strengths, Nurturing Skills

If you really want to freak yourself out about your ability to create a self-employed life for yourself, read a lot of advice from experts about the skills required. For instance, according to Texas A & M University's Dr. Pam Brown, it takes:

- Entrepreneurship: "You've got to have the drive, that risk-taking attitude."

- Managerial skills: "What do you know about planning, marketing, financing?"

- Technical skills: "This is usually what people are passionate about," such as that love of cooking.

- Support: "How does it fit in with how your family operates, your family management style? Will your family accept" the new business?

You also have to consider, she says:

- You will not have benefits, such as medical insurance, paid vacations or retirement plans, unless you establish them yourself. "Nobody else is going to do it but you," Brown said.

- Networking with others is vital. "Establish a network you want to be in," she said, with professionals and others whose expertise you value.

- Motivation is also of vital importance. "You need internal motivation to keep you going or it's not going to work," Brown said.

- And, she added, "You have to plan ahead."

Skills, drive, motivation – all are required for a successful home-based business.

Now, it's not that any of this is false. It's all true. All that stuff--invoicing, insurance, passion, long hours, etc.--is absolutely a part of self-employment.

But let's face it. Almost none of us were born with this. The good news is you don't have to be. What you do have to do is tackle each of these skills one at a time.

It starts, like so much else about the self-employment learning curve, with awareness. Ask yourself first and foremost: What are your skills?

This question is deceptively simple. See, you may know the nuts and bolts of the creative side of the business, but I bet a bunch of those skills can be applied to the admin, marketing and entrepreneurship side of the job as well.

For instance, if you're a writer, you probably have some kind of organizational system. It may be strewn across your desk at this very moment, but it's there. How can you apply it to keeping track of when checks are due?

Or, if you're a creative person, how can you let your imagination rip when it comes to marketing? It can be a creative exercise; it doesn't have to be an exercise in selling people things they don't want.

So for today, make a list of all those things you do well in your job and look at how they apply to the less fun parts of self-employment. What comes up for you?

No comments: