Whilst being self-employed and running your own business may sound like the same thing to a lot of people, there are some differences that ultimately can have an impact on how you run and grow your business.
2016 – Self-Employed
Working in corporate accounting and fresh off a nasty basketball injury, I decided to quit and start Box Advisory Services. It had all the hallmarks of a business – I had a brand name, local landline you could call, website, social media and all the other bells and whistles that came with what people expect of an accounting firm.
Only that this was a brand new business and I was still in the early stages of building a client base. I was boot-strapping things by working from a home office and had some savings that would bankroll things until I could build enough of an income to support myself.
I was, in essence, self-employed or what you could call a “freelancer” accountant, securing any work I could get my hands on.
2016 to 2017 – The Transition
During this period, I saw a lot of ups and downs. At times, it felt like a real uphill battle and I would go for weeks without seeing any new additional business. However, with a healthy dose of patience, the number of clients grew steadily and I was making some major inroads with the way I ran things.
I had systems and processes with a lot more structure to how I did things. I focused on automating more of my tasks so that I could create more time to secure new clients.
I transitioned from struggling to pay myself a salary to having a healthy profit that I could invest. I decided to rent myself an office and doubled down finding even more business.
I was still doing the prospecting. I was still closing these clients. I was still onboarding them. I was still doing the work. And I was the one billing and chasing up on payments.
In essence, I was working for these clients and I was doing the full end-to-end spectrum of my business.
So, was I self-employed or was I running a business?
2018 – Hiring My First Employee
Any business owner who was hired their first employee will tell you – hiring your first employee changes everything.
I was at a stage where the volume of work was starting to deteriorate my ability and time to grow my business. Therefore, I hired with the goal of having someone who can help alleviate the pressure and provide additional support in my operations.
The caveat is that not only did this free up more of my time, it also changed my entire mindset as to how I run my business.
I went from feeling like I was full-time self-employed to now feeling like I am a director of my own business.
I had someone who answered to me and I was spending more time managing the direction of the company rather than being stuck working in the business.
I didn’t want to be a slave to my own business and therefore my goal was to be able to develop a business that could run without me.
2019 & Beyond – Running My Own Business
Building on our small team, I continued to see growth in the business. We were signing on more clients than ever before!
I shifted my focus towards what could take my business to the next level and scale it. Going back to the idea of ensuring that I wasn’t a slave to the business, I asked myself, what was taking up most of my time in the business?
Answer: sales and marketing
With more income coming in, I decided that the next most urgent need was a marketing team who would deliver the branding and image we want to project.
I quickly hired a full-time marketing employee who would help me with producing content as well as recently taking on a full-time employee for admin support.
At this stage, I was thinking about building departments and truly scaling the size of my business. I was no longer thinking about when the next pay-cheque was and was entirely focused on ensuring that the momentum that’s been built snowballs into something bigger.
What I Learned
It’s important to understand what your business goals are and what you should do to get you to where you want to be. For many, that means a lifetime of simply being self-employed and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that.
For me, I had always wanted to scale my business into something much larger than just a one-man show. I didn’t want to be self-employed. Therefore, it was incredibly important for me to detach myself from wearing all the hats of the business and instead dedicate myself to being a director to try and find a way to sustainably grow my business.
So ask yourself – are you actually self-employed or running a business?