man and woman discussing working for yourself

By Bond Collective Staff

If you’re considering making the leap from the corporate 9-to-5 to working for yourself, go for it. With the right mindset, a bit of preparation, and your eyes wide open to the realities of the business world, there are few things better than becoming a freelancer, digital nomad, or entrepreneur.

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know before you start working for yourself so you’re ready for the change ahead.

15 Tips And Things To Know Before Working For Yourself

1) A Business Is Different Than A Job

Man packing up a box

A business is a form of employment that you can step away from for a few hours, a few days, or even a few months and it will still run and make money. A job is a form of employment that won’t run nor make money if you step away for a few hours or days.

The distinction may seem subtle at first — it’s the difference between a freelancer working alone and an entrepreneur building a team — but it makes a substantial impact on the way you work five, 10, or 15 years down the road.

2) Manners Still Play A Crucial Role

A significant part of business in the 21st century is presentation. When working for yourself, you are the face of the company.

That’s why it’s crucial that you’re always on your best behavior. Say please and thank you. Dress and act the way you want others to perceive you. And always be polite...even when others aren’t.

3) Higher Education Isn’t A Guarantee For Success

Too many people put too much stock in the myth that graduating from a big-name college or university is the be-all and end-all of the business world.

When working for yourself, it doesn’t matter if you attended an Ivy League school, a local community college, or no school at all. What really matters is your willingness to learn and your commitment to work hard.

4) Communication Skills Matter

Communication — be it in-person, on the printed page, or over the internet — is a huge part of any business. And in communication (regardless of form or function), grammar, spelling, syntax, and those other basics you learned in high-school English do matter a great deal.

But don’t be discouraged if you can’t speak a sentence without injecting “like” after every other word, or if you can’t tell the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Put in the effort to learn and practice, and the way you speak and write will improve.

5) It Takes Time To Build A Business

Hourglass situated on stones

Businesses don’t just pop up overnight, no matter how much experience you have. It takes time to build a successful business from the ground up — sometimes years or even decades. Set your view on the long game going in, and you’ll be prepared for the task ahead.

6) Focus On The Big Picture Without Neglecting The Details

Too often when working for yourself, it’s easy to focus on the big picture (growing your business) but neglect the small details that make it possible.

Think of the details — like where you want your team to work, your brand, your professional image, and the quality of your product or service — as the foundation on which you will build your business as a whole (the big picture).

7) Networking Is Vital

Isolation makes working for yourself much more difficult. Networking keeps you in touch with other like-minded entrepreneurs and can even generate business for your startup.

If you’re just starting out, consider basing your daily activities at a coworking space like Bond Collective. There you’ll be surrounded by other go-getters — many of them working for themselves — who will be only too happy to share ideas and inspire you along the way.

8) Put On A Happy Face

As the sole representative of your business, you want to be as approachable as possible. Whether you’re IMing, emailing, Skyping, talking on the phone, or meeting in person, put on a happy face so that clients, investors, and potential team members see you as a confident, agreeable person.

9) Set Your Work Hours And Stick To Them

One of the hardest things to do when working for yourself is to set your work hours and stick to them. If you fail at either aspect (setting work hours OR sticking to them), you’ll find yourself overworked, disengaged, unproductive. That’s no way to run a business.

10) Clean Up Your Social Media Footprint

Cell phone and laptop on a glass table

Investors and clients are looking for serious professionals to work with. And, without a doubt, one of the first things they’ll do is search your name to see what social media reveals.

If most of your tweets are laden with profanity and your Facebook wall contains more than one or two pictures of you doing shots, it’s time to clean up your image.

11) Be Prepared To Do It All

As the sole entrepreneur in your new “working for yourself” endeavor, you’re going to wear many hats. Be warned. You — and you alone — are now responsible for bookkeeping, taxes, marketing, research, customer service, and everything else necessary to keep your business running smoothly.

12) Weigh The Risks And Rewards First

Not every startup is successful. Some businesses don’t last a year. But when they are and when they do, the rewards can be significant.

Can you, your bank account, and your family handle the risks without the rewards? If not, you may be better off holding on to your day job.

13) Avoid Taking On Too Much Work

When you first start working for yourself, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll take on too much work. But, over time, it becomes a very real possibility.

If you can’t seem to get enough done within the work hours you set for yourself, it might be time to reevaluate your workload. If you don’t, the quality of your work will suffer, clients will notice, and your business will suffer.

14) It’s OK To Charge What You’re Worth

Though you may at first have to charge less than you’re worth just to get things going, don’t wait too long to increase your rates.

One entrepreneur started his writing business by proofreading for pennies on the dollar. He did great work, got rave reviews, and continued raising his rates until he was making significantly more than he ever had before.

15) The Grass Isn’t Always Greener Where You Came From

Busy highway leading into and out of city

When working for yourself is going great, it’s easy to revel in all the benefits you enjoy. But when your business takes a turn for the worse and the going gets tough, it’s even easier to look back on your old job with nostalgia. Maybe you should abandon it all and return to the security of a steady paycheck.

When doubt strikes, remember that the grass isn’t always greener where you came from. If you were back in your regular 9-to-5 job (tied to a desk for eight hours a day sandwiched between a grueling commute), you’d probably be imagining where you are right now (working for yourself) and thinking how great that would be.

If you find yourself contemplating the path behind you, remind yourself of all the benefits you’re enjoying working for yourself and why you went this direction in the first place.

Work Environment Plays A Critical Role In Success

Entrance to coworking building

When you first start working for yourself, a laptop and the kitchen table are all you need. Eventually, though, you’re going to outgrow that space. But a new freelancer, digital nomad, or entrepreneur likely can’t afford a conventional business lease.

The next best step in working for yourself is moving from the kitchen table to a coworking space like Bond Collective. At Bond Collective, you can take advantage of hot desks, dedicated desks, private offices, and conference rooms to suit all your business needs. All with amazing amenities, such as:

  • 24-hour access

  • Insanely fast WiFi

  • Daily on-site cleaning

  • Private label mail service

  • Concession food market

  • Guest reception & greeting

  • Black-and-white printing

  • Rooftop lounge

  • Photo & sound studio (Gowanus only)

  • Private meeting and phone booths

Professionals working at a shared office space

Best of all, Bond Collective grows with your business. You can expand or contract your workspace footprint as the needs of your startup dictate. That’s smart business sense whether you’re a team of one or 100.

Visit our gorgeous office spaces in New York (Bushwick, 55 Broadway, 60 Broad, Gowanus, Flatiron) and Philadelphia (Station House) to experience the best that luxury office environments have to offer. And to learn more about the advantages of coworking spaces for digital nomads, remote workers, and businesses of all kinds, visit today.