1. CUSTOMISE YOUR SPACE
I work in an attic, space is tight and all the furniture has to arrive through what is essentially a hatch in my bedroom ceiling. Went I quit my job and realised I was going to be sat in that attic 5 days a week, I decided to scrap my impractical little Ikea desk and have one made. I bought some £25 mesh drawers, £2 desk legs and found a carpenter on mybuilder.com to create and fit a bespoke desktop that made the most of my limited space, fitting into the uneven walls. It cost me £120 which really wasn't much more than my little Ikea one. My desk is for packing, making and working so I needed something that could work for all 3. It's deeper than a standard desk as I use it as a shelf for storing jewellery, and it's longer on the corner so my laptop can sit alongside my monitor.
Accounts is not my strong point. It's not that I can't do them, I just don't want to. It's boring, and time-consuming, which is a problem for someone (like me) with the attention span of a child. Investing in FreeAgent was the best thing I ever did. I can upload my bank statements month by month, and it gives you an overview of how much you owe the taxman (rather than thinking you know and having a hideously surprising and painful kick in the face come tax day). If you're really snazzy you can create project codes to see how much specific projects are costing you, and it can also handle all of your invoicing so you know who has paid and who is taking the p*ss out of your cash flow.
It's hard not to be a control freak when it's your business. Being in charge of everything is kind of satisfying, it's my baby and no one else will love and nurture it like I will. But that's not true, they will, because it's their job too, they'll just focus on one aspect on of your business rather than all of them. Don't get me wrong, having your own business is great for pushing you to learn new things and challenging yourself, but sometimes it helps to sit back and evaluate. Yes, I could design my catalogue for no cost, but I'm not a designer, it would take me forever, and I don't think I'd be 100% happy with the outcome. OR I could outsource it to someone who is great at that stuff. That way I get a better final result, less stress, and I've had the time to create an awesome new range to cover the extra costs.
One of the joys of working for myself is the flexibility, that I can throw routine to the wind if, and when I need to. That said, I really benefit from a routine, if I stick to traditional working hours I find it a lot easier to switch between work-time and my free-time. I treat my attic just as I would an office (with a very lax dress code) because when I didn't, the lines got blurred. When I worked on the sofa, that became my office and it's hard to just sit there and not think about work. For me, having a routine creates boundaries which I need to be my most productive. But yes, sometimes friday morning emails do get done in bed with a face mask on and a hot brew.
I'm a woman of simple pleasures, I like having a nice, comfortable working environment and it really helps my productivity. It needs to be somewhere I enjoy spending time, and for me, that means creature comforts; prints, blankets, nice lighting... Even so, now and then I need to get out of my house. Usually for 1 day every couple of weeks I'll work outside of home, away from domestic distractions of washing up, laundry, and cat cuddling. They're not bad distractions, and they don't take long, but on some days they add up and they get the better of me, because it'll only take two minutes, or they're only downstairs. I'll either work in a cafe or at a friends and being somewhere where I physically cannot make orders, or rearrange shelves means I finally get some of the admin work done.
I feel like I need to end this post with a disclaimer! These are small changes that improved the way I run my business. I'm not suggesting they'll definitely work for yours, if you're looking for advice, then lord knows there are more than enough advice posts out there for you to read! I just wanted to share my own experience, but if working till midnight in your pants on the kitchen floor works for you - stick to that. What I love about our creative community is that there are no rules, we all operate differently, and there are no right or wrong ways.