A lot of people upon reading the headline to this post will have missed the most important word. Perhaps, if you are a contractor or considering going freelance the ‘first’ word would have caught your eye. Then you might have acknowledged the simple wisdom in the idea that contractors should operate as a business and decided to read on. Maybe the title’s promise of sharing a bit of this wisdom is why you are reading the post now…
Don’t worry, I will be doing that shortly. But first, I want to draw your attention back to the word ‘think’. Whether you are a freelance contractor, a small business owner, or the CEO of a massive corporation, the most important thing you can do each day is to ‘think’. Most people don’t – they are too busy doing!
A little bit of thought can free up a whole lot of time!
It is obvious, but largely counter-intuitive when you are busy, that working smarter is more effective than working harder. Here is an example. When you are under time pressure, you tend to eat while you are working and eat bad (junk) food. This, in turn, will mess with your metabolism, make you more tired and possibly even ill. We all know that stopping to eat, sitting down to eat and eating a balanced diet is better for us and fuels our bodies more effectively. But we don’t always make time to make our time more effective. We don’t think.
It is the same in business. When was the last time it came around to doing your accounts, filing some returns, or simply passing some paperwork to your accountant but you couldn’t find it all? Did the ‘I wish I had filed this better at the time’ thought cross your mind?
Thinking, planning and creating processes and self-management systems sounds scary for most contractors, but it is so rewarding once it is done. Imagine having more time, less stress, peace of mind and a clear focus on the present and your future. That is how a smart business has to think – rather than an individual.
But a business has other people to help with the thinking!
If you came to the conclusion above before you actually read it, then congratulations. You are thinking already. That is why contractors or freelancers need to think like businesses. Because it is ‘almost’ impossible (I know a mere handful who manage to do it well) for most people to keep track on it all – all on their own.
The good news is that there is so much help available out there. From day one you can get all the help you need from support institutions and advice networks set up especially to help contractors. Throughout every stage of your journey, from how you structure your business in the first place through to setting up bank accounts, accounting, communicating with customers and planning for the future – help is available.
When you, as a contractor, start to think like a business you genuinely can sleep well at night, feel refreshed every morning and be confident that there are no nasty surprises waiting for you in the day ahead.