Over the past few weeks, I have experienced my first real trough of self-employment. This is not uncommon (it is incredibly regular in fact), and for some reason or other, I have been incredibly lucky that it has taken me around 6 months to hit my first low. However, due to things such as Instagram which promote numerous overwhelming successful individuals living the highlife of being their own boss, I feel this is reality which needs to be shattered somewhat.
Obviously I am not claiming that it is all horrific and encouraging people to stop in their tracks if they are thinking of taking the self-employment path. Quite the contrary. BUT I do feel people need to be aware of what they are getting themselves into, as well as the pretty brutal aspects of this as a career choice.
I came up with my business concept around this time last year, I was fed up of jobs which were unfulfilling, making me ill from stress and most importantly, not following what I was deeply passionate about. At first, it was just a wild dream, but after quitting my job in a school due to having a near breakdown, I decided to start putting this plan into reality. Here is the point where people say: ‘And I never looked back’ – well to be honest, those people are probably lying. I completely adore what I do and I wouldn’t choose going back to the school I was at, in exchange for my wonderful business. Yet, during low weeks like now, where cancellations are rife; plans are falling through; and you are panicking about making next months rent; being your own boss suddenly can seem like the worst choice in the world. The beauty of working a 9-5, is the regular pay cheque at the end of the month; knowing that if you are ill, you will receive sick pay; or if there is a cancellation, you will inevitably still get paid for time. Sadly, none of this is a certainty when you are your own boss and that is where cracks can start to appear.
I feel that here I should highlight the overwhelming joys of being your own boss – things which I regularly repeat to myself in these moments! Firstly, if you want to go on holiday, you can go on holiday! Number two, I LOVE what I do, I feel happy every time I teach someone a new yoga posture, talk to someone about art and watch them grow – it is immensely rewarding. Finally, the self worth you feel when you are on top and everything is going your way, is one of the best feelings ever. To know that you created something and it has been successful, is hugely satisfying.
Now these pros, as you can imagine when stated, sound infinitely better than the cons. However, the issue, as always, boils down to money. Money unfortunately does make the world go round and allows you to eat, have somewhere to live and do nice things – like holidays! Nevertheless, even though I know this to my core, when you are feeling rubbish, it is easy to forget these pointers and start to become disenchanted with your business and work life.
This comes and goes with the days, I will peak and fall on a day to day basis during these moments. One day, asking myself why on earth I decided to choose this path and is it even for me? The next, exclaiming wildly how wonderful the life of a self-employed woman can be and telling anyone who will listen how much I love my job.
This will not be the last time I feel either of these emotions. But, the important thing is is to be aware that they do happen and then working out whether you are sturdy enough to ride them through to the end. I have proven to myself that I can undertake a lot and I feel much stronger than before I started this journey. This tells me that this is for me but it is hard and it can be a struggle. Figures that people see on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, often disillusion people into thinking that the self-employed life is a breeze as long as you have enough followers. Yet, you also need a certain amount of grit and self-belief in order to get to that level.
Self-employment is insanely rewarding but the lows are equally as gruelling. Don’t worry if it happens to you, it is part of the journey that you are on and it will make you grow and flourish. But if you have not yet decided whether you wish to take this path, then make sure you are ready to ride out both the peaks and the troughs.
Welcome, to the continuous weekly rollercoaster of the self-employed!