A big part of this No Vacation Required life we developed centers around our ability to work from anywhere. Really, though, it wasn't too long ago (well, I guess a decade is a long time ago). that we were only dreaming of leaving corporate jobs and taking our entire world on the road.
The biggest obstacle? Figuring out how in the hell we could make it a reality back when it was only a dream.
And many people, understandably, have the same dream. After our post detailing the qualities of someone who has the foundation for successful self employment, we got a lot of e-mails. Additionally, it's one of the topics we're most asked about when we meet people.
In this post, let's assume you've read that last post and you've determined that you can hack self employment. What's next? How do you succeed out on your own?
A lot of people ask us how we do it; they want the best tips for making it on their own in business for the long haul. It's difficult to summarize something like this because success (in any arena) is a complicated, highly individualized thing. Plus, it took us some time to figure it out, so we didn't want to blindly jabber about something before wrapping our own arms around it.
Since this new chapter of NVR is about getting more advice-y, here are our thoughts on succeeding with your own business.
1: You have to be (and remain) well-rounded and committed.
This one really ties back to that initial post on whether or not you should even be considering striking out on your own. Your "fitness" for self employment really does bleed over into actual self employment because remaining in the right headspace and maintaining the required foundational attributes is no small task.
It's about avoiding burn out. We've seen many of our perfectly equipped self-employed peers Peace Out due to inability to sustain the required foundational competencies.
Honestly, it's by far the easiest of the three tips we're providing. Striking out on your own, you have to work a lot and do many things that are about keeping up the business. We won the "luck" lottery in this regard because we're both incredibly tenacious and agile workers. Plus, between the two of us, we know about a lot of things: marketing, operations, finance, accounting, sales, service, etc. Also, having an MBA in the mix helps :)
So, again, our ability to conquer #1 set the foundation for success. We wanted to be able to work from anywhere. We can, and we do.
2. You have to make and keep yourself relevant.
One of the reasons these "be your best self" how-to posts are murder for us to write is because our consulting specialty is helping businesses (and individuals) make smart next steps. We help them to optimize talent and initiatives so that they thrive. Writing a post like this feels like trying to cram a book's worth of information into 1000 words.
The point in sharing that? We know exactly what we're good at and the value we add. You have to know what you're meant to be doing (a completely different book), AND you have to know how to differentiate yourself. Strengths are precise.
There are likely thousands and thousands of people who are skilled at the basics of what you, too, are also good at. That's not good enough in the self-employment world. You have to work harder and go deeper than skills that make you part of the pack. You have to have a skill set that distinguishes you from the competition.
3. You have to be disruptive.
This is even more of a challenge. Beyond making yourself relevant – deeply knowing the niche you can address – you have to be an ideas person. And not simply generic ideas – disruptive ideas. You need to be a big thinker; you need to be someone who can take compelling ideas to the next level.
You'd be amazed at the lack of creativity we see. A little tip from our work as consultants: When people lack creativity, it's often a sure sign that #2 is out of whack. So, when we're consulting with work groups, we know that a person might not be in the right pocket if they have a distinct lack of creative ability. Creativity tends to flourish when you're in your sweet spot.
Think about areas in which you have a lot of ideas; areas that you catch your mind constantly wandering to; areas where you think "they should do it this way." Those thoughts are guideposts pointing you toward where you should be putting your talent to work. And potentially striking out on your own.
As most everything in life does does, it all boils down to knowing yourself deeply and constantly chipping away at growing that knowledge base.