Exactly a year ago I became Self Employed. Anyone who has taken the jump from employee to self-employment will know that is a massive step to take.
I set my business up because I wanted to fit work around our family, but at the time I “launched” Puzzle PA Services I didn’t have a single client on my radar, let alone my books. There are so many reasons to doubt yourself when you first start on that journey of self- employment – Will people think I’m making a mistake? Will I be successful? Will I ever get any clients? Do I know enough to do this? So many businesses fail within their first year and this was something that worried me from the start. But, here I am a year later making a success of my venture and, as I write this blog, raising more invoices in this month than I have done so to date. Setting my business up was never really about the money side of things, although in the real world we live in, that is of course important. I wanted to have something that was mine; away from the children, housewife, farmers-wife, holiday cottage owner side of things. Something which allowed me to use the skills I had gained over the years and feel like I was making a difference to the people I worked with.
What have I learnt so far?
· Trust your instincts – if you get a feeling about a piece of work or a particular potential client, go with it, you’ll probably be right
· Believe in yourself – you know far more than you realise, and if you don’t know how to do something there are so many ways of improving your skills or knowledge or even working with someone else who is an expert
· Be honest – not only is it important to be honest to yourself and your values, it is vital to be honest with clients, don’t over promise, don’t say you can do something if you can’t.
· You will make mistakes – as long as those mistakes aren’t too costly, use them as something to learn from and help make better decisions going forward.
· Don’t be afraid to say NO – I have turned business away this year when I didn’t want to do certain tasks or felt it just wasn’t right for me in some way. It gives you a great sense of power to be in a position where you can say no and know that something bigger and better will come along
· Be yourself – be true to yourself, don’t try and be someone you aren’t. Its OK that not everyone likes you or the way you work, life is like that. The people who DO like you will far outweigh those who don’t
· Don’t take things personally – Don’t take it to heart when people say no or query something. Sometimes your best just isn’t good enough for people and those people will naturally filter away leaving you with the cream of the crop!
· Remember that YOUR priorities are not the same as other people’s priorities – just because someone says they will get back to you by the end of the week doesn’t mean they will actually do that. Don’t be huffed when someone ignores your message or doesn’t send you that information they said they would send “as soon as they got back to their desk”. In reality, the type of people who require the services I provide are exceptionally busy and so many obstacles can crop up preventing them from doing something they said they would, it doesn’t always mean that they have changed their mind or no longer need your help.
One of the main learnings I have from the last year is that everyone has those same doubts and concerns when they first set out. I am so pleased that I took the steps to do what I do now as I love the flexibility I have and the fact that I can pick and choose who I work for and the type of tasks I do for them.
So, what I have achieved in this first year of business? I have overcome my fear of networking and even went on to set up a co-working networking group of my own. I have built up a very faithful client base who are happy to refer and recommend my services. I have won a place in the “Howay Homeworkers” 2018 calendar – again conquering another of my fears, that of being photographed! Most importantly I have established a solid base on which to continue building, as our family gets older I can adapt and change to fit with the time I have available and even look to bringing in associates to work alongside me and make sure that I can keep up with demand.
Would I recommend others take the step to being self-employed? Yes! Go for it! – take the leap and challenge yourself, you just never know what you’ll be able to achieve.