Many people struggle with feeling like their small business or side hustle isn’t official enough. Having a separate phone number can give you and your customers the seal of legitimacy that you’re looking for, as well as a dedicated line for customer or client communication.
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The booming gig workforce
According to a study completed by Upwork and the Freelancers Union, more than half of all workers will be freelancers by 2027. Millennials, the youngest generation currently participating in the workforce, are almost there already, with an estimated 47% of millenials working as freelancers. Even the Boomers are facing-down retirement by participating in the gig economy.
The gig workforce is growing rapidly and the trend shows no signs of stopping. Whether you’re growing your side hustle into something bigger, or you’re just now considering taking the leap, there are a few things you can do to make it easier on yourself.
1. Create a dedicated space for work
Whether you work from home, a co-working space, or the local coffee shop, the first thing I recommend new freelancers and entrepreneurs do is set aside a dedicated space for work. This makes it easier to get “in the zone,” and maintain a better work life balance (whatever that means to you).
Your workspace can be a desk, a table in your kitchen, or a specific section of your couch—all you need to do is make the decision that this is your work space.
Once you’ve set up your work space, dedicate any time you spend there to the business. When you’re in your “office,” it’s not time to watch Netflix or scroll social media. Focus on work.
Simple to say, but not always easy to follow.
2. Separate your personal life and business life
Once you have the workspace situated, the next thing to do is to create boundaries for your personal and business life that you can respect.
If you’re constantly on call and available to clients at all hours, your work is never really finished for the day. On the flip side, if you spend all day at home, you may find it’s hard to get work done. When your time is not managed correctly, this kind of behaviour will take a physical and mental toll.
So it’s imperative to start by setting boundaries. Start with the most ubiquitous communication system: your phone number.
By having a second phone number dedicated solely to your business, you’ll immediately find that it’s easier to focus. Using Burner, you can create a second line on the device you already have. Suddenly, you know which phone calls are work related, and which aren’t, simply by seeing which number is ringing.
Beyond that, you can create boundaries with other tactics, like a work email, dedicated work hours, email check-times, separate calendars, and more.
3. Beat imposter syndrome
Have you set your boundaries, but find them tough to follow? Are you frequently plagued by self-doubt, or think that the grass would be better “if I could just… (finish the sentence).”
Many small business owners and solopreneurs—indeed, most creative people—suffer from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes, defined as people who struggle with internalizing their accomplishments, and have anxiety over being outed as a fraud.
I think that most small business owners and freelancers, as creative and independent people, have at some time felt like an imposter. There are many ways to combat imposter syndrome, but we believe that one of those is by establishing your business as legitimate.
A good first place to start is by creating a separate bank account. If you treat your money like a business, you’ll be on your way to feeling like a business. Since you already have a separate phone number (you do now, right?), you can take other steps such as registering with the state as an official business (i.e. “doing business as” or LLC), registering a domain name, and creating a business card.
Beyond that, look around and try to find a community of like-minded freelancers or entrepreneurs, either locally or online. Facebook groups are a great place to hang out with people like you from around the world. Chances are good that those people battle imposter syndrome, too. Having a support system will go a long way to combatting imposter syndrome so that you can get on with your work.
4. Autoresponders and call/text forwarders
As your business grows, you will need to have the flexibility to maintain a fast response time with clients and customers, even when your personal time is not available.
Burner allows you to do this in a few ways. First, text auto-reply can send a single text message to let someone know you’re away or not able to reply at the moment. If you need more complex autoresponders, the Evernote Connection provides additional sophistication.
If that’s not hands-on enough for you, you have the option to forward texts and calls to another phone number, or pipe them into a Slack channel.
No matter what delegation option you prefer, choosing the right phone number app with all the features you need is essential.
Whether you’re feeling the pressure as you’re starting up, or you just want to make things easier on yourself, implementing these tips can help you feel established and confident in your business.
If you create a dedicated office space, find your ideal work/life balance, face down imposter syndrome, and invest in a second phone number specifically for your business, you can begin to take steps toward your dreams and eventual success.