While business rules are a commonplace theme in corporations and large enterprises, the context of business rules applied to the world of self-employment is, at the very least, obscure. Business rules are enacted by companies in order to supplant structure and to influence the behavior of not just employees, but the entity as a whole.
Business rules don’t have to be documented — but are certainly most helpful in written form because they exist to help a company meet its goals. They should be available for reflection and modification as necessary. As a member of the self-employed workforce, you would imagine that you create your own business rules, and this is true to an extent. If you work from home or on the road, you can set your own dress code, work schedule, and how much you charge for services. But there are unseen business rules that exist for the self-employed that aren’t obvious to the general public.
Imposed Rules from Outside Forces
The industry of self-employment is often heralded for its lack of standard business rules. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still rules imposed by society and other forces you have to abide by.
For example, when a self-employed person goes to take a mortgage out on a house, lenders have strict regulations that serve as business rules upon that person’s enterprise. Lenders review income and assets in order to determine your monthly payment and how much of a down payment you can make. Self-employed borrowers have to report income as a sole proprietor – a business rule – and must qualify using their net income from Schedule C.
An additional business rule for the self-employed looking to buy property is the necessity of using a 24-month average of net income as opposed to the standard yearly income of salaried employees. So, although business rules are not enacted upon self-employed individuals by overseeing companies, society has developed their own methods of influencing the behavior of these individuals.
Self-Imposed Business Rules
Though it seems contradictory to the nomad lifestyle many self-employed people enjoy, rules can be beneficial. A powerful tool for any freelancer or self-employed individual is to impose business rules upon themselves and showcase them in a formal business plan. Business rules should be detailed enough to produce a consistent result, and as such, apply repeatedly to applicable situations. These can include both behavioral and definitional business rules.
Examples of Self-Imposed Behavioral Business Rules
Behavioral business rules are intended to direct and/or modify a person’s conduct. While imposing behavioral rules upon yourself might seem ridiculous, it can easily translate into enhanced productivity. Enacting rules of conduct for yourself is a powerful motivator and writing them down can keep you focused when mitigating business activities.
For example, you can set yourself to working on a specific project for four hours a day or a minimum of 16 hours for any given week. Rather than imposing a general rule such as “I will work 40 hours a week” break it down into specific projects that will help influence and guide your behavior to a degree of specificity.
Another example of a self-imposed behavioral rule could be to charge x-amount for each project of y-type work. Another example could be limiting what you post on your social media accounts. Social media posts have been known to make or break companies. Even if you think a meme is really funny or want to share a political article, decide what your social media rules will be before you make any posts.
Examples of Self-Imposed Definitional Business Rules
Establishing proof within the sphere of self-employment might seem tricky but can actually be quite simple. “I must file my taxes as a Sole Proprietor” is not necessarily a self-imposed rule but it is definitely definitional. Self-imposed examples could be “A long term client has provided work for a minimum of 90 days and is eligible for x-rate.” Definitional business rules can add value to different types of clients and, in a sense, keep the self-employed person both organized and better equipped to meet the goals of their specific business plan.
Web Driven Business Rules
When your business persists primarily on the Internet or within the realm of the online world, it is subject to definitional and behavioral business rules imposed upon you by the web. For example, if you want to register your domain name with a specific tool, you must first check to make sure that domain name is actually available.
When trademarking a name for your business, you must first make sure that no one else owns copyrights to that entity. These examples are just the most basic forms — there is a slew of business rules enacted by the web and all of the platforms upon which you operate your business, whether you’re a salaried employee or self-employed. Defining business rules is an extremely complex topic and it’s helpful to do further reading.
Business is Business, for the Employed and Self-Employed Alike
As a business owner, especially a small business owner, many people think that you make your own rules because you are your own boss. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Rules imposed from an outside force and web rules are sometimes much easier than self-imposed rules. All three types are important and have their own challenges, but are a must if you want to be successful in business.
No matter what or who prompts those rules to be in place, remember that they are there for a reason. You may have made a self-imposed rule to have normal work hours because you found that you were losing sales or missing deadlines because of your shorten or unusual hours. Another rule, which is both self-imposed and web-driven, could be that you are connected to your social media accounts during all waking hours so that you don’t miss a chance to interact with a customer. Slow response time could cause you to lose a sale. The point is, no matter what type of rule, do your best to follow it.