Be Your Boss - Tips to Get You Started

Monday, October 22, 2018

One of the hardest skills that I needed to learn when I decided to break up with my career as a lawyer in pursuit of a new one as a writer was how to be your boss. 

Up until then, I had always had a team of supervisors, and higher-up’s watching my every move to make sure that things were done correctly and in a timely fashion. 

Likewise, I always knew where my next paycheck was coming from along with basic perks like health insurance, a retirement fund, and even something as simple as office supplies.

When I decided to do it alone as a freelance writer, all of that was shot to the wind. First time in my life, I was the only one responsible for finding and keeping work and, to be frank, it scared the you-know-what out of me.

Learning to be your boss can be a daunting feat but, you’re in luck because I did the hard work for you! These are my top tips for putting on the good ol’ boss man hat and living the freelancing lifestyle of your dreams:

Set Professional Boundaries

Setting professional boundaries is absolutely essential for a healthy work/life balance.
Setting professional boundaries is absolutely essential for a healthy work/life balance.

Like any seasoned manager will tell you, professional boundaries are essential when establishing a healthy work/life balance. 

Whether you intend on hiring a small team to help you or you’ll just be interacting with clients on your own, professional boundaries are critical to sustaining the longevity of your new business venture. 

So, what exactly do I mean by professional boundaries? Use this list of questions to get started:

  • When are you open for business? Nights and weekends? Traditional business hours?
  • What modes of communication do you intend to use? Which ones are off-limits?
  • What is your plan for your business when you take a vacation?
  • What are your must-have’s when looking for the ideal client? What about your deal breakers?

Give Yourself a Schedule

Learn how to schedule your day and make some order in your work/life balance!
Learn how to schedule your day and make some order in your work/life balance!

Along those same lines, you absolutely must give yourself a schedule! Why? Because even the most easygoing of bosses need some sort of structure, that’s why! 

You don't need a rigid schedule per se, just something that you can refer to when the latest show on Netflix or that family reunion start to look appealing and distract you from your work (which, let’s be honest, has happened to nearly all of us at some point or another). 

Read more: Hints That You're Ready For a New Job

Depending on your field and the scope of your business, your schedule might be regular business hours, or it may be a total amount of time you’d like to commit to specific tasks each week. 

However you slice it, just make sure you write it down and stick to it! Time management is essential if you want to be your boss!

Learn About Budgeting (or hire somebody that already does!)

The importance of budgeting skills are undeniable in the business world.
The importance of budgeting skills are undeniable in the business world.

No small business or freelancing career is truly successful without at least some form of basic budgeting knowledge. I know what you’re thinking and believe me, I felt the same way myself, but as mundane and tedious as this skill set may be, it’s critical to the success of your business. 

Read more: Home Business Ideas Where You Can Be Your Boss

If budgeting for business supplies and filing your own taxes at the end of the year really isn’t your style, then by all means, hire a pro (just make sure it’s in your budget!). Be your boss and do something about it!

Keep Track of Your Expenses

Bookkeeping is another essential skill for those who want to start their own business.
Bookkeeping is another essential skill for those who want to start their own business.

If you decide to hire a tax professional or a bookkeeper to crunch your numbers, you still need to develop some system for tracking your business expenses. 

After all, your tax accountant isn’t in the trenches with you every day and has no idea whether that pack of 18 colored Sharpies was for your work or a new craft project. 

For me, a simple Excel spreadsheet does the trick, and I try my best to input expenses as they pop up or, at the very least, at the end of the week. 

As a small business owner, these funds can make a massive difference between a smile and a tear come tax season, so believe me when I say you’ll want to start tracking as soon as possible and stick to your chosen system! Be your boss and spend wisely! 

Cut Yourself Some Slack

Remember to always treat yourself with respect, even if all else fails.
Remember to always treat yourself with respect, even if all else fails.

When all else fails, cut yourself a bit of slack. Learning to be your boss is a job in and of itself a lot of the time and rarely comes easily to any of us. 

I can guarantee you; you will run into a few snags and hiccups along the way, but these mistakes always teach us something and make us a better business owner or freelancer. 

Read more: How To Follow Your Gut

When in doubt, ask yourself if you’re treating yourself with the same level of respect and professionalism that you used to expect from any other boss you encountered in your lifetime. 

You may be surprised that to realize that you’re becoming your own version of HR’s worst nightmare and need to treat yourself with a bit of compassion moving forward!

Elizabeth Murray freelance content writer at aSabbatical.com
Traveling is about expanding your mindset and challenging every custom, tradition, and way of life you thought you knew.