There is a whole host of information on this site to help fill in the knowledge gaps needed to grow a business e.g. how to network, manage your time, etc. But what about the factors of being a business owner that are much less talked about? On our LinkedIn and Facebook Groups, we asked "What is the secret no one tells you about going self employed?" and here are just some of the answers:
"I guess it works differently for different self employed folk as it all depends upon the work you do and the commitments you have. However, from my perspective be prepared for having to do everything or at least have idea how everything works promoting your business. I can hear Ann saying "you can't do everything" of course that is right but sometimes its good to try something that is out of your comfort zone." - David Dean, Bright Sparks Coaching
"You won't know what to do. Much more often than you think, you'll find yourself having to make decisions, when you have absolutely no idea what to do. As soon as you are through with your initial plan, if you get there, of course, you'll have to come up with next steps (ideally, long before that, but it rarely happens). You'll have no boss to ask what to do. Your external advisors will never have the same amount of information and will never bear the same responsibility for the results. It will be only you who will have to decide.
I often remember a moment in Kung Fu Panda 2, when the protagonist has freed his friends, they are fighting their way back, but there are enemies all around them, and someone asks the panda: What's the plan? He says, Okay, Step One: Free the Five. - What's Step Two? - Honestly, I didn't think I was gonna make it this far!" - Alexey Manichenko, Skylark Learning
"You'll be lonely. The feeling of being lonely is in part because I have nobody to talk to socially, and in part because I have nobody to ask questions of. When I'm actually working, it goes away, but in the down time not only do I have to deal with the fact I don't have co-workers to interact with, I also question myself. Why am I not working?
In general, I deal with it by taking breaks with people in, or by making myself be in a work environment which has others in. The CBL is that sort of place. So is my studio, although that hasn't always been the case. So is Makespace, a wide-access workshop.
Bad ways of doing it are to throw myself into projects with other people, and to back away from working for too long. I can recognise both of those things in myself, but it took time, and experience. Combat is probably the wrong word. Understanding why made me work through it, and gave me a much more satisfying day job." - Diana Probst, Cambridge Artist
"The two biggest pains about solo employment - strictly, I'm not self-employed as I work through a company - for me are:
(1) The admin burden. I'm not just talking about accounts here: there's way too much legislative crap that government loads upon us. It's simply not designed or streamlined for solo operation, and the so-called SME or self-employment czars that governments occasionally appoint seem to be powerless to help.
(2) The insecurity, at least until you've got a constant flow of business, something most solo operators can only dream of.
But the big take-away is ... freedom. Being able to decide your own agenda and calendar. Being able to pick and choose the work you do, and the clients or customers you do it for. Having your own, personal workspace - whether it's at home or in a shared space. Being able to say, "Hang it all, I'm turning off the mobile - I'll be in the bath for the next hour with a good book." Having a lot more influence with your client than you would as an employee - let's face it, paying that much extra gets their attention, and having the depth of experience to be a consultant gets their respect. The money's OK, too." - Jon Green, Embedded Software Consultant