Making the decision to quit your full time (kind of guaranteed) job, where you get paid an okay-ish salary at the end of every month no matter what, is probably the hardest thing you can ever do. It’s what I did back in September 2012, and while it hasn’t been a completely smooth ride, the bits where I’m coasting along feeling happy, content and free more than make up for the bumpy patches and frankly a little bit shitty times.
Fortunately, attracting and retaining new clients has never been a major headache for me. I suppose I got a lucky break at the start which kind of snowballed into something I felt could be doable. What bothered me was the volume of work I took on that I simply didn’t enjoy. A complete lack of self-confidence meant that I accepted very basic administrative work and all but gave up on the writing and research that I loved so much. In the early days, it was absolutely a case of quantity over quality, and I found myself working a ridiculous amount of hours for low fees doing tasks that killed off every creative spark in my body.
I used to get this screaming voice of self-doubt that would wake me up at 3am in the morning to ask me how on earth I thought I could make enough money to feed my rapidly growing red wine and continental cheese habit. (Not really, but I figured that sounded more interesting and/or dramatic than how was I going to pay my council tax or gas bill.)
I still get the odd moment where I worry about the future or if I’m good enough at what I do, but slowly I’m starting to believe in myself and my ability to keep on doing the work I love.
Anyway, just in case you are at that tipping point and wondering if it’s worth carrying on, take a moment and remember all the reasons you wanted to work for yourself in the first place, and all the things you love about it. Here are my top five awesome things about being your own boss…
- Flexible Working Hours
Anyone who knows me will agree that I am not a morning person. Not before 10am and at least three cups of the strongest Columbian coffee known to man anyhow.
When I worked at my 9-2-5, I hated my alarm clock, I hated dark winter mornings, I hated the rain, and I hated every single sweaty-smelly-overcrowded-minute of my daily commute. But more than that, I hated being tired. Like all the time. In fact, over a period of around eight years, I had become a pretty hateful person. And, yes, you guessed it, I hated myself for it.
When you do any kind of 9-2-5 you automatically surrender your life (and soul some argue) to a pretty anti-social, monotonous routine of get up, work, go home, eat, sleep, annnnd repeat five or six times a week. It’s a bitch of a treadmill to try and get off, but when you do…. Oh, when you do! It’s like a revelation, some kind of marvellous epiphany. Switching that alarm clock off and waking up naturally when your body is rested enough for you to be productive is just great. You also get to switch up your routine whenever you want. Don’t fancy starting work until after lunch? Okay! Work better in the evening? No problem! No one will tell you off and once you figure out what works for you, you won’t feel guilty about taking the afternoon off to potter round the garden in the sunshine.
- You Choose Who You Work With
The colleague from hell…we’ve all been there. (And we all feel the pain when we see harrowing scenes like this.) When you work in a small team having to tolerate someone day in day out who doesn’t follow the strict washing-up protocol (green sponge for mugs, pink for baked bean-caked plates, obviously) even after you’ve barked it at them fifty times before Wednesday, it can quickly become too much to bear.
In all seriousness though, when you work for yourself you get pretty much full control over who you decide to work with. It’s taken me almost two years to realise that, and I’m now confident enough to stipulate a trial period when I meet new clients. It works both ways of course, and it means no one gets upset or hacked off if things just don’t click.
- Opportunity to do Work You Enjoy
The biggest learning curve for me since I started out on my own has been the realisation that I am good enough at what I do to actually get paid for it. And I love what I do, so that’s win-win. Hurrah!
- More Time to do Stuff You Love
This is a HUGE deal, because when you neglect your passions and your hobbies and even your friends and family sometimes, you will end up miserable as hell and resentful of the very thing that was supposed to grant you freedom and happiness.
It’s weird how it works, but just jumping out of that restrictive 9-2-5 routine has forced me to reassess how I manage my time and has actually given me more time than I ever had before. Even though I’m working practically as many hours at home, it’s at my own pace, and that boosts my motivation to do fun stuff and allow myself to chill. Inevitably, this leads to an…
- Increased Sense of Happiness and Purpose
Without going all Tao of Pooh on you, when you do something you enjoy and combine it with the sense of freedom that working for yourself brings, it starts a domino effect. A kind of chain reaction inside that fills you up with happiness, contentment, and a sense of achievement. I care much less now about possessions and material things, and more about the intense satisfaction I get from being fully in control of all aspects of my life. I feel more confident than I have for years, more motivated to succeed than I ever did before, and more certain that this is the path I’m meant to be following.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this – rather mammoth – post! And that you could relate to some of my ramblings at least. Someone once told me that to write a blog post more than 800 words in length was tantamount to committing creative suicide, but phooey. I just did it and I don’t care!
I really would love to hear about your views and experiences, so please do get in touch.