The self-employment dream: 7 tips for success

I’ve always been a late bloomer. At age 46, and as mum to toddler Matthew, I am in the process of establishing a career consultancy to support my passion for people and my desire to help revitalise careers. I’m doing this despite knowing the odds of survival are not great (just over 50% of new sole trader businesses survive the first few years).

As I go about organising a website, watching marketing webinars, developing products, contacting prospective clients or organisations who might consider me for contracting, my to-do list feels endless. Although it’s still early days on this journey, the lessons have already been plentiful.

My vision board
My vision board

I have a few tips that might be useful for anyone considering the self-employment option who would like to increase the odds:

  1. Reach out to people in your target industry. It’s all about the relationships! I have been invited to training sessions and development opportunities purely because of relationships I have developed. I cold contacted another career consultant I found via the LinkedIn industry group and down the track undertook a placement with her which has led to a contracting relationship.
  2. Join an industry association if there is one. If it’s within your budget, go to a conference to expand your network and update your industry knowledge. I was fortunate enough to form a valuable mentoring relationship with someone I met at national conference in 2013.
  3. Engage with other small business owners. I joined the Chamber of Commerce through which I’ve had access to speakers on a range or relevant topics and a bunch of people who have been where I am now. I also met someone who develops fantastic $200 websites that are perfect for start-ups (of course I had already engaged a company at more than 10 times that cost!)
  4. If you have the budget consider a business coach, or at least find a mentor. My business coach has helped me develop a vision for my business, identify my products and customers and an action plan but, more importantly, has helped me understand the importance of my mindset to success.
  5. Research the different free and/or subsidised resources out there for small business. A number of government funded programs such as Certificate IVs in Small Business are subsidised, making them very accessible to start-ups.
  6. Whatever business you think you are in, regard yourself as a marketing business. These wise words came from a Tom Poland webinar I watched recently. We can be fantastic at what we do but unless we can attract customers we don’t have a business.
  7. Believe in yourself. This is one I have to practice daily but I find the words of Henry Ford invaluable “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right”.

Do you have your own small business? What words of wisdom would you offer. Or, what small business would you like to start?

140218 Donna profile140218 Donna profile 140218 Donna profile 2Donna is a degree-qualified HR professional with postgraduate qualifications in career development and a passion for people. She is a committed career changer and multiple redundancy survivor who spent 15 years consulting across the full spectrum of HR corporately. In her new role she runs one-on-one and group career training and coaching, outplacement, and career management programs through her business Career Vitality. On the side, Donna facilitates CareerSmart Mums to empower women to make career choices that work for them personally.
Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


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