It's January and we're all back to work! For me, this January is pretty much unrecognisable to last January because now I'm self employed. The month is already as busy as ever, with plenty of exciting projects, opportunities and challenges ahead. It's hard work, but it's great.
A lot of people ask me (and anyone who is self employed, I know I'm not special!) many questions about running your own business and being your own boss. For me, it's perfect. That said, it certainly wouldn't be for everyone. These are my 10 reasons why being self employed suits me:
I work hard, and sometimes too hard. I know if I have a deadline how I'll meet it, and it often means sacrificing sleep or fun things, but I run a business so that's it, I can't make excuses. I'm working on making more of a work/life balance, however I'm good at knowing my critical path and how to manage it. Perhaps it's boring, but it's so important, and I wouldn't be where I am now without being a little bit hard on myself.
2. I'm happy in my own company...
...most of the time! Sometimes I do my tree in! But generally speaking I'm happy working on my own. I liaise with clients and retailers on email and the phone each day so it's not like I'm silent. The thing is, if I wasn't happy enough getting on this way then it wouldn't have worked. I do think all the 6 music presenters are my friends though. It also makes going out and seeing friends that bit more fun than it was before. Through being self employed I've got a whole network of friends who do similar things and that's really wonderful.
3. Money, money, money
I'm good with it. I've always worked from being a teenager and have been good at saving for things I want and need. At 21 I paid rent to live in Zone 1 Central London on an entry level buying job salary, so every penny was stretched, but on that I still managed to have fun without getting in any debt. I understand my prices, costs and what money I'm allowed to spend and what has to be squirreled away for the tax man (or woman! I'm getting sick of everyday sexism). The finance part isn't my favourite (let's face it, if it was I could be making a lot more money working in finance as I'm actually pretty good at it!) but I understand it and it doesn't frighten me.
Not getting a regular level salary every month does take some getting used to but with good organisation and planning, it's all fine!
When you're self employed, it seems everyone expects you get up late, work in front of the telly and have afternoons in the pub. Truth is, you can! But those hours will need to be made up elsewhere, and then some. Sometimes I sleep late on a Monday (yes, a Monday!), sometimes I do swan off down the pub on a Friday afternoon... but I work most weekends and at least a couple of nights a week I work until the very small hours. This pattern suits me, and right now I'm the healthiest I've ever been as this lifestyle allows me to be happy and flexible. For me it really works, but I will stress that I REALLY do put in the hours, it is not a doss!
5. Positive & Jolly
Again, this time a couple of years ago you probably would not have called me 'positive', alas now I seem to be renowned for a cheery outlook. Without this I wouldn't succeed as it gives me the ability to turn any negative experiences into a learning experience. Didn't take much money at that event? Well I gave out 50 business cards so who knows! Not got much work through this week? Hooray, time to work on new things! Awkward customer asking for things I haven't done before? An opportunity to try something new. I do swear and stamp my feet plenty too, but generally I can put a good spin on things, which really helps. I also try and see rejection as a challenge.
6. Goodbye Pyjamas!
I do not work in my pyjamas. For some folk that works, but for me it really would not. Every day I get up, sort my hair and face out a little and put proper clothes on, sometimes even shoes too even if I am working from home. It goes back to discipline, dressing a bit slobby doesn't help me, and when I need to pop out to the post office or art shop I want to be able to head straight out, not faff about getting ready.
Similarly, I have a "no telly until 6pm rule". This rule is only cancelled out if I have a long mindless task to do, which is how I got in to Breaking Bad...
I'm not shy. I used to be, and I can be, but I've learnt to ask for opportunities and also for help. It helps to be jolly and say hello when doing markets and events too, and this has got me plenty of work and opportunities. I'm learning to push myself more, but not too much as I always want to retain being helpful and jolly but never pushy.
8. Thank you!
When clients and customers get in touch to say "thank you" it really is personal, thanking me for my work, not the company I work for. There is no better feeling. Nobody is going to offer you "employee of the year" or a bonus for reaching a target, but there are so many perks and privileges to being self employed that totally outweight this. If you're a customer who has sent a thank you email (or card!) then there is a tiny chance you've made me well up, it is the nicest thing.
9. I did something else first.
I worked in another career for a few years and learnt that it wasn't for me. I went through a time of feeling unhappy and unsettled at work, so that when I did make the change to working for myself I was so happy and knew I'd made the right decision - it was almost like I'd "earned" that feeling. On the other side, everything I learnt in my buying career has helped me with my business - from margins and critical paths, to handling suppliers and building a range. This knowledge is invaluable and as I look to grow my business I'm confident that everything I've learnt will continue to help.
10. I'm not afraid to make mistakes
& I've made a few! But nobody is perfect and I'm generally too busy to wallow in them ;)
There are many things I'm still working on, and also things I do miss a little bit about having a "job" as such, but in my opinion I do have the best job for me!