Advice for the Self Employed – Lessons I Wish I Knew on Day One

Small Advice for the Self Employed - Lessons I Wish I Knew on Day One


A friend who is considering self employment asked me if I had any advice. Are you kidding?

I’m a fountain of advice!

But I started thinking…what are my biggest lessons or lessons  about being self employed I wished I learned on day one?

That’s not so easy to figure out. So I did some thinking and whittled down my life’s work to the following three pieces of advice.

Lesson #1 – The Captain Can Lead or Go Down With the Ship

When you’re self employed, you are the captain of your ship. This seems obvious. But so many self employed people blame everyone else for their problems. It’s so easy to blame someone else when your business takes a hit. The market is bad, the product sucks, clients are blood-sucking leaches…

I spent too many years blaming other people for my issues. But who is steering this ship? ME!

If the market is bad, find a way to diversify. If the product sucks, stop selling it. If clients are sucking the life out of you…stop working for them!

It seems crystal clear to me now, but I did not understand this until my ship started sinking.

Lesson #2 – Business is Not for Wimps
Here’s a few things I have had to do:

  1. Break up with a client
  2. Chase clients who owe me money
  3. Be extremely nice and professional to horrible people
  4. Lived with daily stress because business was down
  5. Cleaned the bathrooms, done the taxes, fixed computers, and done every job I couldn’t outsource

If self employed people say it’s always wonderful, they are lying. It’s that simple. It’s hard work, scary, and not for those with weak constitutions.

I wouldn’t chose anything else. But I’m never going to say it’s an easy path.

Lesson #3 – Never Stop Learning

Admittedly, I’m the biggest proponent of solopreneur education on the planet. I’m dedicating my professional life to micro business education. But it’s not just higher education I’m talking about.

Education comes in all forms. Take college classes, adult ed, go to conferences, read trade books & magazines, read business blogs & articles…

The point is you don’t want to be ignorant. Not stupid, but ignorant.

Take advantage of whatever resources are available to you. Be open to learning.

I’ve learned from CEO’s and cleaning ladies. And I’ll continue to learn every day of my life.

What Are Your Biggest Lessons?

I certainly could list a few more, but it’s important to learn from each other (see #3!). Do you agree with my list? What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

Liesha Petrovich is passionate about micro business education. Doesn’t sound sexy does it? But teaching micro business owners how to create success and freedom is. Learn more at Micro Business Essentials and follow her on Twitter

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  1. Great advice Liesha. Couldn’t agree more with all of your points. To these, I would add: Volunteer! Get involved and use your skills and expertise to benefit a worthy non-profit. You’ll feel good, you’ll meet like-minded individuals, you’ll get your name out there – just be sure not to do too much – so that it doesn’t adversely affect your paying cilents.

  2. These are very important points that you touched on in this article. I think the one that I learned and was most important to me was not blaming anything else for my business failure or success. I hear people all of the time talking about saturation, competition etc and it could really get you down. You gotta stay away from those kinds of mindsets. As long as you believe those things are true they are true to you. Thanks for the great information. Looking forward to learning more.

  3. Thanks! I agree Jessica. Mindset is so important, as is taking responsibility.

    And I agree Beth that volunteering is a great way to get out there. I’ve done a lot of that and it’s not only great for business, but also personally rewarding.


  4. You’re list is spot on. I’m newly self employed and the amount of hats I have to wear is the biggest lesson. I’m good at my trade, but it’s all the other stuff that I find myself spending more time on! I really like how you mentioned never stop learning. I can’t tell you how many articles and blogs I’ve read sense being self employed. Great advice!

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