Whether you get a paycheck from a single company or from many customers, everyone is self-employed. Before you think I jumped off the deep end, give me three minutes. Understanding that you work for yourself could be the single-most important, life-changing realization you have today.
In most places around the world, we have won the battle against slavery: no one is forcing us to do a job we didn’t choose. You say you work for someone else? Everyone works for someone else. That’s what work is. If you sell tacos from your own food cart, or keep a manager happy by hitting numbers, you’ve got a customer to serve (the hungry pedestrian, or the demanding boss).
Work is trading your time and energy to produce something in return for money. If you aren’t happy with that trade, you can stop making it any time you wish. There are 7 billion people on the planet. That’s a lot of needs to serve.
I know it sounds too easy, but it’s really a mindset issue. Here are four steps to becoming self-employed (in your mind):
- Recognize your business. What do you get paid to do? You have some skills, but what can you accomplish with those skills. If you have to convince your boss to pay you for your work today, how will you sell them on it? What will you produce for them? What service will you perform? Think about your job and write down everything concrete that you can accomplish: your “deliverables.”
- Survey the market. Success typically comes from offering the best value (Walmart), the best product (Apple), or a unique solution (Facebook). There’s nothing wrong with offering the best value, but producing the best product, or creating a unique solution is far more rewarding. Where do each of your deliverables fit? What can you do that is unique? What could you be really good at?
- Find where to focus improvement. Pick out the things you can deliver that you are best positioned to succeed with. Usually we’re better at the things we enjoy doing, so hopefully those made the list. Finding unique solutions is harder, but maybe you’ve got some. Once you have some things to focus on, improve. Be deliberate. Refine. Become the best.
- Improve your position. As you deliver a better product, demand (politely) more in return. If you believe you’re under paid, put yourself on the market and ask for a higher price. Once you can prove yourself, you’ll probably get it.
What do you get paid to create [a product] or do [a service]?