By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer
Canada is overwhelmingly a country of employees. People in jobs make up 85% of our workforce. That leaves just 15% (a little over 2 ½ million people) who describe themselves as self-employed.
Why doesn’t everyone else just quit their job and start their own gig? Maybe because the reality of being your own boss is that…you aren’t. Entrepreneurs
, contract employees
all need paying customers. Each customer becomes, in effect, one of your bosses.
There’s also a tendency toward feast or famine: one day you’re panicking that you won’t have money for rent, the next you have so much business it overwhelms you. Top it off with the long hours usually needed when starting up, and you can see why it appeals mainly to certain types.
10 Traits Of The Successfully Self-Employed
Could you be among the 15% who are suited to creating their own job? Check out the 10 common traits of the self-employed below. You might be well-matched if you have…
1. A Stomach For Risk
Business failure statistics show that about 96% of small businesses (1–99 employees) which enter the marketplace survive for one full year, 85% survive for three years and 70 percent survive for five years (Key Small Business Statistics - January 2009, Industry Canada). Can you sleep at night knowing that your start-up might not make it?
Company employees may rely on support staff to take care of details. As an entrepreneur, you’ll typically start out as a “solopreneur,” meaning you will be on your own for a while. You will end up wearing many hats, including secretary
, bookkeeper, salesperson
and so on, especially at first.
New ventures rarely bloom overnight. It will likely take many months, possibly several years, before your efforts bear fruit. Do you have a short attention span and demand immediate results? If so, or if you’re looking to make a quick buck, you may want to shy away from self-employment.
A sales lead you’ve pursued suddenly hits a brick wall. You’ve applied for business loans a dozen times and been refused. Do you give up easily? The successfully self-employed do not. Like other people they may, of course, get discouraged. But they are driven enough from within to keep going despite the obstacles. Does this describe you?
Speaking of obstacles, problem-solving skills are imperative for the self-employed. Unlike in a job, you may not have people around to brainstorm with. It can fall solely on you to develop solutions to all sorts of everyday challenges. Thinking outside the box – and a willingness to try new ideas – are the hallmarks of entrepreneurs.
6. Financial Sense
Cash flow is the lifeblood of a start-up. Later on it makes the difference between profit and loss. How good are you with money? If it spills from your fingers and you can’t keep track of it, your venture will slide toward collapse. Fortunately you can learn proper methods of budgeting. Hint: start with your household finances first for practice.
7. Financial Discipline
Along with financial sense comes the necessity of reigning in excess spending and impulse purchases. Successful self-employment can mean starving yourself of unnecessary buying while you feed the business. Otherwise you risk not being able to pay your bills if cash flow is interrupted by unforeseen events. Also you may, or may not, earn as much
as in a regular job.
One of your responsibilities as founder and head of your company is deciding where your business should go. That requires vision. Without it, your boat will be lost at sea. Are you the type of person who can look ahead and can see the big picture?
9. Keenness For Marketing
Promoting your business. Making sales. Marketing
to specific customer groups. That’s what building a thriving enterprise is all about. Are you reluctant to ask for the sale? Do you feel guilty charging what you’re worth? Many people do, particularly if doesn’t come naturally. You can cultivate these skills over time. But you’ll have to quickly overcome reluctance to selling.
The self-employed need to make bold decisions and live with the results. They should have confidence in their ability to make things happen when others are being naysayers. And they must ultimately accept blame for failures. Do you have this sort of independent streak?
If You Do Decide To Start A New Venture
One of the most helpful elements when getting started is a solid network of contacts. You will want to have connections to a variety of professionals who could be of assistance to you. Also you may want to hire employees or freelancers. (Or if you would prefer to be a contract employee or freelancer yourself, Monster.ca has
plenty of posting for you right now.)
This is where the free BeKnown app from Monster shines. It turns Facebook into your professional networking hub. It isn’t limited to your social Friends, so you can invite just about anyone you want. Then ask for advice from your network, and find the talent you’ll need to make your new venture grow. Self-employment doesn’t mean you have to do it all by yourself.