With 2017 just around the corner, here’s something for you to think about… there’s nothing like being your own boss!
The ability to set your own hours… to work at the time of day that suits you best… to have the freedom to take your children to school and pick them up again… to go to the gym when you choose to… to meet friends for lunch… go shopping on a whim…
These are just a few of the advantages that I enjoy on a daily basis because I am my own boss.
Yes, I’m always busy, but here’s the thing – my time is flexible. And in these hectic times, that’s important. Work hard but play hard, too.
So if you have been selling online for a while now, or even if you have only just begun and are making good progress, you may be starting to think about making the decision as to whether now is right to expand and concentrate on your business full-time.
One thing is clear: selling online does provide something of a recession proof income. Why? Because when the pennies are tight the rest of the country heads straight over to websites such as eBay and Amazon in order to try and bag a bargain.
Think about it. How many times have you seen an item you would like to buy in a store and have decided to wait and search for the same item online to see if you can secure a better deal? I’m sure you’ve done that – I certainly do it all the time.
However, if you are currently in full-time employment I do understand that this thought is probably not enough for you to take the bold step of actually handing in your notice… and I wouldn’t want you to do that unless you are absolutely certain that you are ready. Taking the plunge and becoming self-employed can be very daunting.
I thought this would be the right time to help you out by creating a shortlist of questions you should ask yourself in order to make that decision.
As you start to answer these questions you will be in a much better place to make your decision in time for a fresh start for 2017.
1) How much money are you actually making?
It would be wonderful if we could all do what we love for a living without having to worry about money, but unfortunately the financial aspect of work is something that requires a lot of consideration.
Before making the decision about taking your business full-time it is important to calculate how much you are actually earning from your products already.
Once you are aware of how much you are making you will be able to compare your regular salary with your online income to see if a full-time online business is viable.
Hopefully you will already be organised when it comes to your finances, with a record of income and expenditure since you started your online business.
Even if this is a part-time income you will still need to complete a tax return so if you aren’t on top of your records, now is the time to create a simple spreadsheet showing every penny you have generated from your products. You’ll also need to account for every penny you have spent on stock, packaging materials, postage costs and any other expenses you can think of.
The reason I suggest a spreadsheet is because it will be easy to see your expenditure and your income. The figure you are left with is the profit that you have made.
You may wish to calculate your monthly income from your online sales, or you could work out a yearly estimate, or even an approximate hourly rate to allow you to easily compare this with your current earnings.
Remember you should be able to increase your earnings once you are working full-time because you will be able to dedicate more time to efficiently and effectively researching and sourcing products, creating your product descriptions and so on.
However, it’s also very sensible to wait until your current income from your online sales meets or exceeds the income from your full or part-time job before making your decision.
2) What are you prepared to sacrifice?
A regular salary isn’t the only thing that you might benefit from in your current work.
Many big organisations offer pension schemes, health insurance, life insurance and other bonuses you won’t have once you hand in your notice, but of course all of these extras can be arranged on an individual basis for you and your family, so there is no need to miss out.
There is also no such thing as sick pay when you are working for yourself! Come down with the ‘flu and your boss won’t give you a week off – because you are the boss.
You will have to work through it, but strangely enough, when it’s your own income at stake you kind of become invincible! Likewise you won’t receive a standard 20 days holiday in which you will still be paid, so you will need to plan for any time off in advance.
Think carefully as to whether you are prepared to give up these benefits or if you would prefer to remain, for the time being, in a position where they are provided.
3) Can you work from home?
Obviously you already work from home part-time if you have established your online business. However it is quite different running things in your spare time compared to doing it all day every day for a living. You will need to motivate yourself to make sure things get done.
It is also vitally important to be organised as your own boss. You will need to keep a close track of financial records to complete your own tax return once a year, or to pass on to your accountant to do the job for you – much easier!
Implement a successful system so that you stay on top of orders as your sales increase so that you know that your buyers will receive their goods promptly.
Above all, you’ll need a quiet corner where you can work without distractions! It doesn’t have to be a room designated as an office – the kitchen table is fine – but make sure it is a suitable place for you to work proactively.
4) What happens in the hard times?
It’s all well and good working from home when you have a product that sells successfully every day, generating a very respectable income, but what happens if your sources for these goods dry up?
What happens if your customers simply stop buying from you for a month for one reason or another? Would you have the money to survive through a temporary slump?
By improving your organisation skills and putting some money aside during the peak months should certainly be able to sustain yourself through the difficult times.
5) Do you actually want to go full-time?
It’s great if you have the finances and the organisation to make a full-time living online, but the most important question that you need to ask yourself is whether you actually want to.
If you want to work from home buying and selling goods then you will be successful.
If you want to work for yourself then you will be motivated even in the difficult times.
If you want to achieve success then you will stay on top of your organisation and research of new products to sell should the market change.
Your mind is a powerful influence on how successful you can be, so why not take some time now and ask yourself this question: What do I want?
Then you’ll have your answer. 2017 will be here in just over two weeks – now could be your time.