Congratulations, you did it! You decided to start your own business and work at home.
If you are anything like me, you’ve done a ton of research and made a list of all the things you need to start a business.
You might have even signed your first client.
But before you give your two weeks notice there is something very important to consider and plan for – the first week you are working at home.
And that’s where my list of must do’s the first week working for yourself comes in.
You might be thinking what is she talking about? You do have a plan – a great plan!
You are going to wake up and instead of rushing out of the house to get the office on time you are going to open your laptop and work from wherever you want.
And yes, the change of morning routine is one of the awesome perks of working from home.
But when you wake up your first Monday morning what work are you actually going to do? How are you going to find clients and grow a successful business?
My First Morning Working for Myself
I have to admit the first Monday morning of working for myself was a little odd feeling.
I had already signed a great a client and was ready to get to work building my business. I made a cup of coffee, opened my laptop to start the work day and my business inbox was empty. EMPTY!
Not only were there no emails from colleagues or clients waiting for a time-sensitive response there were also no industry morning e-newsletters to sift through.
Before I let the emptiness of my inbox overwhelm me – in the odd way only an empty inbox can do – I quickly opened my notebook and reviewed my plan for the day and week.
I immediately focused on my plan, ignored my empty inbox and got to work.
5 Must Do’s the First Week Working for Yourself
1. Choose your first week of working for yourself to coincide with a conference or meeting.
It is critically important to get out of the house the first week working for yourself.
Business and client development is about building awareness and growing relationships. The best way to grow relationships is in person.
A conference or industry meeting will provide you a great opportunity to nurture existing relationships and build new ones. It is also an easy way to let people know you have gone out on your own.
A colleague of mine actually signed her first client this way.
She had been unexpectedly laid off during a company merger. She gave herself two weeks to wallow in self-pity followed by three weeks to create a business and enjoy the unexpected downtime.
She picked the first week of officially working for herself to coincide with a large monthly meeting she had been attending on and off for years.
While there she shared that she had started her own consulting business. During a break, a couple of people were discussing a new project they were working on and she provided a couple of tips to help maximize the project.
She didn’t sell, she didn’t pitch, she provided valuable advice as she always had. Before leaving she gave them her business card and asked to keep in touch.
Two days later her phone rang. The advice she had provided had been very helpful and they asked if she would consider joining their team on a contract.
If a conference or meeting isn’t possible, taking a class about a topic that will enhance your business and client possibilities is another great option.
2. Update your LinkedIn profile the first morning that you dedicate to working for yourself.
After a living a busy career life with emails and phone calls coming in all day (and night) it can be discouraging to sit at home with no incoming activity.
There is nothing like an inbox full of positive congratulations notes to lift you up and keep you going.
If you have not given your LinkedIn profile much attention I highly recommend using this opportunity to do so. LinkedIn is a great way to build awareness of you and your business.
I’ve found that by posting just a couple times a month my network and page views have grown at a great pace.
I don’t use a sales pitch. Instead I share things related to and of interest to my industry. I also make sure to support colleagues and their posts.
LinkedIn’s premium tools are fantastic for lead generation and lead nurturing. I’ve been able to make real connections with industry leaders by using LinkedIn Navigator.
3. Set up coffee or lunch with three or four people.
Set up coffee or lunch meetings with colleagues, mentors or even friends.
The goal of these outings is threefold – to get out of the house, to test your elevator speech and to learn what is going on at their place of work.
This is also a great way to say thank you to mentors who lent their wisdom and advice while you evaluated this career change.
As mentioned above getting out of the house is critically important to growing a business, even if you are an introvert.
It’s important to develop an elevator speech about your company and there’s no time to start like week one. Use these social outings as opportunities to practice and begin refining your message.
Another key element to business development is learning to ask the right questions.
Asking the right questions will lead prospects to tell you about what kind of help they need. This will allow you to determine the value of your services to them.
Do the services you provide match the need they have? Use this week to practice asking general questions about what exciting or challenging things are happening in other people’s jobs.
4. Sign up for your favorite daily e-newsletters with your new email address.
I really encourage you to do this before you leave your office job.
I was so focused on the details of picking a business name, registering my business, opening a bank account and researching accountants that I didn’t subscribe to any of my daily or weekly reads with my new email address.
I felt out of the loop in my industry until I re-subscribed to many of them.
Industry e-newsletters are also a great way to create a list of topics for conversation during networking opportunities especially when you don’t know anyone in the room.
I also recommend creating an email address specifically for your daily and weekly e-newsletters to keep your business inbox uncluttered.
5. Send thank you and follow up notes.
If sending thank you and follow up notes hasn’t been one of your stronger networking skills this is the perfect opportunity to change that.
Block out 30-45 minutes every Thursday or Friday to hand write notes or send emails.
And if you already have a successful strategy for sending thank you notes, this is a great time to start sending notes congratulating someone for a recent success.
Unbeknownst to me, I was highlighted in a trade publication about the work I am doing with my main client.
I found out when I opened my mail and received multiple copies of the article with handwritten notes from colleagues.
One of the notes was from the CEO of a company that I would love to do work for one day. Notes of recognition can go a long way when you are building business relationships.
If you followed this plan and your laundry is still waiting to be folded until after work hours that’s okay!
Prioritize the activities that will result in lead generation and business growth. Prioritize fueling yourself for the adventure of working for yourself.
I stopped by my old office to say hello at the end of week two and my former boss asked if I was lonely and ready to come back.
Lonely? I was too busy to be lonely!
By following this checklist of essential must do’s the first week working for yourself, you will have shared your new company announcement on LinkedIn with your business network and will have started filling your new inbox with industry news.
You will have attended a meeting or training where you talked with people about your new company and learned about industry trends.
You will also have spent time with colleagues, friends and mentors practicing talking about your new company and asking questions about what they are working on.
And, you will have sent thank you notes.
Speaking of week two, I’ve got some tips to share, including steps to start developing a new business network, in my article Must Do’s Weeks Two and Three Working for Yourself.
How did your first week go? Did these steps help you make the most of your first week? I look forward to hearing about your first week working for yourself in the comments below.