Welcome to this first module, setting out the structure of the programme, explaining what the key elements to becoming self employed are and assessing your behavioural readiness to successfully become self employed

The modular programme will provide advice and guidance to enable you to pursue the two main self employment options or a combination of them, namely

  • Selling your time

  • Typically being paid a time based rate or a fixed fee

  • Usually for you to complete tasks, projects or assignments

  • Normally on an invoiced, interim or contract basis

  • Starting a business

  • Generally selling products, services and other people’s time

  • Commonly as a sole trader, limited company or partnership

  • Often with a view to building value to eventually realise

Tackle the modules in bite size chunks, don’t feel that you have to do everything in one go

To gain the most benefit from the information provided, it is important that you read and digest each section before moving on

Each module includes ‘Activities’ for you to complete, please give yourself plenty of time to undertake them and take on board the key learning points

Allow plenty of time to reflect on, internalise and apply the key messages and suggestions

Share your thoughts and feelings with the people you trust and respect to help you and don’t bottle things up

This first module will enable you to

  • Appreciate the programme structure around the two main self employment options

  • Consider the pros and cons and the psychology of being self employed

  • Understand and proactively manage your transition to self employment

  • Recognise and enhance three key attributes for sustained self employed success

  • Motivation – being internally driven to make it happen and keep it happening

  • Resilience – being able to bounce back from any and all adversities over time

  • Courage – being willing to press on again and again despite any fears

  • Assess and consider what you need to do to improve your behavioural readiness and robustness to become successfully and happily self employed

As we have seen, there are two main self employment options

The two streams of modules related to the two options we will be looking at are

Selling your time

Module 2 - Preparing Yourself

Module 3 - Selling Yourself

Module 4 - Marketing Yourself

Starting a business

Module 5 - Business Planning

Module 6 - Business Marketing

Module 7 - Business Mechanics

Having said there are two streams, elements of both streams may be relevant to you

It just depends on what your chosen self employment route looks like and what you need

Let's start by considering the pros and cons and the psychology of being self employed

Key ‘pros’ of self employment include

  • Control of what you do and how you do it

  • Power over quality and delivery decisions

  • Personal pride in creating a value adding enterprise

  • Potential to realise capital value on exit

  • Opportunity to generate employment for others

  • Some (albeit diminishing) tax advantages

Key ‘cons’ of self employment include

 

  • Uncertainty of timing and level of income 

  • Never knowing if the work will dry up completely

  • The only infrastructure is what you put in place

  • Loneliness, especially if working from home

  • An initial injection of capital may be needed

  • New skills may be needed e.g. selling/marketing/financial/IT etc

  • Getting the work/life balance right may be challenging

Your psychological contract is about your work expectations and aspirations

A healthy psychological contract is defined by what is appropriate for you

 

 

There are no rights or wrongs – only what does or doesn’t work for you

 

 

Some common aspects of a self employed psychological contract to consider include

 

 

  • You are in complete control of what you think, decide, say and do

  • Things will only happen if you personally do them or make them happen

  • As long as you are making money, you can do whatever you legally like

  • If you delight the 'customer' and they pay your bill, you can step away

  • Your brand reputation is only as good as your next piece of delivery

  • Once domestic costs are covered, you can work as many hours as you like

Moving from being employed to being self employed is a huge change

Whenever we experience significant change, we also experience personal transition

Change is the external event, transition is our internal response to it

Change is what happens to you, transition is what you then experience

Transition is an individual journey unique to you, involving up to seven stages

Although you have decided to become self employed, you can still ‘wish and yearn’ for what was previously ‘familiar and safe’ at work

Realising what it is you need to do to become successfully self employed will enable you to start to take control and make things happen

Treating every experience as a learning opportunity enables you to constantly improve, it also enables you to recognise that unpleasant experiences are only bad ones if you don’t learn from them

Fully understanding what the

challenges of being self employed are and becoming comfortable that you can cope with them

Even though you have chosen to become self employed, you can still feel ‘surprise and amazement’ when it actually starts happening for you

As you pursue self employment, you will feel both positive and negative emotions at different stages in the process

You feel motivated and energised to start making things happen

The seven stages are not chronological, you can jump around over time

It is OK to be at any stage, it is not OK to get stuck in the 'blue' stages

Are you feeling truly passionate about becoming self employed or just doing it because you have to?

Recognising, accepting and learning from mistakes can be incredibly valuable and liberating, not doing so will mean you keep making the same mistakes

Resilience isn’t about blind optimism, quite the opposite, it is about being realistic and  recognising what needs to be done

The remaining modules in this programme after this module focus on identifying and building your readiness across a range of key tangible abilities you will need to become successfully self employed

However, before we start looking at them, first, we are going to look at the sets of key intangible or behavioural attributes that are crucially important to being happily and positively self employed that you will need to have on a sustained basis to succeed 

Being self employed can involve both pressure and stress, the difference between the two being your sense of control, the more in control you feel of any pressures you have, the less stress you will tend to feel

Lets have a look now at three of the most important behavioural attributes that will enable you to be and feel in control and assess how ready you are for a self employed career

Motivation – if you are not truly 'up for it' then becoming self employed may prove very challenging for you, self employment demands even more motivation than being employed

  • Energy, enthusiasm and engagement levels

  • Self starter drive and strength of imperatives

  • Emotional commitment to being self employed

Courage – fear (e.g. of failure, rejection etc.) is a natural reaction, becoming self employed can feel understandably daunting, so you need to

  • Ensure that your fears don’t drive your behaviour

  • Be prepared to be brave and to take control

  • Show openness and not be defensive

Resilience – inevitably, self employment will involve some disappointments and knock backs, so you need to bounce back and learn, resilience is about being prepared to

  • Learn and grow from challenges and adversity

  • Build your capacity to bounce back and recover

  • Be realistic, positive and practical

Nobody or nothing else on the planet can make you internally motivated – only you can do it

To become successfully self employed you have to ‘want it’, you need to be ‘up for it’

Specifically, being internally motivated is key to self employment because it means that you

  • Want to do it for 'you and yours', not for anybody or anything else

  • Are ahead of your competitors, who may only be externally motivated

  • Will be driven 'from within' rather than by any external factors or forces

  • Will have lots of energy and enthusiasm to find and delight your 'customers'

  • Are emotionally committed and have an imperative to succeed

Motivators   

  • Underpin our actions, they are sometimes called our 'critical needs’

  • Often reflect and influence important decisions we make

  • Are closely linked to feelings of personal satisfaction and enjoyment

  • Offer solid criteria for making business and delivery decisions

  • Can be quite difficult to pin down as they are so ingrained in us

  • Tend to just ‘be there’ and not in our conscious awareness

Below is a list of some of the most frequent personal and business related motivators

The list doesn't contain all of them by any means, there are lots more!

Being able to recover and learn from 'knock backs' is an essential self employed attribute 

Resilience has variously been defined as our

  • Ability to bounce back from difficulties

  • Recovery powers from negative experiences

  • Attitude of mind to be both realistic and positive

  • Capacity to adapt and respond to challenging events

  • Aptitude to manage significant pressure without stress

  • 'Triumphing in the face of adversity'

Resilience is crucial to successful self employment because you

  • Inevitably, will face difficulties, some things will go wrong as well as right

  • Won’t have fellow employees to support you through the rough times

  • Will learn a lot from your mistakes, provided you are open and keep going

  • Need to be more resilient than your competitors to ‘out-survive’ them

During adversity we focus on external reasons and external solutions

The adversity is a fact, but we can change how we respond to it

Building resilience involves looking within to changes our thinking responses and actions

 

Specifically, resilience is about

 

  • Learning

  • Treating every adversity as a learning experience

  • Realising ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us grow stronger'

  • Feeling

  • Being able to emotionally 'bounce back' undamaged

  • Maintaining or enhancing self-awareness and self-esteem

  • Thinking

  • Have 'high frustration tolerance' - not being easily wound up

  • Being open, flexible and pragmatic – a good problem solver

Some of the common attributes associated with resilient people include being able to

  • Welcome change willingly, flexibly and openly

  • Have a positive mental attitude and determination

  • Learn and grow from failure, not fearing it

  • 'Cut their losses' and move on positively

  • React with pragmatism and realism

  • Realise the battles they can and can’t win

  • Maintain strong self-esteem and self-confidence

  • ‘Reinvent' themselves in changing circumstances

The ABC technique is an established model to build your resilience

 

  • Adversity – the negative challenge or problem you are facing

  • Belief – the tape in your mind that determines your reaction

  • Consequence – the result or outcome of your reaction

You can’t do anything about 'A' – the Adversity – it has already happened

But you can do something about 'B' – your Belief – you can choose to change it

Changing 'B' enables 'C' to change – the Consequence – with a new potential outcome

The principle can be usefully illustrated by the following diagram

The original belief has resulted in the original consequence that happened

However, by changing the original belief next time, you enable a different consequence

Consider the following scenario

 

  • Adversity – you receive a rejection email following a sales meeting

 

 

  • Belief – you believe you embarrassed yourself and won’t seek feedback

 

 

  • Consequence – you fail to learn and repeat the same mistake at future interviews

Now consider the following alternative scenario

  • Adversity – next time you receive a rejection email following a sales meeting

  • Belief – your new belief is 'this is a learning opportunity' and you seek feedback

  • Consequence – you discover info that significantly improves your responses

Deciding to become self employed takes courage  making it happen takes even more

One dictionary definition of courage is 'the ability to do something that frightens one’

 

 

Another definition is ‘the ability to control your fear in a dangerous or difficult situation’

 

 

A third one is ‘to do something difficult or dangerous, even though you may be afraid’

 

 

So courage isn’t about not being afraid but, rather, the ability to manage your fears

 

In particular, self employed courage is about the ability to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’

The most common fears around being self employed (but there are lots more) include

Fear of rejection

Fear of ridicule

Fear of change

Fear of losing ……

Fear of uncertainty

Fear of looking undignified

Fear of reduced self-respect

Fear of being demotivated

Fear of making mistakes

Fear of embarrassment

Fear of blame

Fear of failure

Being courageous often involves being open, non-defensive and prepared to fail

Most  successful entrepreneur have stories of business failures before becoming rich

They embraced and managed their fear of failure as part of becoming successful

Another common trait being their ability to learn and resiliently bounce back

More on resilience in the next section – for now, let’s focus on courage

Our fears can be very powerful and influential in what we do, say and think

Courageously overcoming our fear(s) can be incredibly empowering and liberating

Let's look at why it is so difficult to overcome our fears and what can we do about them

When we feel fearful our brain tells our body to produce adrenaline

 

It is a perfectly natural, normal and safe auto reaction that you can’t stop

It is your brain’s primeval way of preparing your body for ‘fight or flight’

Although you can’t stop it, you can manage and harness your response to it

In self employed terms, you need to ‘fight’ a campaign, not take ‘flight’ from it

Successful self employment involves feeling the fear and still make the campaign happen

Our response to a fear related adrenaline rush can be managed via two dimensions

Namely, our response to fear consists of our feeling response and our thinking response

Our feeling response to fear or an adversity or challenge can be either positive or negative

Similarly, our thinking response to the same adversity can be either positive or negative

 

 

Our positive or negative feeling and thinking responses drive our subsequent behaviour

AMBIVALENT

ENTHUSIAST

TRAPPED

CAPTIVE

KEEN

ACHIEVER

ANXIOUS

DOER

Emotionally, you can feel ready to face the fear, but your negative thinking can make you unsure and hesitant to do anything about it

This model will help you to identify and manage your feeling and thinking responses

The fear can make you both feel and think negatively with seemingly no way out, with your decision making frozen - like a nocturnal rabbit caught in bright car headlights

Because you are positively managing and harnessing your fear at both levels, your courage enables you to make things happen and enjoy doing them

You know it is the right thing to do, so you do it, but you may feel stressed and nervous while doing it

Lets look more closely at our feeling and thinking responses and how we can manage them

The adrenaline fear generates makes you feel anxious and uneasy or perhaps worried

 

 

Naturally, your brain attributes the sensation to the fear that generated it

 

 

However, the same adrenaline is generated when you are excited or enthusiastic

 

 

Bungee jumping generates adrenaline, sometimes even just the thought of doing it 

 

 

Some view bungee jumping as exciting, others see it as a fearful activity to be avoided

 

 

It's simply a matter of how your brain works and how you interpret the adrenaline rush

 

 

So you need to retrain yourself to attribute the feeling adrenaline gives you differently

 

 

In essence, you need to change your attribution, something like this for example

Original attribution

The adrenaline is making me feel fearful or anxious

New attribution

The adrenaline is making me feel excited and enthusiastic

When you experience an adversity or something you fear

 

  • Your thinking response is driven by one underlying thought – ‘I can’t handle it’

 

  • If your driving thought was ‘I can handle it’, then you wouldn’t think it was fearful

Either way, the thought is rooted in your level of belief or trust in your own abilities

Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, famously summed it up

  • ‘Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you're probably right’

So the solution to thinking less fearfully is in having more belief and trust in your abilities 

It is about truly believing that you are ‘good enough’ to deal with the adversity or fear

That is very easy thing to say, but much more challenging to actually make happen

Below are a couple of techniques to help you to build your belief in your ability to cope

Use either or both, whatever works best for you and for the adversity or fear you’re facing

Technique 1 – keep repeating one of the mantras below or another of your choice

  • ‘I know I can do this’

  • ‘Doing it will get rid of the fear’

  • ‘I will feel better about myself if I do it’

  • ‘Doing it is less scary than living with the fear’

  • ‘If I do it I will be in control of my fear and situation’

  • ‘I can handle this’

Technique 2 – redefining how you measure success and failure by truly accepting that

  • ‘I’m not a failure if it didn’t work, I’m a success for trying’

  • ‘Failing is just part of my journey to get to where I want to be’

  • ‘Failing is painful, but I can handle it to achieve my goals’

This module has

  • Set out the framework of subsequent modules for the two main self employment routes

  • Examined the pros and cons and the psychology of being self employed

  • Talked through how to manage your transition to becoming self employed

  • Explained and shown how to improve your motivation, resilience and courage

  • Enabled you to assess and consider how ready you are to become self employed

  • Provided you with key tools and techniques to improve your self employed readiness

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