Some Of The Most Important Things I've Learnt About Being My Own Boss
Over the past few years, I've been lucky enough to be my own boss and it's been a huge privilege. There is no denying that getting to call the shots in your life is something that is incredible but that doesn't mean that it doesn't have it's drawbacks as it certainly does. It's so easy to think that if you're self-employed it's an easier route, a life with late breakfasts and long dog walks at your own pace. But that couldn't be further from the truth and here are some of the most important lessons I've learned over the past few years.
IT'S A REAL JOB
Way too often I see the world of freelancing and being your own boss not being considered as a real job. Which is not only completely unfair and untrue but it also downplays how hard people work when they do everything on their own. Just because a job isn't at a desk or in the hours between 9 and 5 that doesn't make it any less real. If you're earning money from what you're doing then it's a real job and earning money completely off your own back is not easy. As much freedom as being your own boss can give you it also has some major downsides like no holidays, maternity pay, sick days or pension just to name a few.
organisation is key
Something that I've learned the importance of particularly in the last year or so is that you need some sort of organisation system in place. No matter what it looks like there needs to be something in place to keep you on track. For me, everything lives in my notepads from what I'm doing that day to what paid work I've got to do and finally what invoices are due to be paid and when. When things are busy it's so easy to let things slip and to-do lists don't always need to be tracked but finances do. For some, in their job roles, they don't need any type of to-do list, I know in some of my past jobs I didn't but when everything is falling on you then it's different. When it comes to tax return season you will certainly thank yourself that's for sure.
standing up for yourself
When you're the face of your business and the one putting in all the hard work it can be exhausting to be the one who then who has to then fight for your rights. I find this is to be the most important when it comes to your income because so many people like to take freelancers for a ride, mostly the people who don't deem it a real job yet want to use that person's services. As a blogger, this is something that I face on a daily basis, and sometimes there will not be a budget to be paid. And I have absolutely no problem doing something without financial gain as it's not an industry where you can be paid for absolutely everything you do. But when there is a budget and there is a specific brief to work to then why don't you deserve to be paid? Ultimately, 90% of the things you're being asked to do will only benefit the brand. And the person asking you to do them will more than likely be on a salary which I think is always something important to bear in mind. It's not easy asking to be paid, it's really uncomfortable to discuss money but it is so important.
THERE ARE NO RULES
Something that I really wish I could go back and change is that when I first became my own boss I would hold myself to the same standards as other jobs but the two aren't comparable in the slightest. Every single day is different when you're your own boss and that is part of the fun of it all, you don't have to do the same thing every single day and you don't have to work certain hours either. It's something that I have resisted for so long, as long as I've been my own boss I've always thought in order for people to take me seriously then I needed to look like I was working the same hours as they do but that doesn't work for me. I find that I work best first thing in the morning, after lunch and then in the evening for a couple of hours. My brain doesn't cope well just sitting at my desk staring at my screen for hours. By working this way I make sure I actually have room for myself, plenty of time to spend with the dogs whilst still getting everything ticked off my to-do list.
BE HARD ON PEOPLE
You will have definitely heard the cries of people online if they're their own bosses talk about the stress it puts on them financially when people just all of a sudden decide that they're not going to pay them. And you don't have to be really rude and nasty but you do have to stand up for yourself. There is absolutely no excuse for not paying people on time, it's totally unacceptable but all too common when it comes to the world of self-employment. To my knowledge, there is absolutely nothing to protect people from it either. So often you'll do the work, be promised payment, often sign some sort of contract and then receive absolutely nothing from it. There are a few steps I've found to sometimes work and that is if it's agency then get in touch with them yourself, email and even ring if possible and don't apologise for the inconvenience you feel like you might cause. If that doesn't work then legal action can be used and should be utilised more, even if it's just a letter. If you look on the government website there is some information on this. You're not hassling somebody for wanting to be paid for work you've done and you're well within your rights to demand it as well as charge a late fee. Sadly unless you have management the only person making sure you get paid is you and even though it's all sorts of wrong it's a daily occurrence. When you're your own boss financial responsibilities don't suddenly disappear like people seem to believe. Bills have to be paid and the banks do not accept the plethora of excuses that people like to give.
IT'S NOT as GLAMOROUS as it looks
The world of Instagram, in particular, shows two sides of self-employment for me. There are the people that like to keep it real and then the people who only show some of the good benefits. As nice as it is to choose to have a lie in one day it's certainly not always glamorous as it might look and comes with its own world of stresses. There are a lot of downsides to being your own boss that are rarely shared as it seems like the dream that so many people chase. Ultimately it's still a job and often a job that you have a lot more of an emotional attachment to, because my job is myself it's personal. Whereas when I worked it a bar or retail it wasn't personal to me in the slightest and when it is so personal you take things so much harder.
guilt & imposter syndrome
Something that I've really struggled with over the past few years is the guilt of having more freedom than I would have if I was in a more traditional job setting as well as a serious case of imposter syndrome. And I think this is something a lot of people can relate to when they're their own boss. They feel like they don't deserve it even though deep down they know they work hard and provide for themselves they still feel like something is going to come along and take it all away. As well as a feeling of undeserving so many people also feel like they can't share when they're upset or struggling because it's often dismissed as it's a profession you've chosen and built. Which is something that is so damaging to do to people as everybody needs to vent at some point, no matter what it is or how silly it might seem. Burning yourself out and taking things to an extreme only damages you, other people don't give a damn then.