Last month, when I was teaching at the Feldenkrais Guild of North America® Annual Conference, I asked people to raise their hands if they were NOT self-employed. Only a sprinkling of hands went up.
It didn’t surprise me – most hands-on practitioners work for themselves, especially if their modality isn’t really well-known. And that’s a problem for a lot of practitioners — because they know how to work with clients, but have no idea how to work for themselves.
This is a major factor in the high failure rate of new businesses. For practitioners who keep trudging along without ever earning enough money, it contributes mightily to the feeling that “it’s never going to work out.”
How do people who work for themselves achieve success?
Self-employment is possible in just about every occupation, but it’s how they go about being self-employed that we’re interested in. In this post, we’re going to take a first look at how they deal with time.
(In future posts, we’ll look at other aspects of being your own boss.)
“What’s the best thing about working for yourself?”
Every successful self-employed person I know ranks TIME somewhere near the top of their list. It gets expressed in a number of ways–
~~ I want control of how much I work
~~ I want to set my own hours.
~~ I want to take time off when I want it.
~~ I want time with my kids.
~~ I want a weekend.
These are also top-rated benefits practitioners typically cite.
Interestingly, they’re also a major reason that so many practitioners don’t have enough clients, don’t feel like they get time off, and most important — don’t make the impact they’re here to make on the world.
Why? It’s simple…
Practitioners usually think they’re working only when they have clients…
In other words, if you want 20 clients a week, and you have 3, you’re likely to think that you’ve got only 3 hours of work this week.
Successfully self-employed people look at this in an entirely different way. They start as they mean to go on — so they put in at least the number of hours they intend to work when they’ve “made it,” right from the start.
They’d say something like this about the 20 clients vs 3 hours situation:
What you really have is 3 hours a week when you already know what you’re going to be doing. When are you putting in the other 17 hours — the ones that are going to get you 17 more clients?
Those other 17 hours are for doing the work needed to fill your practice, but chances are, you don’t have them scheduled, because if you’re like the vast majority of practitioners I’ve talked to, you don’t see them as work hours.
The reason for this comes from a misunderstanding that gets expressed more or less like this –
Why schedule hours when you don’t have clients to fill them?
Before they embark on it, most people think that working for themselves means they never have to do anything they don’t want to do.
On the one hand, it makes sense because if you think about having a job, one of the things most of us hate is having to do something we don’t like, don’t want to do and would never choose to do if it were left up to us.
On the other hand, this makes no sense at all, if you want to earn a living. Earning a living implies that you have a business, and no business succeeds unless all the things that need to be done actually get done.
What do hands-on practitioners want to do?
Obviously we want to work with clients. And in fact the research I’ve done on how practitioners choose to spend their time bears this out.
The problem is that if you see working for yourself as giving you permission to do only the things you like, you’re likely to spend a lot of time hoping for clients. That’s because getting clients is something most practitioners don’t like to do– at least not before they find out how to do it so that it feels easy and natural.
Even if you are totally averse to doing anything other than working with clients, not having a handle on your time makes it harder to serve the people who want to work with you.
Suppose someone calls and wants to make an appointment with you. On the surface, it’s really simple to say you’re going to make an appointment with someone, but WHEN is that going to be?
Has your side of the conversation ever sounded like this?
Well, let’s seeeeee… I could do it on Tuesday afternoon – no, wait, I help out in Susie’s classroom then and after that we have soccer practice.
Thursday is usually good — oh, but this week I have a dentist appointment and then of course, I volunteer at Hospice and …
Well, I could … … … hmm.
If you’re serious about building a business, as opposed to having a hobby — if you want to earn a living with your practice — you have to set your work hours, make them protected time, show up for them and use them all to build your business.
Otherwise, you’ll fill up your whole week without doing anything to develop your business. You’ll look unprofessional because you don’t know when you’re available. And you’ll find another use for all of your time — because being self-employed means your time is your own.
The rub is that when you’re self-employed, you get to do everything…
Even the stuff you don’t want to do.
And you know as well as I do that things you don’t want to do often end up not getting done unless somebody makes you do them.
When you have a job, that person is your boss. When you’re self-employed, that person is YOU.
What successfully self-employed people know is that you have to take yourself seriously enough to make sure that everything that needs to be done, gets done.
That starts with setting a schedule and showing up for work when you say you’re going to.
Take charge of your own time — RIGHT NOW!
If you’re ready to step up to the plate, the first thing to do is commit yourself to working the number of hours you ultimately want to work. Here’s how to do it, in 4 easy steps:
- Decide how many clients you want and how many hours it will take you to work with them all every week. Include your classes here, and workshops if you teach them. (Heads up!: When you’re fully booked with client contact hours — working IN your business — you’ll need to find other times for working ON your business.)
- Open your calendar and schedule all of those hour as work hours.
- Fill in client appointments you have now… those are the hours you’re going to work IN your business.
- Show up faithfully and work ON your business in all the other hours you have scheduled but don’t yet have a client.
Working ON your business includes preparation and deepening your skills, learning how to GET clients, marketing to ATTRACT clients, finding places to teach and speak, taking care of your studio, dealing with your finances — and all the things that successfully self-employed people do so that they can continue to live while bringing transformation to the world.
What’s your Client Attraction Quotient? Click here to find out! It’s free and you’ll get a personalized report to help you know what to focus on.
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