Next week while I’m flinging myself down a mountain on a pair of skis for the first time, I’ll also be celebrating six whole months of being self-employed. It’s one of those weird feelings where it both feels like time is going by crazy fast, but also a bit like I’ve been doing it for longer. Weird, huh?
Anyway, to celebrate early and because ya girl needs #content to schedule while she’s frantically packing all her clothes into a case because she simply cannot decide what she’s going to want to wear for the next fortnight, I thought I’d share six things I’ve learned about being self-employed that surprised me.
I love working for myself. I love the freedom it gives me, and that the commute is from my bed to my spare room/office. But the truth is, Mondays can still feel like Mondays. After a nice relaxing weekend, I’m not often jumping out of bed ready to take on the week. Sometimes I put on a later alarm, or get started on the “easy jobs” to lull myself into the day.
The most Mondayish of Mondays for me is the sort of Monday where you have a tonne to do and no motivation to do it. You just want to curl up in a ball and binge-watch Jessica Jones while drinking copious amounts of tea. You may be thinking “well, who is stopping you now you’re self-employed?” and I can tell you now, the only person stopping me from doing that is me because I’d be riddled with guilt if that’s how I really spent my day. In fact, I still feel guilty if I take a longer lunch break, even though they do make me more productive overall.
Without a doubt, the admin of running your own business is a bore. Cashflow forecasting, receipts and invoices as well as tackling your inbox are all compulsory parts of being a self-employed business owner so you have to grin and bear it, but if you stay on top of it, it will make your life so much easier.
I try and log my receipts straight away and file them away so they aren’t lost, and I update my cash flow forecast every time I have incomings or outgoings against the business. This way, it only takes a couple of minutes each time as opposed to the hours it would take if I put it all off until it was time to pay the jolly old tax man.
If you are self-employed, I highly recommend making time on a regular basis to stay on top of your admin. Make a brew, grab a biscuit or two and tackle it head on before it tackles you.
Yeah, really. There have been days when I have forgotten to brush my teeth until 5pm, or even gone out to get some milk without brushing my hair. I’m a cliche, I know.
When you’ve worked full time in office roles for the majority of your adult life, you’ll be used to the “making yourself presentable” part of your morning routine before you start the commuting part of the day. When you work from home as a self-employed hermit, this part becomes less necessary and sometimes falls by the wayside. I’m not proud.
There are also time times when you simply don’t have time for the basics – you get stuck into your work and before you know it, the day is over and you’re still rocking the bedhead look and your breath smells a bit stale. Nice.
I’m not what you would call a “social butterfly”. I’m perfectly fine in social situations, but I don’t usually crave them. Well, that was until I started working from home. While I’m lucky to have Liam at home too, I do sometimes crave human interaction beyond the person I see every day. That’s where networking events come in pretty handy, along with making evening plans to spend time near other human beings.
In the past, I have worked in offices with colleagues that drove me crazy. They were loud and distracting while I was focusing on doing a good job. I used to be the person who would put their earphones in for some peace, but now I find myself occasionally wishing a colleague was sat beside me pointing out cute cat videos to break up the day a bit.
Patience and I don’t exactly go hand in hand, but I knew when I first decided to be self-employed that I would need patience in abundance. I took it with a pinch of salt though, never assuming that by being patient that it would actually pay off. But it does. It has.
With the networking and other marketing I’ve been doing to let people know about my business, I have started to see a rise in the amount of work that comes my way. At just six months into self-employment, I am doing better than I ever thought I would. Probably because I thought I’d be begging for my old job back by now lol.
Yes, it’s cheesy and probably sounds really annoying but patience does pay off. That and hard work, anyway. Clients aren’t queuing to work with you, so go get ’em.
I didn’t ever think there was a “right” amount to charge clients, but six months into doing project work, I think the point has been hammered home even more. It’s up to you what you want to charge, but you need to know your worth.
By that I mean you need to remind yourself of the value you are delivering to your clients when deciding what to charge, and making sure you aren’t pricing yourself out of your ideal customer. Equally, you don’t want to undercharge because that can put people off too.
Basically, think carefully about how you charge your clients and remember to factor in more than just the time it takes you to complete work – there’s all that pesky admin that comes into play, and the fact the tax man is coming after your earnings as well.