It’s not too far off me celebrating a year of being self-employed (yay)! Honestly? I still absolutely love it. The sense of freedom I still feel is unreal, and I’m grateful for that every. single. day.
As time goes on I get more relaxed about working. Rather than trying to stick to rigid core hours, I’ll have a nap in the middle of the day. Or go and see Avengers at midday. Or sunbathe.
But don’t get me wrong, we’re still working incredibly long days, 7 days a week. Fortunately it’s easy to do because I absolutely love the things I’m working on and there are only a couple of tasks I do that I don’t really like (such as reminding overdue customers about paying). I can work at the times I feel best, and if I’m not really into a task right now and my productivity is dipping, I switch it out for another.
Despite not having a business plan as such, we had a series of projects and tasks we wanted to complete for our company. The affiliate program was the last of the first phase tasks, so it feels amazing to have reached that milestone. Our customers are, as they always have been, brilliant.
However, money is a new pressure I’m not really used to. We don’t get any help from our families or any kind of government grants or benefits or business loans or anything. Getting used to not having a good salary and high disposable income has been…interesting.
In many ways it’s been a lot easier than I expected. It feels like a cleanse to not be buying so much stuff, and actually getting through piles of books, video games, gifted toiletries, and things I never even had time to open before, let alone use. A year on and I’m just about at the end of the gifted bath stuff.
Buying stuff now is a careful decision based on how good we think something will be and how many hours of enjoyment we get out of it. In many ways it’s much nicer, and I get a lot more joy out of the things we do buy. Sometimes I miss buying fun stuff, because 99% of what I buy is food, and we won’t be having a holiday for the foreseeable future, but on the plus side it’s much easier to enjoy the little things, like the sunshine and Netflix.
My biggest surprise with money and self-employment is probably the lack of support for businesses. I’ve done quite a bit of research, but the only potential help available is for businesses that are older than ours, or provide a different type of service to ours, or are more original than ours, or are run by people younger than us, or require a huge business plan and all kinds of data to even get to stage one of a chance of being considered for a loan. Our bank isn’t really any help, and there is a little local support in terms of business advice, which we’re very grateful for, but honestly I just thought there would be…more to it, I guess?
I think one of the big things we’re missing is associating with businesses of a similar stage to us. Both our parents are self-employed, and they have traditional brick and mortar businesses that have been around for decades. They aren’t really interested in ours and don’t understand it, while we just look enviously and dream of being that established (and being able to take a holiday!)
I have overdraft functionality, a credit card with available credit, and a super tiny salary that wouldn’t even be enough to cover bills in most of the country, so if I need cash other than that it involves taking it out of the business (which is an absolute last resort, because we know lack of cashflow kills a business), or some kind of short term loan. Honestly, since the crackdown on interest rates on them and the demand that they’re transparent and upfront about their terms, I feel like they’re a much more viable option – a small loan can be a big financial help, and we’re at the stage where financial help is what we need to keep running the household and feeding four cats.
To sum it up:
The good – Less materialistic, more appreciative of the things we do have, everyday freedom is far more rewarding than possessions.
The bad – Worrying about money long-term, having to cut back on experiences, no longer having a cleaner.
Writing this post has been very therapeutic, and I hope it’s useful to anyone thinking of going self-employed; my advice would be to save up way more than the £20k we set aside for living costs, especially if your business is low cost, high volume like ours, or you don’t have a long term plan for getting clients.
How important is money to you? Do you worry about it or are you at a comfortable stage? Let me know in the comments!
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