Being self-employed and successful are two very difficult things. But how do so many others manage to achieve and thrive in both?
I’ve observed and researched a number of people who fit the bill. Below are just some of the factors that affect how they manage to handle both with flair.
1. Time is more valuable than money.
In essence, there are only three things we can spend in life: money, time and energy.
The biggest caveat, however, is only money can be earned. The rest are just plainly lost in the process.
That’s why it’s so important to be more stingy with your time than your money.
You will need to say no more than you say yes.
Most people think, in order to be productive, they should work tons of hours each week. But studies have shown that 35 is the special number.
If you're only working 35 hours a week, it's hard to make time for office chat and wasted meetings. It's important to avoid time sucks and to spend your time in the office focused on your priorities.
Some of the most serial time-wasters are people who take bits and pieces of your time, which is quite significant in total once you add everything together. Some want to have incessant meetings with you, some want you to speak at their event and some just want your take on anything and everything.
While there is value in helping out and lending your time to others, this shouldn’t be taking up the bulk of your day. Your time is best spent on the crucial things that give meaning and purpose to your life.
If you’re one of those people who find it a tad too hard to say no, here’s an email template on how you can reject coffee meetings nicely:
Dear [name of recipient], Thank you for the coffee meeting invite. Unfortunately, that might not be likely in the foreseeable future. For me to be able to fulfill my other existing commitments, it’s not possible for me to take on all invitations, even worthy ones such as yours. However, if I can answer any of your concerns through a short email reply, let me know and I’ll gladly do it for you. Kind regards, [Your name]
2. The more you learn, the more you earn.
Constant education is the hallmark of successful people. Thinking you already know everything is a surefire way to stagnation and complacency.
Keeping up with the times and taking the opportunity to learn anything can transform how you generate and realize your ideas.
Simply put, it’s the secret sauce to staying competitive.
Learning has many benefits. It allows you to become better skilled and more able to work with complex problems as they arise. It broadens your skill set, and it enables you to tackle things you previously wouldn't have been able to handle.
Since every business is filled with competition, you must always have an edge in order to stand out from the rest of the pack.
What better way to do this than to take up new capabilities along the way?
In the advent of today’s technology, the body of knowledge available in different fields is always changing and being updated, so the best recourse to keep up with the times is to learn.
This also serves as a way for you to revalidate your competence in your field.
A study on corporate learning revealed high performing individuals in business don’t necessarily have fancy degrees because many jobs require experiential knowledge.
Moreover, those who are motivated and know how to learn also regularly outperform their peers.
In this light, Jim Rohn said it best:
Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.
3. You can't be successful without defining success.
It’s quite frustrating how so many people have reached out to me, asking how to be successful without actually defining it for themselves first.
Success can be a lot of things. For some, it could be earning a lot of money or working at their dream jobs. The list goes on and on, depending on who you are as a person.
Personally, I define success as being able to wake up in the morning, go to sleep at night and do whatever I want in-between. Simply put, success for me is having the freedom and autonomy to spend my time as I see fit.
Of course, it might be completely different from what a mother of two views as success, or what an 18-year-old yearns for. That's okay.
But it's important you know what success is to you. The important thing is to be specific.
Being successful is a process, and in every endeavor you set out to do, you need to be able to know why you’re doing it in the first place.
This gives you direction, and it guarantees you’re less likely to deviate too much from the goal you’re targeting.
In self-employment, success and failure all comes down to you. It’s not something you can work on from bottom to top, like in traditional jobs.
Since you’re working for yourself, your success is dependent on your abilities and how you implement them.