Sunday, January 15, 2006

Getting Started in Self Employment

With the new year I feel compelled to return to my central subject: Self-Employment for Bohemians.

How does the creative, self-directed person start down the path of self-employment? I've written about my own process of falling into the life--in fact these writings are buried deep in the archives of this very blog. I'd like to address the question of getting started in the general sense, maybe put out some information that will be helpful to souls ready to take the plunge.

Simply put, there is a self-selection process involved. How the hell else are you going to end up working for yourself?! But really, let's assume we have a creative, independent individual with no desire to hold down a regular job. In fact, the very prospect of having a job should put this person in a cold sweat. If this sounds familiar, we're on the right track! Our candidate made hold a regular job even though self-employment is preferred (in case they want to eat, buy toilet paper, stuff like that...).

What happens as our prospect works a regular job for some other person or company? They spend every working minute scheming about how to escape. For me, any time I had a nine to five gig, I would spontaneously generate marketing plans in my mind for the self-employment scheme that would allow me to escape. It was the central focus of my life. Get the hell out of this shit hole dead end boring job now!

Again, I've written elsewhere about my personal experience on the road to being gainfully, happily self employed; I've covered the specifics about what got me there. What about those who wish to start with self employment now? It's twenty years later than when I took the plunge. The market place is different. Technology is wildly different! While some of my experiences and anecdotes are still valid, there has to be new wrinkles that an ingenious person of modest means can bring to bear on the project of self-employment.

Clearly, a lot of them have to do with using the web in an informed and effective manner. Me, I just worked my way through The Complete Idiot's Guide to Growing Your Business With Google by Dave Taylor. I highly recommend it. I will also say, if you want to make it on your own, you have to talk to people. Yes, actual people. In the field, face to face. Potential clients. Competitors. Anyone who has anything to do with your area of expertise. So don't just sit staring at a screen all day, wondering where all the clients are!

The preceding is my way of admiting that I might have limited insight into the nuts & bolts of starting in self-employment in today's environment. I know what has worked for me in the past, and I know what works for me in the present. I also know what fails for me! I must conclude that my best advice for a brave soul embarking on self-employment today would be specific to their case. Given that, I would like to extend an invitation to one and all to comment on this entry with specific queries about their situation as they consider self employment. I will answer one and all to the best of my ability.

Steve Lafler


Anonymous said...

Great post Steve, thanks! I have followed your blog since your deadhead comic last summer for Jerry's birthday. I found your blog through a link you posted on the Grateful Dead hour mailing list. I'm trying to become a freelancer myself. I'm a web developer/entrepreneur and I'm trying to make my living via the internet. I really get excited when I think about being and entrepreneur because the sky is the limit! Thanks for all your inspirational insights!

Paul said...

I read this post with great interest for you see, I am a complete failure and have been searcing for some kind of calling... anything. Ok, I do have limits. But actually DO something? Actually talk to people? Well, I'm doomed.