The Things I've Learnt. 10 Years... 20 Lessons
Posted on 25th May 2020 at 15:58
On 30th May 2010, I officially started out in the world of self-employment. It was a significant day for me for many reasons, some I’ll share below and some I’ll keep to myself.
It was a wild ride. One I was terrified of from day 1.
I never wanted to become self-employed. I was happy working as a Senior Consultant for a Recruitment Agency. I’d spent the previous 8 years working my way up from Office Junior to finally making it to a Consultant. I worked long hours in the office and when I left for the day, I was on 24/7 on-call. It was brutal. I was good at my job. Looking back now, it was killing me.
The fairy tale was never meant to be. My Directors decided it was time for them to go separate ways and they liquidated the business. 8 long years of stability and building – gone.
My last official day was 29th May and by the next day I was already set up and ready to go in the big bad world of self-employment. In the dog eat dog world of recruitment.
The run up to that point was full of anxiety, stress, and sleepless nights. Armed with my Grandad’s backing (not to mention emptying my inheritance account early) I was out in the world. On my own. 2 years later my Gramps would pass away. He never got to see me find me feet and see me turn into the All-Star VA I am today. But I knew he was proud, and he was probably one of the few that truly believed in me. He was proud I’d started, and he knew I’d finish strong. I knew this because he told me. That I can, and do, hold in my heart to this day.
What have I learned in the last 10 years? Everything and nothing. I’ve learnt so many lessons and yet, I still feel like there is still a world of knowledge to learn. I guess that’s a good thing. I like to learn new things.
So, what have I learnt? In no particular order…
1. Self-employment is both the best thing in the world and also a massive pile of crap.
2. You need to put in the hours for a LONG time.
3. It’s hard but you’ll find a ‘tribe’ along the way.
4. Unless your best friend is self-employed, they’ll not get ‘it’. You’ll need a work bestie too.
5. The transition between PAYE and Self-employed is weird.
6. Your business will become your baby and you’ll protect it at all cost.
7. Running a business is the equivalent to having two jobs. You’ll work IN the business and then start job two of working ON the business.
8. HMRC are not THAT scary. In fact, I’ve found them quite lovely over the years.
9. Networking will help your business. Online or Offline.
10. Don’t try to sell sell sell.
11. Play the long game.
12. Build your reputation.
13. Invest back into your business.
14. Invest in people. Give them your time and money.
15. Build a team and learn to delegate properly
16. Build systems, they help set the foundations of your business.
17. You WILL cry yourself to sleep at least once over your business. It’s normal.
18. YOU NEED TO TAKE BREAKS! For lunch and for holidays.
19. Where possible, buy locally or from other small businesses.
20. You’ll f*ck up along the way. That’s ok. Just don’t give up.
So, that’s my last 10 years in a nutshell.
I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost clients, I’ve lost money but on the positive, I’ve also GAINED them too. I’ve now surrounded myself with people I love and trust. It took a long, long time to get to this stage and I’ve probably gone around in circles and taken the long route, but it’s made me the business owner and person I am today.
For all the things I messed up, the times I fell over, the nights I spent crying, it was all worth it. I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t change who it has made me.
Here’s to the next 10 years of growth. To more tears, cheers, and memory making.
Until next time,
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