5 Tips for a Successful Transition from Employed to Self-Employed

successful transition from employed to self-employed

The grass is always greener on the other side. Whether you work from home, or in a traditional office environment, there comes a time when there’s a yearning for the opposite scenario to apply!

“You work from home?  You lucky thing!  I’d love to work from home.”  I’m often told by friends who work in an office.  On the other hand, I often hear home working friends say they miss the social aspect of working with others.

As someone who has gone from full-time employment in an office, to full-time self-employment working from home, I can genuinely understand why the grass seems greener on the other side.

For example, if you’ve not experienced working from home, I can appreciate why on the face of it, it appears to be wonderfully liberating. Complete freedom, no boss breathing down your neck, cups of tea whenever you feel like it, a jaunt to the shops on a whim.  What is there not to like?!

By the same token, if you work from home, you might miss working in a more structured environment, with the social interaction of your colleagues. There’s also the blurred lines between work and home life, which can be overwhelming, if not all-consuming.

The truth is, both of these working scenarios have positives and negatives, and the bottom line is that work is still work, no matter the environment it happens to be conducted in.

Now, after many years of working for myself, I simply try to apply the same rules to working from home as I did when I worked in an office as an employee. It’s proving to be a great solution for me so far.


Here are my top tips for a successful transition from employed to self-employed.

  1. Get up at a set time/Start at a set time:  Just as you would, if you had to travel to an office environment. The novelty of working from home can initially cause a certain amount of giddiness. It’s exciting to be able to simply walk to the next room, rather than having to commute on a cold wintry day. However, tempting it might be to loaf around until you feel ‘inspired’ trust me, you will be far more productive if you treat your home office as if you have a boss breathing down your neck. After all, time IS money when you work for yourself, You can’t afford to fritter it away.
  2. Dress for work:  As tempting as it might be to hang around in your comfy PJs, it will subconsciously make you feel far too relaxed to knuckle down to serious work. You obviously don’t need to don a suit (unless that’s your thing), but if get into the habit of dressing is if you were going to work (which of course you are), it will help you feel motivated to work.
  3. Take set breaks:  Yes the kettle is always nearby, day time TV is within easy reach, and no one can tell you when or when not to take a break. But once again, discipline is required.  Yes, have a cup of tea, take a break but limit yourself just as you would if you worked in an office.
  4. Find a suitable working space:  If you have a small office in your house, that’s perfect. If not, clear a space and deck it out with some smart folders for your paperwork, desk trays and office stationery. To work well, you need to be in work mode. So, I’ve found it’s not a good idea if I try work at the kitchen table, lie on my bed, or relax on the sofa. A quiet space or room free from distractions to replicate a real office space is best. I also keep the door shut while I’m working, which my household understands is a clear signal to “DO NOT DISTURB!”
  5. Stay in touch with colleagues or friends:  Working from home can be isolating, with no-one immediately on hand to lend some support. But thankfully, the Internet and social media has made the world a sociable place. So meet-up with people on-line, or better still, be sure to get off your butt and meet friends and colleagues out of your home for a break. There are plenty of forums where you can chew the cud with other freelancers/home workers too, which is handy if you need some moral support.

Those are my 5 tips for a successful transition from employed to self-employed, but what would you add?

Image: Flickr


I’m Mary Cummings, a ghostwriter, collaborator and all round word doctor. I help business owners write and publish business books; I'm also passionate about helping creative freelancers find work that they love - their work sweet spot with work on their terms, projects they love and clients who are a dream to work for.