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3 Mistakes Almost Every Newly Self Employed Person Makes

It's not easy going solo and taking on the working world single-handedly, especially when you don't have any self-employed contacts to give you advice, or any experience of running your own “gig” to fall back on.

In this article we're going to assume you've got the basics sorted out; you've registered for self assessment, you've sorted out your national insurance contributions, you're putting away 20% of your earnings over £10k to make sure you're not hit by a tax bill you can't afford. You get the picture. Instead we're going to be taking a look at a few of the subtleties that newbie self employed people get wrong time and time again. While these mistakes won't ruin your enterprise, avoiding them can certainly be a boon to your fledgling business.

To help you get it right first time, avoid these three common mistakes...

1. Targeting the wrong people

1When you first set out as self employed, you're going to be super enthusiastic about your service. From pubs and parks to your mum's on Sunday, it's likely that you'll be trying to sell to everybody.

Don't waste your energy. And don't risk your friendships!

Instead take time to think about who your service is really for and why what you do is a good fit for them, then pursue this client base with well thought out flyers, leaflets, social media – whatever medium is appropriate and helps you to connect. Pick up the wrong client who isn't a good fit for your business and it will only ever be a headache of a job.

2. Putting on an “act”

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Many self employed people are a little nervous about telling people that they're a one man (or woman) band. This can feel exposing and many worry it will make them seem less trustworthy or professional. But putting on a front can confuse and ultimately put off customers, especially when the truth comes out – it's also a huge waste of energy. Be proud of your independence and make sure you shout about its benefits; from personal attention and better customer service to lower costs and customers will appreciate your honesty.

3. Spending too little

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While you categorically do not want to spend too much when you first start out as self employed (remember that 20% rule!), skimping can be a big problem too. As a tradesperson, your equipment is your livelihood; vans, tools, materials – these are the things which will allow you to work to the best of your abilities. Do not skimp on the essentials. If a client is left waiting for weeks while you source an essential piece of kit, or you do a substandard job because of your tools, you'll earn a bad reputation before you've really begun.

Did you make any of these mistakes when you became self employed? Share your experience and tips with new and aspiring self employed tradespeople below.