How To Embrace And Encourage The Self-Employed Mindset

Whether you’re switching to self-employed after years of being an employee, or if you’re feeling a tad burnt out from building your own business – there are always lessons you can learn from changing your mindset and setting a brand new attitude to your company. 

So to help you thrive or bring back that spark to your work, we’ve put together this guide to embrace and encourage the self-employed mindset. 

The importance of having the right mindset 

Being self-employed has a lot of advantages, including the freedom of working for yourself and setting all of your terms and conditions. However, it’s also a lot of hard work and can be a lot of pressure to rely on yourself. But the more you focus on the negative, the harder it is to succeed. 

I’m sure you’ve heard thousands of sayings like, ‘if you dream it, you can do it’.

Cheese aside, there is a ring of truth here.

The better mindset you have, the harder and better you’ll work. In turn, that will breed more success – and more resilience. It’s how the Elon Musks of this world operate and whether you believe in all their decisions or not, their mindset to success is worth replicating. 

Embracing the self-employed mindset 

To embrace that self-employed mindset, we’ve gathered some of the top tips and qualities to grow and encourage to help secure your success. 

1. Choose realistic positivity 

Being positive and optimistic about your business and work is important for your success. It’s returning to that whole ‘if you can dream it, do it’ quote again. 

However – there needs to be a pinch of salt in your positivity. Seeing the world in sunshine and rainbows might work for some people, but the whole ‘just be happy’ attitude to life gets broken pretty quickly whenever you hit a setback. 

Instead, it’s important to make sure that you accept that setbacks will happen. You will have bad luck, you will lose clients, or get a bad review. Having a great self-employed mindset is to recognise these aspects and have a plan in place for when they happen, all while focusing on the good parts.

For every bad review you get, there will be dozens or hundreds of positive reviews. For every client you lose, there could be 10 new ones around the corner. Your business won’t fail at the first, or second, bit of bad luck. You will succeed, despite the setbacks. That’s realistic positivity.

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2. You are responsible for your success 

This one can seem like a daunting fact at times, but when you’re self-employed, your success is 100% down to you. You can’t blame the world or a boss when something doesn’t go to plan. It’s your responsibility. 

This fact shouldn’t be a scary one. Yes, you are responsible for your success – but this also means that nothing is standing in your way.

You directly influence the quality of your work, meaning that you set the standards, you set the time you spend on it, and you set the price that you charge. 

All of these factors are yours to control and yours to spin into success. That’s a big part of the self-employed mindset.

3. Always know your value 

One of the key characteristics to have to be a successful entrepreneur is confidence and awareness of self-worth.

If we were to assign this one a cheesy quote, it would be the ‘because you’re worth it’ tagline from L’Oréal. 

This is especially important around pay. When trying to get new jobs and clients in, there’s an unwritten pressure to compete with others on price and accept low-paying jobs until you’ve ‘earnt’ the right to charge a premium. This, of course, is total rubbish. 

You are a professional and thus can charge a professional rate for your work.

Think of the hours that you spend, the resources that you might use, and the level of quality that you offer. Then price your work up to YOUR standards, not what others are charging. 

No matter what you charge, there will be people who think that you are too expensive and that they could do it themselves. Don’t sink to their level – let them get on with it and chase after the clients who think your price is worth it. Plus, the relief of knowing your jobs will indeed pay the bills this month is great stress relief.

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4. Embrace flexibility 

Some people do work better with routines. So setting up rigid working days or sticking to the 9-5 can work for some. Stephan King lives by this structure, making sure to write 1,000 words every single day. 

But here’s the thing, not all of those words of King’s will be bestsellers. There are some days where you don’t have the effort, where you feel burnt out, the creativity is gone, or simply life has gotten in the way. But being self-employed gives you the freedom to pick and choose your own hours, so if something isn’t working – step back. Give yourself time off. Give yourself breaks and ensure the home/work-life balance is right for you. 

Take time to reset yourself, then jump back in at a better time with a more positive attitude and that refreshed, can-do spirit. Whatever time works for you, go for it. Within reason, of course.

If you’re a plumber, I don’t think many clients will be too happy that you do your best work at 2 am. Although, saying that – there COULD be a market for night owls with plumbing issues… Or you could make a killing off emergency call-outs. Thinking about new ways is also part of the self-employed mindset.

If you’re balancing your business while being employed, it’s even more important that you follow this advice. Lucky for you, we have a guide that covers this exact thing.

Find out how to balance your employment and your business, plus extra information like when to make the big switch and legal obligations you need to be aware of in this guide to starting a business when employed.

5. Take it one day at a time

"Trust the process" is a very famous saying among entrepreneurs. Don't try to achieve 5-year goals in the first year.

There are a lot of things that you can be worrying about when you’re self-employed, particularly around income. Even if you’ve secured enough work for the current month, the temptation is then to start immediately worrying about the month after, or the month after that, or if your backup reserves run out… 

And that’s how you enter the worry pit of self-sabotage. We’ve said it before, but part of the self-employed mindset is realistic positivity and remembering that you are responsible for your own success. But you can’t achieve everything in a single day.

Right now, you are responsible for today’s success, which will be successful. Far away worries are not in your world of control. So, bring that back. Focus on today and what you can control right now. Accept these worries and potential drawbacks, and know that it will be alright.

Pst, ensuring you have your business plan in place and regularly reviewed is a good way to battle this stress. Plus, businesses that have a plan grow on average 30% faster than those that don’t. If you haven’t got a plan yet, or it’s time to review, take a look at our guide to making a killer business plan.

6. Set boundaries, but don’t cage yourself 

This may seem like a direct contradiction to the flexibility point we made earlier, but the truth is that it’s all about balance. If you want your business to succeed, you need to set boundaries of what you should be expecting to achieve, how much you need to work as a minimum, and where you actually achieve your work, particularly if you’re working from home. 

Boundaries will help you figure out where you, the person, and you, the business, separate. The more physical boundaries and rules you put in place, the easier it will be to manage your work without life getting in the way or vice versa. 

What boundaries you actually set will be different for each person and business. Some could be about where and when you complete your work, choosing to work in a designated office space between certain hours so you can ‘switch on’ and ‘off’ when it’s required. 

For others, boundaries limit what’s possible with your business and services. Rather than promising clients the world, you set limits on what can actually be achieved for what price – and ensure that you’re not taking on clients that are more hassle than they’re worth. 

There is an extreme side to boundary setting that you need to be careful of – and that’s not straying too far away from your safe place. Here’s another cheesy quote for you, ‘no risk, no reward’.

Don’t let your self-imposed boundaries about what you can achieve stop you from chasing success. That glass ceiling was made to be broken after all; why else would it be made from such a fragile material? 

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7. Want it, plan it, achieve it

Planning can be a powerful resource in your business. So make it fundamental to yours!

Finally, we bring every lesson together into a calm, collected, and realistic positive mindset that knows what it wants, knows how to achieve it, and will achieve it – despite any setbacks that you might face along the way. 

Just make sure that the goal you set is somewhat realistic and measurable. We’re a fan of dreaming big, but ‘being the best in the world’ is a tough one to achieve, in the factual sense of the word. Instead, plan goals that you can definitively hit – but still, provide enough of a stretch to make it a challenge. 

A good way to think about goal setting is to think of it in simple terms like weight loss. ‘Being skinny’ is not a goal, as that can’t be measured in an achievable way. However, ‘losing 2 stone’ is, and can be broken down into individual pounds to hit that goal if you wanted to. You also don’t want to go too small with goals. ‘Loose one pound’ doesn’t provide enough of a challenge. 

Dream bigger and better, ensure you have milestones along the way, accept that you will hit setbacks and challenges, and finally, achieve it, because you know you can. That’s the self-employed mindset. 

Not there yet? Let’s work on it

No one is born with the natural confidence with everything figured out. If there are areas on this list that you’re weak at or know that you can do better, then you have a starting point for self-improvement. 

If you were naturally good at this, then there would be no room to get better. And there is always room for improvement. 

When working on these areas, it can be useful to say quick affirmations to yourself to remember the lessons you should be learning and the mindset you are aiming for. Having them as mantras works for some, but just having them written down somewhere as a prompt to reset your thought process can work for others. 

  • I make my own success.
  • I am worth my price. 
  • My clients are out there, and I will win them. 
  • Bad days happen, but I will succeed. 
  • Minor setbacks do not mean my goal has failed. 
  • Problems can be overcome. 
  • I have the freedom to work when it suits me. 
  • I believe in my goal. 

If none of these work for you, then write your own. Whatever you need to embrace the self-employed mindset, go for it.

Don’t neglect your other business essentials 

Now that we’re working on your self-employed mindset, we should mention the importance of getting your finances right. Accounting is not everyone’s favourite subject, but it’s essential that you are paying the right amount of tax and on time. 

When you’re self-employed, you are responsible for completing a self-assessment tax return every year and paying both income tax and national insurance. If you haven’t already, make sure you invest in some accounting software (or see our free options!) to make this process quick, easy, and less taxing (if you’ll excuse the pun). 

We’d also recommend making sure that you speak to an accountant to ensure that everything is in order and catch any tax breaks that you might not be aware of, including allowable expenses you could be claiming for if you are a sole trader.

If you don’t have an accountant yet, take a look at our reviews of the best online accountants in the UK.

For anything else about your business needs, we’ll be ready and here for you at Business4Beginners. Now, go put your new self-employed mindset out for a run and achieve your business goals. 

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Business4Beginners has been advising new businesses owners since 2013. The founder, Paul Bryant, has created, grown and sold several successful businesses and remains the editor and fact-checker of all content published on the site.
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