Being My Own Boss
I love being my own boss, I really do.
I spent years working in the public sector and although I enjoyed it (mostly) I didn’t enjoy the lack of flexibility, whether it be flexibility in the working week or booking leave etc. I understand that as a workplace, fairness has to be considered but this did put obstacles in the way. Booking leave would always depend on who else had requested the same dates, understandably the work place still had to run effectively, add that to the difficulty that my husband also works in the public sector, trying to book the same dates was hugely problematic. I now have the autonomy to decide when and how often I take time off without running it by anyone else albeit without an income from my fresh cake sales.
The downside can be we don’t take enough time off and we generally work longer hours than employees especially when we are starting out. There are UK laws, I assume in most other countries too, that protect employees from working excess hours and the right to take a minimum amount of paid holiday each year. No such safeguards exist for the self-employed, we have to manage this ourselves. This has both positive and negative effects and for many it is a steep learning curve as they transition from being an employee to being their own boss.
I have been on both sides, so I truly understand the pitfalls. In the early days, I rarely took time off, working extremely long days and 7 days a week. I found it really hard to take time off as this meant turning customers and business away. However, selfcare is incredibly important and vital to the long-term success of any business.
I now manage my working hours to fit around my life, the school drop offs and pickups and other family commitments. I no longer allow the business to completely rule my life and am prepared to say to a customer for example, that a collection at that time is not convenient. It is amazing that all of a sudden when you decline a request for a time or date that mostly they can make an alternative arrangement that suits you both. I am not suggesting I don’t make every attempt to accommodate my customers, because I do, but I keep it within my acceptable parameters. My work-life balance is finally right, mostly, so I encourage you to make this a top priority for long term success and sustainability of both your business and personal happiness. I am still extremely busy but that goes with the success of any small business.
I make my own decisions. I generally run these decisions by my husband or admins, as we do work as a team, but ultimately the final decision is down to me.
As an employee I remember feeling frustrated by arbitrary management decisions that did not make sound business sense. That’s often part of being an employee, especially in a large organisation, not being able to challenge poor decisions. I am sure many of you can relate to this. Making my own decisions can be challenging but overall, I enjoy being responsible for those decisions and accept that I won’t get it right all of the time. I am accountable for my decisions and if things go wrong there is no one else to pick up the pieces, it’s stops with me, but I’m ok with that.
You have no assurance of income. I don’t know what I will earn next month or what my annual income will be for the following year. (the pandemic has really highlighted this for so many self-employed) I don’t have a pension built into a salary and my income will depend on so many variants including the effectiveness of my marketing, continued commitment to customer service, new content on my website etc. I know from personal experience mortgage lenders can be nervous lending to self-employed small business owners as we don’t have the job security provided by paid employment. It is more difficult to project our future income in the same way as an employed person.
We also don’t have sick pay guarantees written into our terms! So, you do need to be strict with yourself and put some money aside for a rainy day and holidays. You also need to consider pension provision.
The flip side of this is that your earning potential is not capped. I have worked in organisations where you work within a strict pay band and you creep along that pay band incredibly slowly and when you reach the top of your scale your earnings are capped with little room for progression.
I work alone mostly and freely admit at times I miss the buzz of the office environment. I made many life-long friends through previous employments and I do miss the social aspect, both in and out of work, that comes with working with others. I miss the team Christmas meal and team nights out. These days is just me and Alexa! (an AI virtual assistant??? She’s never helped in the kitchen though???)
From the second I wake up I am at work. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing? I glance at my phone to see the time and I can see all the messages that have come in overnight across all media. I check in to make sure nothing urgent is waiting in my attention. In fact, here I am at 6:00am in the morning writing this blog in bed with a cup of tea (hubby brings that up to me). I spend more time doing admin/social media these days than I do baking and when people ask me “have you been baking today” they assume if I say “no” that I had the day off. I wish!! Often admin days are my busiest and as soon as I reply to the outstanding messages, a load more flood in. That is why when I book a holiday, I try to leave this behind for my admins to deal with so I get a real break from it all. Obviously, I deal with any major issues but luckily, we don’t generally get many of those.
I am responsible for everything relating to the business, as much as I would love to be creating pretty flowers all day, in addition to the daily admin, there is marketing, book keeping, mountains of washing up and so much more.
I am now exposed to a certain level of competition that I didn’t get when I was an employee. Well, for me, it’s is a different kind of competition as it’s not about targets etc. How you deal with this can be very influential to you and your business. Healthy competition is good and should motivate you to progress your brand rather than make you panic. It certainly didn’t come naturally to me and after conversations with others I realised I was not alone. Occasionally you do have to make a stand to protect your brand. But mostly, let competition drive and inspire you to be the best you can be.
I appreciate self-employment is not for everyone and there are certainly pros and cons for both. Despite everything I have mentioned above I love being my own boss, making my own rules and doing things my way. We are all different and some of us need the structure and routine that comes with being an employee. Some may not have the courage in their own ability to take that final step, some may feel they would lack self-motivation if they had to be their own boss, that’s okay too. I would say I am the opposite. Being self-employed and in charge of my own success and destiny has made me more motivated than ever before and given me a new found confidence.
We all make choices in life and I think the most important choice is to walk your own path without regret.