Is Self-Employment Right for You?
6 Traits and Skills You'll Need to Develop

See also: Innovation Skills

As the Great Resignation continues to sweep through the US, millions of professionals are looking to reconfigure their lives and switch to a self-employed life.

But, as the number of self-employed Americans reached a whopping 9.98 million in 2022, choosing a catchy brand name and setting up a business social media account is no longer enough to be successful.

With the competition getting fiercer by the minute, there are a wide range of soft and hard skills you need to master to thrive through your self-employed life. Start here!

Woman working in home office.

Consistency and a Goal-Focused Mindset

The first years as a self-employed professional are the toughest ones. During this time, you’ll be trying to get your new business off the ground, dealing with low profits and long work hours.

After all, recent estimations tell us that a new business can take between three and four years to become profitable.

That is where being consistent with your efforts and setting smart goals can help you break through the 5-year wall - and build long-term success. Remember, you are the only one in charge of moving your venture always a step further!

Resilience and Flexibility

Whether you are looking to transition into a freelancing, entrepreneurial, or self-employed life, one thing is for sure: you will have to wear many hats during your day at work - and not all of them are predictable.

Especially when your business is still in the startup phase, your duties won’t be clearly defined, and you’ll often find yourself dealing with unexpected crises and putting out fires.

Cultivating a flexible mindset can help you enhance your problem-solving skills, make calculated decisions on the spot, and pivot towards better opportunities.

But don’t forget that pitfalls are to be expected, and a resilient personality is the only trait that can help you overcome otherwise-fatal setbacks!

Accountancy and Handling Your Own Taxes

Selling your products or services might be a core task in your business, but there is a lot more to being a successful self-employed professional than just being good at what you do.

One of the main aspects of running a business involves its finances, and getting this part wrong can cause you to run into hefty fines, penalties, and a disadvantageous tax strategy.

Whether you are a financial expert or just learning the ropes of accountancy, you should partner with a specialized advisor and use a free income tax calculator.

Selling, Networking, and Persuading

Most organizations rely on their sales department to bridge the gap between the company itself and its target audience. But the chances are that, as a freelancer or self-employed professional, your budget does not yet stretch to hiring a full-scale sales team.

Luckily, today, outsourcing has become a common and more accessible option, meaning that you will be able to partner with expert sales professionals and subscribe to sales and CRM tools.

But this doesn’t mean that you should opt for a hands-off approach to managing your sales.

Consider investing in learning sales techniques, understanding the basics of persuasion, and participating in industry networking events.

So, next time an opportunity comes around, you’ll know how to close the deal and seize it!

Lateral-Thinking and Problem-Solving

Lateral thinking - or a more creative approach to solving everyday challenges - is a vital skill for entrepreneurs. When running your own business, you can only rely on your own ability to “think outside the box” to overcome everyday hurdles, from finding clients to developing business relationships or sourcing funds.

As defined by Edward de Bono in the 1960s, lateral thinking involves having the willingness to look at a problem in another light, taking a more holistic approach to a single challenge, and pairing logical pathways with a more creative outlook.

While learning to think laterally is essential for self-employed professionals who can’t count on several teams to solve everyday challenges, mastering this skill is not an overnight project.

Ways to develop your lateral thinking abilities include putting yourself out of your comfort zone, using mind maps, allowing for external mental stimulation, and finding answers to random questions.

Accountability and Ability to Bounce Back from Failure

When running your own company, failure is a matter of “when” not “if”. However, not all failures and setbacks are fatal for a business, and they can offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to learn from a mistake or pivot into new markets or audiences.

Don’t forget that the entire process of building a competitive and innovative business is itself a learning curve. Just following the path most traveled might be a low risk alternative, but will cause you to always be a step behind innovators and trend-setters.

According to Failure Lab co-founders Jordan O’Neil and Jonathan Williams, entrepreneurs should actively seek failure, rejection, and setbacks to learn to deal with them and treasure those teachable moments.

Focused on Health and Self-Care

No matter whether you are just starting out on your new project, working on a side-hustle or looking to take your well-established company to the next level. Running your own business can be exhausting, both mentally and physically.

That is why successful entrepreneurs are those who can define a healthy work-life balance, focus on self-care daily, and work towards building a stronger, more energetic body.

From establishing an efficient fitness routine to spending time with your family, focusing on health and wellbeing can help you build a stable mind, reduce stress levels, and think more clearly. And, it can help you get mentally and physically ready for long hours of work!

Forward-Thinking and Risk-Taking

One of the greatest benefits of having your own small business or being self-employed is that your venture is more agile than most.

This means that you can easily pivot and adapt to market changes and emerging trends. But to do so, you’ll need to have the right mindset, which is the one of a forward-thinking entrepreneur and risk-taking investor.

Of course, you should be clear on your business’s value proposition and mission, and setting the right short and long-term goals will help you stick to your vision. But your ultimate competitive advantage is in being a step ahead of market changes and adjusting your offer to keep yourself current.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and Running Your Own Business

The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and
Running Your Own Business

If you are thinking about running your own business, or already do so, but feel that you need some guidance, then this eBook is for you. It takes you through self-employment in easy steps, helping you to ensure that your business has more chance of success.

The Skills You Need Guide to Self-Employment and Running Your Own Business is the guide no new or aspiring entrepreneur can afford to be without!

Based on our popular self-employment and entrepreneurship content.

Still Have Skills to Master? Self-Employed Professionals are Always Learning

If you feel like your skillset isn’t complete, you are not alone. Less than 25% of professionals feel very prepared to face the challenges of running a business in this economic climate.

However, the entire success of your business relies on your knowledge and skills. That is why it is essential for any freelancer or entrepreneur to find a mentor, invest in themselves, and continue learning throughout the life of their business.

About the Author

Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.