You should be in business for yourself. We all should. I don’t mean quit your job and form a new company. I mean right now – at the job you are in – you should be in business for yourself.

You see, we manage ourselves differently when we’re self-employed versus working for a company.
When you ‘work for a company’ you rely on systems within the company to:

  • recognize the great work you do,
  • reward your achievements,
  • upgrade your salary when appropriate, and
  • promote you to a more challenging role.

I should also add…

  • Fire you when you’re no longer growing or adding value.

When you’re in business for yourself, as a freelancer you don’t have “systems.” You have you.

Many of us have learned, during the interview process, to interview the company just as much as they are interviewing you. But that is often where many of us stop managing ourselves.

Instead of thinking of them as your employer, see them as if you were a freelance worker – supplying projects and experience in exchange for compensation.

In business for yourself, you manage your own marketing mix. You manage your “Four P’s”

Product – You would seek out projects that appeal to you and/or provide experience. You provide the products and services based on your core strengths.

  • Instead of filling out the company forms and business templates, is there a better way to present and communicate information?
  • You set your own standards – hopefully higher and more critical than the company’s.

Price – You would negotiate your fee (compensation) based on the value you provide, versus being dictated by the annual percentage.

  • While human resources does outline guidelines, reality is, compensation rules can be broken. While a taboo subject – I’m sure you’ve heard stories and know others around you are making less and making more in the same job title. A freelancer manages this much different than the ’employee’ who is at the mercy of the system. I look to be paid for the value I provide versus simply a flat rate, hourly sum. (Caution, if you don’t perform well, this can work against you. You need to be good, not just independent).

Promotion – You manage your own advertising, sales promotion, publicity, and personal selling.

  • You may have a great boss who is into ‘personal development’ and helping you grow. More than likely they are motivated by their own measured goal of ‘people development’ versus the joy of helping you. (Don’t get me wrong… There are plenty of great bosses out there – but unless you work with your mom, there is no other person who cares about you as much as you.
  • Comping Yourself – You may get high marks from your boss during your performance review, but still lack challenge and opportunity. If you were a business you’d measure your comp scores – how you’re performing this year over last year. Are you growing? Do you have new opportunities? Are you better off than last year? If not, you can do something about it.

Placement – How you reach the the customers (your employer). What are your channels, geography, segments?

  • Instead of following standard company protocol and working within your department silo… In business for yourself, you gauge who, where, how, and when you deliver your messages. Networking, informal relationships, and looking at the broader horizon within the company offers more opportunity.

One of the most important benefits of being in business for yourself is knowing when to let a customer go. Most often we quit a job after an extended period of dead-ends, or perhaps to preempt being fired. If you’re not growing or ‘comping yourself’ you need to move on to a different role, or a different company.

Finally, I need to note… Being in business for yourself doesn’t mean being disloyal to the company you are doing business with… You are bound by the minimum performance and legal requirements as a typical employee.. But you are empowered with looking out for your best interest while supporting your employer’s interest.

Give it a try. You’ll find yourself energized and with power you didn’t even know you had. It feels much better to be the driver of your career rather than a passenger.

So, start minding your own business!