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What is it like to be self employed? Cheryl MacKenzie, Business Coach at JobSkills

About the Author

Cheryl is a Business Coach with the Youth Entrepreneurship Program at Job Skills. This program helps youth get a start in business over a 6-month period of time. Cheryl brings her experience as a business owner, and studies in social work and psychology, to the group. She works with their objectives and helps them set goals to reach their potential in business.

Entrepreneurs are the first to tell you it's an endeavour for self starters only. Although there are benefits to setting their own hours, making decisions and acquiring business, they usually put more time into their work week than anyone else. It's often an exciting, rewarding and satisfying experience for those who want a challenge and strive for achievement.

Using your own creativity and ideas, as well as learning from a few mistakes along the way are often interesting aspects of self-employment. Getting that first few clients is, for most, a great adrenalin rush. Figuring out which marketing avenue works and trying to understand why it works is one of the mysterious and exciting aspects of business. Using social skills and networking are so important and often the most fun for young entrepreneurs. However, polishing that winning approach with friends and business associates is necessary, requiring an open mind and tolerance for criticism that not everyone is prepared to accept. Knowing when to ''speak'' and when to ''listen'' is critical! Being aware of your limitations and having a sense of humour can take you a long way in developing rapport with others including clients who usually appreciate candour.

It's also necessary to recognize that input and feedback from others is a requirement when getting started in business. Finding trusted people to advise you will be key in getting your business off the ground. There is a process to opening your business and certain steps are required by the government in order for you to operate legally. Registering your business and determining if someone else is using the name you want, are a couple of areas that you must investigate before you move ahead with making sales.

Should you advertise in newspapers, magazines, on billboards, radio? How do you find the most cost-effective way to get your name out there? Should you hire someone to help when you have a period of brisk sales? What is involved in hiring someone? Guidance from experienced professionals will help you feel confident you're on the right track and help you answer the many questions that sometimes stall progress in the early months of self-employment.

Being self-motivated, goal-oriented and disciplined are necessary, but sometimes these skills can be developed with guidance and persistence. Individuals with drive and inspiration can become successful when getting the right encouragement and information. Don't forget to explore opportunities for assistance—government-funded Self-Employment Programs, mentoring support from local Chambers of Commerce/Boards of Trade and Community Futures programs are some of the many valuable resources that can help you get started on your way to great things!

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