Congratulations! You've just started your own business, or broken out as a consultant, hung your shingle as a creative freelancer, or announced your next chapter as a digital entrepreneur. Your fate is in your hands, and you're ready to lead your team of one to growth and, hopefully, wealth!
You'll get to make jokes about "liking your new boss" for quite some time, but it probably won't be long before you start to see some of the reasons that being your own boss is just as scary and difficult as it is freeing and exciting.
Typically your boss sets your priorities. They approve your job description and guide you on the most important tasks and clients to focus on. But now, you're the master of your own priorities.
While this means you get to choose what projects you work on and which clients you partner with, it also means you have the unpleasant task of turning some away. Saying "no" to opportunities doesn't feel great, especially when you're first starting out, but it's a necessary step to growing your venture.
Take some time to write down your broad goals, the characteristics of your ideal projects or clients, and the limits for how much you're willing to take on in a given time period. This will make it easier to see which opportunities are a good fit and which you simply have to let go.
Working for a corporation comes with some often unnoticed and definitely unappreciated perks, like built-in scheduling systems, conference lines and systems for managing expenses, billing and travel. Now that you're on your own, you have to figure those things out and implement your own processes and best practices.
Without a virtual or actual assistant, you may find that a lot of your time is spent arranging meetings, setting up conference calls, booking and managing travel, sending invoices, and keeping track of all your own commitments and financials.
Make a list of the small logistical tasks that take up a lot of your time, then look for time-saving tips, tools, shortcuts and tricks to make managing these logistics easier so that you can save your valuable time and brain power for more pressing tasks. Consider hiring a virtual or actual assistant to help offload some of those tasks and keep your day open for revenue-producing work.
Even with a lenient boss, you're usually conditioned to take pause before putting personal matters above work matters during the day. But when you have nobody to answer to but yourself and every day at home feels like Saturday, it's easy to let personal tasks take precedence.
Pressing work can fall to the wayside when doctor's appointments, brunch with friends, kids, pets, laundry and other household chores -- nevermind Facebook, Netflix, interesting mobile notifications and other tech distractions -- all begging for your attention throughout the day. As the new boss, you have to be aware of the consequences of letting these personal tasks and action times take over the schedule too often.
Build a schedule for yourself so work time doesn't look like free time on your calendar, and schedule dedicated time for these tasks so you don't have to worry about when they'll get done. Consider color coding them so you can quickly keep the balance of work/personal activities in check. With an organized calendar you'll be able to see, at a glance, whether you can take a break or need to keep your axe to the grindstone.
When you create a framework for tackling logistics, weighing opportunities and managing your calendar, you'll be able to be the most effective boss (and employee) you've ever had.