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In the blink of an eye…half a year has flown by!

On the 26th July 2021, I sat down at my desk, huge mug of tea in hand, to start my first full day of self-employment.

And now, it’s the 26th January 2022. Where does the time go?!

A bit of a different blog today, but this feels like a milestone worth celebrating. I’ve learned more in the past 184 days than I ever thought possible – so I thought I would share a few of the lessons with you!

1) Boundaries are Key

One thing I learned quickly, is to make sure I’m not 100% available to my clients, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

At first, I wanted to be super responsive and helpful all the time. And I still do! Within my working hours. The alternative is stress, pressure, and not enjoying down time. Which means that I’m not performing at my best when I’m working.

Plus – boundaries also essential with yourself.

I’ve always been someone who juggles a lot of projects, and I like to keep busy. But I’ve found myself working every single day of the week a few too many times. So going forward, I’ve promised myself that I need to take at least one full day off a week.

2) Know Your Worth

I haven’t been doing this long, but already I know that pricing is one of the big taboos of running a business.

How much should I charge?

How to I react if they counter?

What if they tell me that the price is far too high for what I’m offering?

There will always be people who want high-quality services for the smallest investment.

It’s tempting to take every single piece of work that comes my way – no matter the budget. But I’ve been exercising the right to say no. And you should exercise yours too!

As business owners, we put a lot of time and effort into what we do. If people are going to keep pushing you to work as hard for less money, they may not be the right fit for your business.

It’s about getting the balance between different budgets and resources, and the value of your time.

3) Never Stop Learning

I have always loved learning.

Even after I finished university, I always needed to learn more. So I threw myself straight into a Grade 8 Musical Theatre exam. And then during the pandemic, I completed a Professional Diploma in Data-Driven Marketing.

Even now, I’m re-learning French for the first time in almost a decade!

But learning, as a self-employed person, needs to help you work in your business, and on your business. And it is crucial to success.

The style of learning is different – it isn’t bound by essays and exams. I’m reading a lot more non-fiction, listening to more podcasts, and taking more courses (certified or not). This allows me to do a better job for my clients.

If anyone has any key books, podcasts or videos I should add to my list, let me know in the comments!

4) Embrace the Flexibility

The flexibility of being self-employed is unbeatable. I have total control over when and where I work, and my quality of life has improved as a result.

Something I’ve learned is that doing what works best for me is key. I’m always available during core working hours. But often I find myself more productive in the early morning, late evening, or at the weekend.

So that’s when I’ll work! Leaving plenty of time to do other, non-work things that bring me joy.

It isn’t for everyone, but it works for me.

5) Connections are Key

Before going self-employed, I had posted on LinkedIn once.

I had never been to a networking event.

Or hosted any kind workshop.

I’m introverted by nature, so all the above is still scary – but starting to feel more natural. And if I’ve learned one thing in the last six months, it’s that developing strong relationships is key.

I try to meet as many people as possible. You never know where the conversations could lead! Business success comes from collaboration – so we should all be working together.

It isn’t just about the people that you end up working with either. It’s the people who recommend you, or make you visible, to others too.

Every meeting, networking event, like of a post and message on LinkedIn. It all adds up to a supportive, encouraging group of people who are integral to your success.

6) Embrace the Highs and Lows

Being self-employed has its challenges. There are weeks where you couldn’t be busier – then weeks where you feel like tumbleweeds are rolling by.

So I’ve stopped thinking about success as a monthly salary. I’ve started setting quarterly goals instead. This helps to reduce the pressure I put on myself, and takes into account the natural ebbs and flows of business.

Success is more than that, of course. It’s the type of projects I’m working on. How much I enjoy them. How much work I can do, while still having some freedom and leisure time.

I question myself all the time – imposter syndrome is real, and frequent in the early days. But then clients accept your proposal. They love the work you’ve done. And they recommend you to others.

And that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

Thank you for joining me on this reflection on my first six months in business! I hope these insights have been interesting – if you’re a business owner, you may be able to relate to a few of them!

I’m so grateful that I get to spend every day doing what I love – maybe I’ll do it for you next?

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