So, how do we even out the hills and valleys? Some say to save for the slow days and that’s a fine goal. Unfortunately, I’ve seen times when there were so many slow days that the savings we had didn’t stretch. Some may have a pension from a previous work life or a spouse who can help with income. Many of us, though, don’t have a cushion, and we have to support our family on our skills alone.
Most of us did not start out as self-employed or even as home inspectors. We worked for a corporation or were in the military or had some other past life. In those past lives, no one taught us how to be self-employed. Running our own company requires a different outlook and greater self-discipline than working for someone else. We do punch a time clock, but it is one we set. We do have a steady job doing what is necessary to sell our profession and ourselves. We may run our business part-time as we attempt to build it, but to be successful, we have to commit to it full-time. You can’t run a home inspection business as a hobby and be successful.
I have been self-unemployed since 1984. I have had some real low times and many good times. Here’s how I’ve learned to get by without a steady paycheck.
First, the basics:
- Have the discipline to start the day at a regular time.
- Have a designated office area.
- Keep regular hours and have days off.
- Dress and act like you are in business.
- Have a clean, dependable vehicle.
- Diversify your services.
- Learn and obtain additional skills and credentials.
- Learn to price our services.
I suggest attending seminars or consulting with a CPA on developing a pricing structure. We have spent time and money learning our profession and should get compensated for what we know and do.
- Market our services.
When we are working, it’s hard to market, and when we are marketing, we are not working. Don’t reinvent the wheel; find a qualified marketing company, and let it design your marketing.
- Manage income, expenses and taxes.
As with marketing, hire a knowledgeable person. In this case, an accountant can save you enough to more than pay for his/her services.
- Develop relationships.
When you have developed relationships with your fellow chapter members, you’ll have others to call on for help when needed. This can take a lot of stress out of your life, and it allows for those days off. I have never felt that there was competition with any of my chapter’s members.
- Keep current and get better.
Keep learning new skills; keep up with building technology. Keep your communication and computer skills up-to-date. Hone your people skills, take self-development classes, and join or start a networking group. Attend chapter meetings; attend IW. Commit to obtaining additional credentials. Become involved in volunteering for something you believe in.
- Commit to running an ethical business.
- Read books on successful businesses and owners.
- Believe in yourself.