Leaving a job to start a business: Navigating the transition between ‘employed’ and ‘self-employed’

Here at CANDESCENT, our vision is to support business women, regardless of whether you’re a freelancer, a small business owner or a creative of any kind. We’re here to help you build a business you are proud of through supporting your marketing ventures.

With this vision is the likely possibility that many of the women we work with have previously been employed, before moving into the world of self-employment. This, we know, is not an easy journey. 

Especially in the early days of your business, you’re battling a million distractions, having to manage the transition from working under someone to working for yourself, possibly managing a new team all whilst surviving the day-to-day grind. This may feel very unfamiliar, especially if you’ve been working for someone until now. 

From the security and structure of employment to the murky waters of ‘working for yourself’, becoming a self-employed business owner brings many challenges and is not as simple as many believe it to be before they make the jump. You’re in control, and that means a little extra responsibility for your business.

If you’re questioning whether to switch from employed to self-employed, or you’ve made the leap and are struggling to keep your head above water, this blog will cover our top 10 tips for how to make the jump from employed to self-employed as smooth and enjoyable as possible. From time management to finding motivation, you’ll learn how to embrace all that self-employed life has to offer and know how to build a balanced, healthy and rewarding life as a self-employed business owner.


CANDESCENT’s Top 10 Tips for
Self-Employment Bliss

This blog has multiple insights into how you can better your experience of self-employment after walking away from employment:

  1. Set yourself goals,
  2. Organise your time,
  3. Change your mindset,
  4. Compartmentalise,
  5. Make a To-Do list,
  6. Schedule breaks and relaxation time,
  7. Delegate,
  8. Build a network,
  9. Embrace unforeseen problems,
  10. Don’t give up.

Let’s have a look at these tips in more detail…


1. Set yourself goals:

When you began working as an employee, there was probably an expectation of what you would achieve whilst in the position, whether that be in a week, a month, or a longer term goal running across a business year. Now, it’s up to you what goals you set yourself. It’s your business, and so all the decisions fall to you.

The first thing to do when you become a business owner is this: what do you want to achieve?

Being very clear on this from the get go will give you the vision you need and will help you decide how you are going to split your time so you can be the most productive and your business can flourish. 

Without a direction, it is easy to let the difficulties of self-employed life creep in; when you decide to make the leap, set yourself achievable goals to give yourself a sense of purpose, and this is sure to give you the boost of confidence you need to make your business dreams a reality.


2. Organise your time:

With this in mind, it’s now time to figure out how you’re going to make these goals happen. As an employee, you were most likely working on someone else’s schedule. However, now you’re self-employed, you are in the position to set yourself a timetable.

Firstly, what hours of the day do you intend to class as ‘working’ hours? When will you take a lunch break, and how long for? These are the decisions that were probably made for you when you were an employee, and now you have the chance to work on a schedule that suits you. Setting these expectations at the start will give you a blueprint to work from, so you can get into a solid routine and figure out how you can be productive.

There are so many benefits to this, the main one being that you can schedule your work time where it suits you. Rather than walking your kids to school whilst checking emails and quickly eating your breakfast on your way into the office, you can create your own timetable that works best for you and your circumstances.

However, there are challenges that come with working on your own schedule. It’s very easy to become so engrossed with work that you soon forget about everything else. Remember: be realistic and give yourself the space you need to both be productive and, crucially, time to relax. This is covered in more detail below.

It’s also absolutely okay to work with a few different timetables at first. Trying different routines out will allow you to find the one that suits you the best, so come up with several different timetables and see how your mind and body reacts. 


3. Change your mindset:

At this point, you might be thinking – why did I think this was ever a good idea?

When you become self-employed, it can be easy to focus on all of the negatives: the extra stress, the extensive workload, the mountain of decisions. However, by treating these things as mere ripples in the water as you make your journey to business bliss, you’ll be able to keep the energy high and remain motivated to tackle any challenges that come your way.

Of course, life as an employee may seem a lot simpler right now and much more attractive, but this is a journey you know you want to take, even if it is offering more pressure than it is pleasure right now. Remember why you made the decision to switch from employed to self-employed and keep reminding yourself of these things, and you’ll soon start to see light at the end of the tunnel. 


4. Compartmentalise:

Here’s something that can help you help with changing your mindset. Compartmentalising your responsibilities is so useful for ensuring you can manage your workload whilst also staying highly motivated. 

Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Instead, put things into compartments – if you’re a visual person, make separate lists of all the things you need to get done in terms of priority, so you can see what needs to be done. Or, you could create a calendar for yourself and colour-code different tasks by theme so it can help you visualise which areas of your workload need a little more attention.

This one also goes hand in hand with our next tip…


5. Make a To-Do List:

Having a list of everything you want to achieve during any particular day will give you the structure you need to be productive. Whereas you may have been given a pre-set workload when you were employed, you’re the one setting the workload now, whether that’s just for yourself or for your business’ team.

Whilst also making sure you don’t forget anything you need to complete during the day, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes along with ticking a task off your list when it’s complete and seeing your progress at the end of the day. It’s all about making you feel productive and successful, so maybe try the To-Do list method and see whether it transforms your schedule!


6. Schedule breaks and relaxation time:

Your To-Do lists must not be solely work-focused; make sure you schedule in time to relax, take a break and do the things you love. 

Taking a step back from work is so important for rejuvenating and recuperating, as you’ll be able to gain some well-earned distance and let your brain and body rest. This is so important for keeping yourself focused and motivated in the long term, as working 24/7 will not be of any benefit to your mental and physical wellbeing.

Try taking a walk every day between work tasks, or enroll in a yoga class or language workshop to channel your energies into something completely unrelated to your business. Spend time with family and friends, watch your favourite movies, read the books that have been sitting on your shelf for years; any activities that make you feel relaxed and content are the ones you should invest time in, as they’ll help take your mind off work and give you the boost of energy you need to thrive in both your personal and business life.

If you’re looking for more ways you can prioritise your personal life in tandem with your work life, why not check out this blog on improving your work-life balance as a business owner, or our article on combating toxic productivity?   


7. Delegate:

As a self-employed business owner, you are likely to become a leader in some capacity. Not only are you leading your business, you may be leading a team of employees. Being a leader means having the ability to delegate. If you have a team of people behind you, make sure to use them by delegating responsibilities across the team. This will ensure you aren’t left with a heavy workload and you can rather focus on the tasks only you can do whilst your team takes care of the rest.

As a business owner, you not only have your business to worry about, but your home life too. Delegation does not only apply in your work life; delegate as much as you can in your personal life if and where you are able to. Speak to family members and friends if you need support with daily tasks, and figure out a workload in both your business world and your home world that works best for you.


8. Build a network:

As a self-employed business owner, it can be very easy to slip into a self-contained environment. Whilst working as an employee is likely to mean you’re part of a team or you have a leader to look to, if you’re running solo your network becomes significantly smaller. You may find that having no one around you who is a professional in your industry will contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

Building a network as a self-employed business owner is just as important as when you were working your way up the career ladder whilst working for another company. Connect with other like-minded business owners through social media, join business support groups with similar interests, and attend networking events to build your presence in your industry and make connections. Making these additions to your working life will reduce the loneliness of being a business owner, and you’ll also make strong, supportive connections who you can learn a lot from too!


9. Embrace unforeseen problems:

When you’re self-employed and running a business, it’s likely there will be many unforeseen problems and struggles that will meet you along your journey. Now that these problems are your sole responsibility to deal with and are not things you can simply pass onto your manager, it’s understandable that you may feel the pressure more acutely than if you were working as an employee and you were surrounded by a management team.

The best thing you can do to prepare for being faced with unanticipated issues is to accept the reality of this, as acceptance will help you deal with the issues head on when they arise. Adopting the mindset that these eventualities are normal and can be expected will mean they’ll come as less of a shock. When dealing with these issues, remain calm and keep your cool. Channel the experience you gained as an employee in these situations, and trust that you have the capability to carry yourself and your business through them.


10. Don’t give up:

When starting out as a self-employed business owner, the single most important thing to remind yourself is to not give up. You’ll be facing new challenges every day as you navigate the world of business and embark on the journey to creating the business you’ve been dreaming of creating, and it’s going to be difficult at times. 

This is all the more reason to maintain the determination you had when you set out and keep driving forward. The struggles and pressures will all be worth it in the long term, so don’t let the extra stress get in the way of reaching your full business potential. 


Overall, the world of a self-employed business owner brings its own challenges. However, the rewards are definitely worth it. Keep reminding yourself of why you made the transition from employment to self-employment, and use these tips to ensure you create a life you love. 

And, if you’re looking for a daily dose of inspiration, make sure to follow us @WeAreCandescent as we’re always sharing motivational posts from the CANDESCENT Team and our fellow business owners!



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