Research shows that people who move successfully into self-employment have a clear vision for what they want to achieve both commercially and personally. In other words they know what the business is going to offer, to which customer groups and to which geographical market, as well as what is important to them as individuals.

Now you may think that, being an HR professional, your business offering is already pretty clear.  But as any readers of HRZone know, HR is a broad subject with lots of different services and offerings contained within it.  And like a lot of professions it is applicable to organisations of all shapes, sizes, industries, structures etc. 

Have you really thought through what exactly you want to be doing on a day to day basis, who you want to be doing it for and whether they will be willing to pay for your skills?

Establishing a clear vision is easier said than done. Many people who are thinking of becoming self-employed do not have a clear ready-made image of how they would like things to look in the future. It may take time and effort to develop such projections particularly because to be really powerful they need to be as vivid and as rich in details as possible. 

In order to describe your ideal future you need to use your imagination. You want the picture of the ideal future to be as vivid and rich in detail as possible. One way to do that is “future projection”. Imagine that you are in the future and then describe the situation as if it was the current situation. 

To appreciate the concept, consider the following questions: 

“Imagine it is a year from now and the transition to self-employment has been unbelievably successful, better than you could possibly have imagined, what are the signs that the transition has been successful?

The idea is to pitch yourself into the future, in specific, observable detailed terms. What are you doing? What are you saying? Who are you with?

After answering the above broad question, 7 specific questions to answer to get to the details are:

1.  What days or months are you working? This will establish your specific work pattern and schedule.

2.  What are you doing on the days you work? Here you want to detail the specific activities you are carrying out on a daily basis.

3.  Where are you on the days you work? You need to outline what geographical area you will be in and whether you will be working from home, working from premises, out on a client site etc.

4.  Who are working with? This will establish whether you are working on your own or with others and the names of anyone you’re working with.

5.  Who are you doing work for? If possible, name a specific individual or organisation rather than just an industry or general description.

6.  What are your clients saying about you that tells you what great value you’re adding? This will help you think about what problems you’re helping your clients solve and what results you deliver for them.

7.  What do you now know about what makes you different from other individuals and businesses in the field? This will help elicit your key talents and distinctive characteristics that set you apart from others.

Since you are already in the future, projected there by the miracle of imagination, you don’t have to worry about how you get there for the time being. When you have a sufficiently rich, detailed vision you will be in a position to work back from there to the steps you need to take in order to make progress.

Now, some people shy away from imagining positive visions of the future in this way because they think it’s fanciful and unrealistic. And it may be. But this is a tool for starting the transition to self employment, not an expectation that a miracle is about to happen.

Your vision will of course need to be balanced with reality, flexibility and the ability to “go with the flow”. While your broad vision may stay the same, the details will evolve and develop as your experience grows. But starting by imagining a positive future is a powerful way to increase the likelihood of achieving a great result. 

Having hopes for your HR business, dreaming about being a success and working hard to make that dream come true is what will give all the hard work meaning. When times are tough it will remind you why you’re doing this and what it will be like when you get there.

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