BUSINESS TIME: ONE YEAR ON February 24 2016, 0 Comments
It's been a year since I left my full time job and became self-employed. In that time I've been a very inconsistent blogger, going through phases of loving blogging, then feeling like I have nothing to say. But I'm really grateful to have it as a record to look back on every now and then as Little Nell changes and (hopefully) grows, it's definitely a little therapeutic having somewhere to write down my experiences.
Just over a month into my self employment I wrote this very positive post, and it's good to look back on it when I'm feeling complacent and whinging about quite insignificant things (usually being cold and always having to make my own tea).
A year in, a little more weathered and less naive, I feel like I can write more openly and honestly about the pros and cons of working for yourself.
I think all creatives suffer from self-doubt, but if you're in a shared office, or agency you have people to ask for feedback. I've said before that social media channels are helpful for getting opinions, but you can't do it for everything. And more to the point, it's my business and I should be confident in making decisions about how it moves forward. But ordering huge quantities of new packaging the week before my first trade show was a bit terrifying. Do I go for the expensive luxury card stock for a high end feel that's more on-brand, or the cheaper, more rustic kraft finish, which contrasts with the jewellery better? Which leads neatly on to my next point...
There are two ways of looking at this one, you don't get mad at anyone else for making stupid decisions that you then have to work with (which used to be a pretty big issue for me), but instead, you only have yourself to blame if (and when) something does go wrong. When you order 1000 flyers on the wrong card, or buying a train ticket and immediately losing it so you have to buy it again. (Yes, I've done both of those, this is a safe sharing place - no judgement please!)
Being alone was always my biggest fear about working myself. When I'd dreamt about having my own business, I often pictured me and a couple of others, working in a lovely bright, airy studio, giggling at slightly rude place names and opening the gin at 4.30pm on a friday, needless to say, that's not the case. Being alone isn't usually an issue, if I'm lonely I get out, and the rest of the time, the radio does a pretty good job of making me feel like I've got company. However, at peak season, when it's early starts and late nights, and Mr. Little Nell is working away, I do find myself going a little stir crazy. I very nearly phoned my mum to get her to come and stay to just make me tea and talk at me whilst I pack orders. I think it's more the monotony than anything else. Usually I like the variety my job entails, if I'm bored of something I'll do something else, but non-stop order packing made me feel very 'ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKES PENNY A DULL GIRL'.
This is still my favourite part of self-employment. It's simple things, like not having to run errands on a saturday when everywhere is rammed, working in my favourite cafe as a hump day treat, and doing emails from my bed when monday morning is just a little too much. I have to remind myself to appreciate these things. I even go running now *shocked emoji face*, there's no way I would have gone for regular runs through winter with a full time job. (I won't run in the dark, that's indoor time).
The other day I logged into my linkedin account for the first time in months to find an old message from a recruiter. She asked if I was interested in a job that I would have jumped at 18 months ago. It caused me to have a brief moment of doubt, wondering whether I should have stayed in a more corporate environment which would perhaps have been more stable, and sensible. Do I think I'll still be making trend-led jewellery when I'm 50? Honestly, I don't know, but as I grow and change, I'm sure my business will evolve too.
My other future worry is a pension. I've never had a pension, and this never really worried me because they were for old people, and I couldn't even comprehend what I'd be doing next week, let alone when I retire. But I'm nearly 30 and it's almost 10 years since I left university, and I still have diddly squat pension-wise. (I can feel my dad rolling his eyes at me as I write that sentence.)
All in all, it's been a good year, a great year in fact. I'm quietly proud of myself for making it this far. I haven't done all of the things I hoped I would in those 12 months (I may have been a little over ambitious!), but I've made some pretty big moves in the right direction. And keeping in mind that my initial plan was to see how things went, and possibly look for another job 6 months down the line. I'm pretty chuffed that I haven't had to.