There’s a misconception that being your own boss is all sunshine and rainbows, that self-employed people sail through the days without having a superior to report to. It’s true that when you work for yourself you don’t have to deal with a manager looking over your shoulder and demanding progress reports, but there are downsides to being your own boss too.
When I attended a business development course specifically aimed at self-employed people, the trainer used a phrase that stuck with me: “Do you work for yourself, and is your boss a nightmare?” She explained that many freelancers and contractors treat themselves badly, either by overworking, not taking enough holidays, or not rewarding themselves when things went well. Basically, they were bad bosses!
So how can you love your boss when you work for yourself?
Motivate with a carrot, not a stick
A good boss motivates their workers by being positive, acknowledging hard work and encouraging ambition. You can do the same when you work for yourself – take a few minutes every week to think about what’s gone well, promote your wins on social media and shout about your successes.
Give yourself a holiday allowance, and take it!
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my first years of freelancing was not taking enough holiday. I was so worried about missing out on work and payments that I only took a couple of weeks off a year. But a good boss knows that their workers need time off to relax and recharge their batteries, so now I actually plan time off throughout the year, not just in the summer.
Encourage a good work/life balance
The best bosses don’t expect you to answer emails in the middle of the night, so don’t put these expectations on yourself either. Set firm boundaries between your work life and personal life – this is even more important when you work from home. Being available 24/7 will only lead to burn out and is no good for you or your clients.
Know the value of continual learning
A good boss will encourage their workers to keep learning and training throughout their career, so why not do this for yourself? Investing in your self-development by attending training courses or subscribing to online sessions will always be a good use of time and money, and any costs will be tax-deductible.
Create a pleasant working environment
If you were forced to sit in a dark, cramped office on a chair that made your back hurt, you’d soon have something to say to your boss! But too many freelancers and contractors are working away in sub-standard office set ups, afraid to spend money on decent equipment. Make your working environment a place you want to be in, whether that’s with plants, artwork on the wall or music in the background. And get a decent chair!
All of these points boil down to one thing: creating a pleasant, productive and positive work environment for yourself. Just like any good boss!
This article was provided by Graphic Designer Michelle Abrahall.