Could you be your own boss?

With many people facing redundancy as businesses grapple with the impact of coronavirus, starting your own venture could be a more attractive prospect than usual.

Losing your job can be a devastating experience, but it can also provide a springboard for becoming your own boss, and a starting point from which you could find a new sense of purpose and control over your future.

A 2017 survey of 2000 Australians revealed a large cohort that wanted to start their own businesses. Given the rate of job losses, this figure is sure to be rising. 

NAB surveyed 2019 Australians aged 16 to 70, with 32 per cent aged 50 to 70.

The report shows one in four working Australians are self-employed. Of those surveyed who don’t currently own their own business, one in six said it was something they would like to accomplish.

But starting a company isn’t easy and striking out on your own can feel daunting. We asked business owners to share self-care advice and strategies for getting your idea off the ground, while avoiding stress and burnout.

1. Build a support network
Ashley Rossiter, founder of Mirror Me PR, started her own business in 2011, after her main source of freelance income suddenly ended. “My main tip is to start a business that focuses on something you’re passionate about and then find other small business owners that are passionate about it too. It’s hard work in the beginning, so you have to find something that you really love,” she says.

“If you’re setting up shop on your own, connect with your local small business owner networks and join business Facebook groups for moral support, tips and advice. Laughing with a friend about a bad day ‘at the office’ is better than crying into your keyboard.”

2. Don’t let setbacks stop you
Adam Ewart, CEO and founder of Send My Bag, says: “It may seem cliched, but it’s always important to keep pushing forward, even when you’re faced with setback after setback.

“Your first business may not work, and there’s every chance your second won’t either, but all of the experiences you gain are character building – regardless of whether they are good or bad. They’re valuable for developing your knowledge and increasing your ability to execute when the time and concept is eventually right.”

3. Set boundaries
Cara De Lange, burnout expert and founder of Softer Success, says: “The key to preventing burnout when starting a business is to set boundaries right from the start. Think about how your working week will look. For example, decide on a daily time you’ll stop working, and switch off from technology one hour before bed. It’s also helpful to continue giving yourself weekends off.

“I always think it’s good to get to know your personal strategies to manage stress, and then do them every day. For some of my clients, this is something as simple as a nutritious meal, or a long walk in nature.”

4. Take your lunch break
Ed Molyneux, co-founder and CEO of FreeAgent, says: “It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’re too busy to take a break from work, even if it’s just a 30-minute rest for lunch – but doing this can actually be very detrimental to your business and your own productivity.

“Over the years, I’ve come to realise that downtime is incredibly important – you need to step away and recharge your batteries so you can return to the task you’re working on with a fresh perspective.”

5. Organise your time
Alina Cincan, managing director of Inbox Translation, says: “In the first year of business, the risk of burnout is really high, especially as you’ll likely want to take charge of every single aspect of the launch.

“You can’t really afford to spend hours trying lots of different apps and tools, so as someone who’s been there, my number one download would be a digital calendar.

“Use it to block off time for both work and, most importantly, self-care. It could be anything from reading a good book, going to the gym, or taking a long, hot bath after a busy day. A busy calendar is a life, and business, saver.”

Are you, or have you ever been, self-employed? Would you like to start your own business or prefer working for someone else?

– With PA

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