Starting and running your own business can be an exhilarating and fulfilling process. Who doesn’t dream about charting their own path, making their own decisions, and being their own boss? But all too often, self-employed women are overworked, overstressed, and underpaid. More importantly, they’re simply underappreciated. If you’re self-employed, or are considering starting your own business down the road, make sure you’re being your very best boss. And that means investing in your business and investing in yourself:
1. Invest in a great benefits package
As an entrepreneur, you get freedom and flexibility, but you lose the company-provided benefits package and other perks of a full-time employee. When self-employed, you’ll need to invest in your own healthcare and retirement. Make a list of what you need/want and talk to an insurance broker about your possible insurance options. Consider joining an association or professional organization that offers group-based health coverage to its members. Depending on your business structure, you may find you can deduct most, if not all, of your insurance premiums for you and family members. Additionally, as a small business owner, you have a range of possible retirement plan choices, from SEP to SIMPLE IRA plans. I know you may be hesitant to tie up money you might need for your everyday expenses. However, if you’re self-employed, you’ll need to get started on retirement savings now, even if it means just a small investment of $25/month. Talk with a financial planner/CPA about the best retirement program for your situation and taxes.
2. Invest in your education and enrichment
Don’t hesitate to invest in conferences, training sessions, classes, even networking events. You’ll be able to learn new skills, gain insight needed to expand your business, and make valuable contacts. Look for relevant industry events, local chamber of commerce events, and classes at a local college or community center.
3. Invest in technology or anything that will help you do your job better
Are you struggling with an older computer or flaky printer? Frugality is good, but don’t hold the purse strings too tightly when it comes to those expenses that could help you be more productive and satisfied from day to day. Consider upgrading in a new computer, mobile device, software program or online tool that can help you get more done in a day.
4. Invest in the legal/administrative aspects of your business
If you’re self-employed, then you are 100% responsible for your business. This means it’s up to you, and you alone, to make sure your business is compliant with any license and permit requirements. You should also consider forming an LLC or corporation for your business. While the legal fine print may not be the most glamorous part of your business, it can be essential to your business and personal financial health. An LLC or Corp will protect your own personal assets from any liability of the company (so, if your company happens to be sued, your personal savings, etc. are shielded).
5. Invest in your peace of mind
Running your own business is not easy, so be sure to acknowledge each success (no matter how small) and pat yourself on the back. After all, you no longer have a boss to recognize your hard work ⎯ it’s up to you to keep yourself motivated and inspired. Be sure to reward yourself for specific milestones like a big client win, meeting a tough deadline, or working ‘overtime’ for multiple nights on end. Your reward can be whatever you like…a manicure, drinks with friends, or just a quiet night unplugged from the computer and cell phone. Just make sure you check any guilt at the door ⎯ you DESERVE whatever reward comes your way!
Nellie Akalp is CEO of CorpNet.com, her second incorporation filing service based on her strong passion to assist small business owners and entrepreneurs in starting and protecting their business.