In February 2010, with two months gardening leave, the emotional recovery of my marriage ending only 9 months earlier still in full swing, two children, a mortgage and my ever so slightly feisty attitude, I walked out of my job. I worked in the Public Sector and the contract was always going to end and the inevitable fight for another job that failed to satisfy me anyway, would be due to take place soon and I just couldn’t face it anymore.
I left behind a slightly startled Manager, six weeks paid leave, sick pay, mileage allowance and a respectable salary. It wasn’t enough for me on any level and single parenting with a full time job based an hour away, is a comprehensively difficult task for reasons that shouldn’t need detailing.
Two and a bit years of self-employment later and I have learnt more than I could ever have imagined. The very process of getting up each and day and having to take responsibility for my earnings, ensuring that the children have food and warmth, is character building to say the least. So if you’re setting up your business and looking for as much information as possible as to how you can actually make this happen, here’s what can I tell you.
• Get used to having only what you need. When you strip away most of what you spend your money on, much of it only serves to make you feel better about the unsatisfying life you lead. We actually need very little. Strip it right down. Now. And hope that you have lovely friends who pretend to employ you for bits of work that need doing.
• When you first start in business, days off and work/life balance are luxuries spoken of by employed people or people supported by a partner. If it’s just you, prepare to workall day and all night, managing the basics of sleep, food and conversations with your children (if you have them) that are in the very least, done face to face. I absolutely promise that life will not stay like this. I have at least one day off a week now and I balance my life through the days that I do work by working hours that fit around my family and my social life.
• Know this, you will become unemployable fairly quickly. The thirst for making a success of your business will be a driving force that most employers don’t really want in their workplace. No longer limited by other people’s needs and expectations, you can reach as high up to the stars as your wish. Also, taking lunch, starting work and finishing work, will all become time frames that you wish for no-one else to ever interfere with again. In short, once you start on this journey, you’re likely to have to stay on this journey! I call this working to your rhythm.
• Connect with as many people as you can from which you can then find people to form your support group, tribe or team. These are the people that you will learn from and that you will teach, that you will have coffee with and cry with. These are the people that you will grow with and you will form a Network with whereby you recommend each other businesses forming a thriving business community that then connects with other thriving communities.
• You are now several departments. You are Marketing, Personnel, Payroll, Health and Safety, Book Keeper, Social Media Strategist, Communications and, of course, you complete the job itself. It is possible that you have not ever learnt so much information before.
• Being Self-employed is a little like life before children…you really can’t explain it to someone until they’ve done it. It’s hard, it’s amazing, it’s frustrating, it’s fulfilling. Like parenting, it is every emotion and it takes you right through the sleepless nights to that look of love you have on your face as you gaze down at your full diary in a doting fashion and think “I made you”.
A very short introduction to my life in Business which I hope has been helpful to you. This is my own story and I have learnt that I have quite a high propensity to risk taking behaviour (although I think that has lessened somewhat over the years) and this attitude has helped me enormously for the matter in hand.
Running your business is not necessarily about certainty or safety or security, even if these are future goals. But it is definitely about excitement, learning, empowerment, creativity and an overwhelming sense of achievement that I don’t recall feeling since I put myself through my degree while working full time back in the early 1990’s. If I have any regrets, it’s that I didn’t do it sooner!