“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” – Abraham Lincoln
The You Economy is on the rise with more and more people, of all ages, embracing the notion that 9-5 in a cubicle just doesn’t work. People want to work; however, with the demands of life, they want to do it on their own terms. Whether someone is driving for Uber™ and baking vegan cupcakes on the side to sell at the local farmer’s market, or leaving a full-time gig to go into consulting or freelancing; people are making the decision that they want to be their own boss, create their own schedules and end their personal rat race.
I made the decision to be full-time in the You Economy thirteen years ago. It was a time in my life where my deepest desire was to stay at home with my kids…
I was three years into navigating the frustrating, and often heartbreaking, symptoms I was experiencing with MS. The concept of designing a life where I could choose when I worked, and not miss the special moments with my family, became a necessity and not just the stuff of fairytales.
My husband’s income was not enough to sustain a mortgage, general household expenses, and groceries let alone luxuries like a family vacation. Our daughter, who was five at the time, was very gifted. In our small town there was one school at which I believed she could excel, and in those days, the tuition for day students was ten thousand dollars per year – a fortune when you are living on thirty-two thousand. I set the intention of making fifty-thousand dollars through a combined variety of sources, including nutritional consulting, which I had been doing for years, and a newly launched network marketing venture. At the time I had a part-time job, which was turning into more of a full-time job with part-time pay, no benefits, and my youngest was one. I had to get creative.
It took one year and the following principles to transition from having a boss to being my own. Since then, I have never looked back. Just over two years into creating life on my own terms, I was able to bring my husband home. There were times when he chose to go back to work. As a professional, he wanted to flex his muscles back in the corporate world, but much like me, he ended up enjoying the easily adjustable schedule of contributing to our growing businesses. If you are ready to embrace the You Economy, here are five things to ensure better results:
1. Plan to Treat It Like a Job
Often, when people start creating their own revenue streams there is a hedonistic period where schedules and discipline go out the door. When we have a job, there is an expectation of when we are supposed to be at work, what we are required to do, and how we are to behave while doing it. When left to our own devices, many people go through a transition period where they embrace supposed freedom, eschew schedules, and act like rebellious teenagers. Unfortunately, although fun, it will be highly costly when it is realized that the same mode of operations we had in our careers, is identical to what is demanded in order to be successful in the You Economy.
Ultimately, whether you are driving for Uber, starting your own consulting business, doing direct selling, or whatever it is, you have got to treat it like your job. Operate as though you had a boss watching.
2. Make a Budget
When I am consulting with people who are transitioning, I ask them what their financial goal is. Almost sixty percent of respondents are deeply ambiguous, something which is costly when you are venturing out on your own. The remaining forty percent often have a goal to replace their former salary, though they commonly fail to take into account the better tax breaks for people who run their own business, and add costs such as new equipment, marketing, website design, and other necessities.
Before making the leap, create a budget and have at least two other self-employed people look at it. Be prepared to add ‘emergency funds’ to your budget. What if your revenue projections are not what you expected? What if you have to spend more than you anticipated to get your venture off the ground? One surefire way to fail in the You Economy is to not have a solid financial plan.
3. Be Prepared to Work Longer Hours
Initially, people come into the You Economy with notions of spending just a few hours per day working and then hitting the beach, going to the spa, or simply turning on their instant revenue stream while they play with their kids for eight hours per day. Initially, you are going to work longer and you have to be prepared for that.
In addition to the actual work you will be doing to generate revenue, you must spend time marketing your business, meeting with potential clients, networking, and selling yourself. As an aside, my new course – OYL Sales Academy is designed for people in the You Economy to help them get out there and be more effective in sales and marketing. People often fail to take into account the extras that go into starting their own business. In my experience, most people definitely underestimate the time it is going to take.
4. You Will Hustle
Anyone who achieves success in the You Economy is going to hustle. If you are naturally introverted, you will soon find out that you are going to have to get uncomfortable and put yourself out there much more often than you likely anticipate. If you are someone who eschews work, the You Economy is not necessarily for you. Part of the ‘hustle’ is networking, asking for referrals, finding new clients, arranging your schedule to align with your clients, and much more. In today’s fast-paced world, people are going to have to know you exist. Without the hustle, that is not likely to happen.
Even if you are driving Uber™ to pay the bills, you are going to have to drive around and be where the clients are, when the clients want you, even if that means the 2:00 a.m. bar crowd. If you have a consulting business, you are going to have to go to networking events, meet up with friends, ask for referrals, and spend about 80% of your day looking for new customers until you build a base you can nurture. Think of the hustle as the upfront sweat equity. People who really create life on their own terms are not afraid of rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.
5. Plan a Longer Transition
Yes, you want to tell your boss to take this job and shove it. You want to begin to create life on your own terms now. Amateurs in the You Economy frequently underestimate transition time. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx and one of my own entrepreneurial idols, took over a year to transition. During this time, she researched the market, built prototypes, made a budget, and geared up for her own hustle. The result speaks for itself.
I suggest that whatever transition time you are giving yourself, double it. This will also give you more time to save for potential unforeseen costs or less-than-expected revenue. If you think it will take you three months to get your venture up and running, give yourself six. Most people gravely underestimate the length of time it will take and end up either returning to the workforce or making incredible sacrifices. There is nothing glamorous about having to ask your parents for money when you are forty-five years old!
Lastly, the You Economy is awesome. Once you get your groove, being able to set your schedule, take your vacations, and do all of the things you envisioned is deeply fulfilling. However, I will throw in this one caveat. Almost everyone I know in the You Economy never shuts their brain down, constantly thinking about their business. Before your leap, consider these five tips. Make a solid plan and know that it can be worthwhile. But it is going to take work!
Susan Sly is a best selling author, work life balance expert, speaker and entrepreneur. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television and the CBN. Susan is the mother of five children and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.