Lessons I have learned along the way...
My job title has no relation to what I actually do.
Way back when I was starting out on my self-employment journey I used to envision the future and the majority of my thoughts involved me applying make-up to faces or at least had make-up products in them. In actual fact in a typical working week make-up application accounts for around 10% of my time. The rest is spent juggling a multitude of roles some of which I didn't even realise existed when I decided to go solo. I am now not only a make-up artist but also work in customer service, communications, finance, marketing, sales and to some extent HR. I have had to not only keep on top of my make-up skills but I have also learn whole new skillsets to run the business. In an ideal world, I would outsource and offload some areas but when you are just starting out you just don't have the funds to do so and although it can be tough I believe it is essential to have some sort of grasp in the main fundamentals of business so when I finally can outsource I will have an idea of what's going on.
Self-motivation is key to your success
An area I think all business owners and entrepreneurs really struggle with is motivation. Sometimes I am flying along - the ideas are flowing, the productivity is full steam ahead and then bam out of nowhere it seems more appealing to sit and constantly refresh Instagram rather than tackle those accounts or update that website. The motivation is dead. And the thing is folks, is that there is no one around that you have to be accountable to and explain why that item has been on your to-do list for the last 3 weeks. You don't have the pressure of managers on your back or letting your team down. If you are stalling or unsure on a particular issue you have to figure it out yourself and it can be so lonely. One of the best things about working in a team is that you have different sets of eyes that can be cast over your work, they can support your decisions, or maybe point out mistakes or areas that have been overlooked. But remember there are others like you out there and joining a support group can not only improve your business but also help your sanity as well. This was one of the main reasons behind Blush and Saavy - to support and create community and build a place where you can turn to if you feel alone. If you are struggling in certain areas then enroll in an online course or look for some 1:1 coaching that could just give you that kick up the arse that you need.
Your employed friends will think you work part-time
A lot of my friends and family look at me with great envy and I believe they think that because I specialise in Bridal Make-Up my Mondays - Fridays just compromise of daytime TV and coffee dates. I must have all this spare time on my hands and that I work about 8 hours a week. The reality is I have never worked harder in all my life. If you want a business to be successful you need to show up and put the hours in.
The truth is you won't work 8 hours a day Monday to Friday. In the early days, you will probably be a workhorse and 12-14 hour days will be your thing but it's not sustainable and you have to draw a big fat line between "work" and "life". This is much harder than it sounds and even now when I am sitting watching a film or even meeting with friends I feel guilty about all the work things I should be getting on with. Now more than ever I am more aware of the benefits that having time away from your business can bring and I try to have a bit more "balance". Yes I can take 3 days off and my business won't go down the pan or I can take the morning off to attend one my daughters school events and work it back when they are in bed. Don't get me wrong there will be times where you just have to get your head down and work like a beast for an entire month but this should be followed by breathing space where you can go for spontaneous days out or just not have to get out of bed before 10am (although rule that one out if you have young kids).
You encounter a lot of self-learning
I used to think I was a night owl but it turns out that I am so much more productive in the early mornings and mid-afternoon. My brain turn to mush after 6pm. I love getting up really early when the house is really quiet and I can focus on tasks with so much more intent but I have self-employed friends that have their power hours from 10pm - 1am. You have to figure out what works best for you.
I no find it really hard to focus. When there is no one around me cracking the whip I can be so easily distracted. One minute I will be halfway through writing an email and the next I am 3 hours deep in Pinterest mason jar ideas. I blame this on the fact that I wear about 20 hats and I have to constantly jump from task to task. It's not lack of attention span, it's a brain that is going at 200 miles an hour and doesn't know where to begin. Therefore I have to be fairly regimented when it comes to planning my workload and can only work in 30-40 min segments at a time. Time blocking and batch tasking are what helps me keep it together whereas some people may work better with more freedom.
Self-care should be included in any strategy
Something that I have been really trying to focus on in my life is self-care and stepping away from my business. As a working mum, my time is divided between keeping my three daughters alive and keeping my business alive. After that, there isn't much time for anything else but I have discovered that self-care doesn't actually require a lot of time and sometimes I can even combine two areas but the weeks where I have been most productive in my business are the ones where I have made some time to focus on myself whether this has been through 10 mins of meditation in the morning or going out for a run whilst listening to a favourite podcast. If you don't make a bit of time for yourself you will suffer burnout. Burnout is poisonous for a business and a topic I will explore in future blog posts
There are days where I am actually envious of people who work 9-5 and have the structure and support of office life but these moments are fleeting. When you are self-employed you will work harder than ever, you will go through periods of self-doubt and feel like you are a failure, there will be days where you would rather stick pins in your eyes than have to face that ever-growing to-do list but you will live knowing that for every hour and piece of you that you put into this business the more you will get back - not only financially but from the self-satisfaction of knowing that the success of your business is all down to you.
You will moan every year about how terrible the HMRC website is
Its crap. Hard to use and confusing. Every year this is reiterated to me when I file my self-assesment. Tax doesn't have to be taxing but it is because of that god damn website.