The number of self-employed professionals continues to increase. In 2022, 73.3 million professionals fell into this labor status category in some shape or form.
Some labels for self-employed professionals are freelancers, gig workers, independent contractors, and solopreneurs. And more keep eyeing the possibilities that it provides..
For example, independent contractors can follow their passions in web design, writing, and landscaping. Benefits include:
- Building a business from scratch
- Establishing multiple revenue streams
- Schedule flexibility
- Working remotely
- Picking clients
At the same time, entrepreneurs face several challenges, such as:
- Paying for insurance
- Working long hours
- Inconsistent hours and income
- Learning on the fly
- Staying motivated
The above challenges can quickly become deterrents for individuals who haven’t fully committed to self-employment.
It’s also easy to become complacent, and the attitude carries serious risks. Namely, it leads to sloppiness and errors.
Therefore, maintaining focus is critical to the success of entrepreneurs, no matter how each professional defines it.
What Is a Self-Employed Professional?
A self-employed professional is an individual who receives a 1099 or owns an incorporated business. Self-employment primarily refers to the individual’s tax status, and the United States Internal Revenue Service has expanded it.
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Many individuals who have taken the self-employed road did it to achieve freedom and control over their schedules, opportunities, and income.
Professionals will encounter roadblocks that can deter their motivation or break their focus.
We explore the importance of keeping focus and how to set and achieve goals as a self-employed professional.
Remember Why You Choose Self-Employment
When focusing becomes shaky, remember why you choose self-employment in the first place.
Some professionals made the choice freely. Others took the road to accommodate family circumstances, income considerations, or career advancement opportunities.
Ideally, the employment status allows individuals to make ends meet, care for dependents, and achieve an optimal work/life balance.
Some households require second incomes. Others need in-home help for aging parents or growing children and an income.
Therefore, re-focus by remembering the origin of this phase in your life.
Goal setting requires a thoughtful process and concrete targets. SMART is one goal-setting method to consider.
In this case, SMART is an acronym for:
We’ll discuss income goals for remaining focused as an independent contractor. However, it’s not enough to state that you want to earn more income in 2024.
SMART helps professionals nail down the specifics. For example, some entrepreneurs may seek to acquire three new clients within six months and increase their revenue by 10%.
Others may take a two-week vacation in the summer to Western Europe and unplug.
It’s critical to make goals attainable to avoid becoming discouraged. However, goals should also push entrepreneurs to reach higher.
Establish Income Targets
Money matters. Studies show that the happiest professionals earn between $60,000 to $75,000, not accounting for inflation.
Therefore, income targets help freelancers stay focused. Professionals will experience great times and slow periods. Working smart during overflowing work helps the self-employed pad the sparse slower segments.
Entrepreneurs can control how much they earn hourly, weekly, monthly, and annually. Sometimes hitting income targets requires creativity, salesmanship, and overdelivering on promises.
Thus, income targets help professionals stay on their toes with little room for boredom or lack of focus.
Develop Work/Life Balance Criteria
The term work-life balance reached prominence in the 1970s and 80s when Baby Boomers worked longer hours at the office, spending less time at home and with family.
Researchers note that the term means something different to Baby Boomers and the preceding generations since it depends on generational experiences.
In 2023, it’s possible to overwork, even with attractive payouts. Most self-employed professionals identify as solopreneurs. Thus, most entrepreneurs work in isolated environments.
During goal-setting, consider dependents, loved ones, other people, places, and things that make professionals happy.
Incorporate elements that bring joy and keep you motivated.
Consider the Future
Some freelancing career paths allow professionals to work well into their retirement years. It’s possible to continue writing, designing, and selling in the twilight years.
However, entrepreneurs must plan for the future since they do not receive employment-related retirement benefits. Instead, freelancers invest in themselves at every step.
Retirement planning involves many more components in 2023. Older individuals face the possibility of outliving their retirement savings. The population must also consider that they might develop chronic medical conditions or symptoms that impact their mental health.
Thus, it’s wise for self-employed professionals to consider the future when setting goals.
Working remotely from a beach is very much possible for freelancers. Nonetheless, it takes some planning and forecasting to realize the dream.
The best way to stay focused as a self-employed professional is to remember the origin of the career choice. Then, use the SMART method to establish meaningful goals that you can achieve.