I’m covering some of the more unexpected aspects of working for yourself. I want to cover a lot of the questions I get around timescales and sort of levels of success.
Success is a very broad blanket phrase, what success looks like for one person will vary greatly to another and it’s important that you define what it looks like for you. As I said in a previous post, for many self employed people a real and attainable goal is making enough money to live. It’s not a very glamorous goal, but it’s realistic. Entrepreneurs are often praised for their big dreams and big ambitions, but good things come slowly. One mistake I often see people making is expanding far too quickly.
People often ask me for timescales for success. I can’t really say there is such a thing but in general I would say.
First 6 months: You should get your first couple of new clients (who you weren’t connected to) I would expect at this point you will most probably have redefined your service, your website and your approach to reflect, your website and your approach to reflect your new experience.
1-2 years: In the first two years I would have imagined you will make a small profit. In many ways you will probably feel as if you are doing better than you expected. This can often be a false realisation. At this stage you may not have become sustainable and work may still be hap-hazard.
3-4 years: It’s normally in this period that you’ll establish yourself properly. You’ll have learnt all of the hard lessons that come with working for yourself, and you should be a more confident in yourself. You should have stopped the cycle of feast and famine at this point.
5-10 years: Once you have a sustainable business where you can be assured of a regular income, it’s normally at this point that you will consider expanding and take on staff etc. For a lot of sectors you’ll obviously need a team to begin with.
There really aren’t ‘levels’ of success. You don’t suddenly go from small clients to big ones. It takes time and a recommitment to getting the basics right and over time you will be successful. Don’t forget though that everyday a business quietly goes bust. Don’t spend too long chasing tomorrow’s dreams whilst ignoring today’s issues.