Are you thinking of starting your own business? It has been a dream of mine since I was 14 years old. Sat in my first Business class, I was all bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to take on Alan Sugar. My reasoning: a lot is done through business. Our world runs on businesses. Sure, there’s politics, charities, cooperatives and community organisations, but most of the time, the route to whatever you want is through business.
I’ve looked up to people who have been running things for themselves for a long time – check my Inspiration interview series for, well, some serious inspiration – and I’m now in a position to say that I’m running things for myself now too!
Working for myself
It’s just been over a month of freelancing as a copywriter and blogger full-time, and I’m loving it. Sure, it’s daunting – terrifying even – but I managed to build a good foundation while working full-time in agencies so I’m now able to make a living from it. It might not be the same amount as when I was salaried, but it’s a good enough start and I know I’ll be able to grow over time.
Sadly though, there are a lot of changes that come with working for yourself. I’ve loved reading through tips and tricks about working from home, but there are a few truths that never seem to come up…
Control your inner boss
I’ve had good bosses, bad bosses, bossy bosses and hands-off bosses. But no-one compares to those first few weeks of being your own boss. It’s a nightmare.
No matter whether you’re the most organised person in the world, you will find yourself bossing yourself around, doing tasks that couldn’t legally be asked of anyone else. Working from 9am to midnight? Yup, done that. Working on the weekends? Yeah, why not. Lunch? Okay, here’s 15 minutes, a tin of soup and a side dish of panic.
In your first few weeks, your business takes over your life. It’s priority number one – you’ll probably have weird dreams (my latest: a tornado on fire?!), you won’t eat well, and you’ll find it hard to switch off.
This isn’t productive, so instead, set yourself goals you can achieve. Use your first week to streamline your working processes, and stick to them. Get a routine in place (mine is a 9:30am start, 6:30pm finish) but don’t chastise yourself if you’re interrupted.
First on the list: make a list
Lists are my everything. I used to organise a team of 8-10 people every day, and it ran smoothly so long as I had my lists. Looking after your own workload can only be done when you’re able to see what you have to do, so write it down.
With my blog, I have a month-to-page diary on which I plan my posts, and every morning I write out my to-do list. These are crucial to prioritising – if you want to go into more detail, you can read about the 5 Key Ways I Balance My Time.
Imposter syndrome is real
The grass isn’t so green when you get here, trust me. Oh, sure, it’s lush and cool in parts, but there are some real dry, yellow patches too. Imposter syndrome is probably the biggest yellow patch on the freelancing pasture.
A friend and I have both recently gone full-time working for ourselves, and we were discussing how it feels like we’re making up a story every time we tell people what we’re doing. A lot of the time, it feels like you’re having an out of body experience when you tell people – Is that me? Am I really doing that? How? Help!
This is the basis of imposter syndrome: feeling like you’re not good enough to be doing the thing you are. And I don’t mean you don’t have the skills or the training, you just don’t have the belief that it’s happening and everything is going to work out.
The one thing I’ve learnt is that if I have a goal, I will reach it, but usually in a way that doesn’t fit what I first imagined. If Plan A doesn’t work, I’ll go to Plan B, and probably have a Plan C on the cards too. So, no matter whether I think I’ll be able to make next month’s rent or not, I know I can, even if it takes a bit of grafting to get there. But it does take a lot to shake off the fear.
Me-time is your new side hustle
This probably applies to blogging more than anything else: when you write a blog, you expose a lot of your normal life online. And in some ways, most moments in your life become little triggers to whip out your phone, share an Instagram Story, take a photo of that building, ooh it’s sunny I should tweet about that, etc. etc.
The added pressure is that when you make your “side hustle” into your “full-time hustle” (or whatever you call it) you don’t have a side project now. What should you do in the evenings?! Wait, I can do nothing on the weekends? No way.
Being your own boss means you have to be just as strict about breaks. You can write that email on Monday. Put down your phone and enjoy chatting with your Mum. It’s a hard habit to break, but it’s worth it.