Ive been a full time self employed interior designer now for a little over 2 months, and during that time I’ve taken on several new projects, continued with some existing projects, and basked in the luxuries that come with being self employed and working from home. But it's not all lie ins and cups of tea (although I DO lay in and I drink SO much tea). Here are 5 lessons (good and bad) that I’ve learnt in my short time as my own boss:
1) Staying focussed is HARD
I’ve learnt that I will literally do anything else other than the thing im meant to be doing. Which is completely ridiculous because being self employed and an interior designer is my dream job, and I absolutely love it. But having just moved into a new house, I find that my focus really isn’t always where it should be, and a trip to Homebase to buy paint or a whip around the house Hinching (if you know, you know) will often win out on my priority list. To try and stay more focussed, im making more lists so that I have a clear idea each day of what I need to do, and im allowing myself regular breaks so that im not working solidly long enough for my attention to wander.
2) Cabin Fever is real
Being an interior designer can conjure up images of jetting off to glamorous meetings with clients, showcasing beautiful fabrics and fancy furniture. The truth is, at this stage of my business a lot of my clients are online, and for those that I do see in person, it's not that regularly. That means that I really don’t have a lot of reason to get out of the house during the day. I don’t have a remote office, or a huge list of projects I need to go and check progress on, or even suppliers that I need to visit. It’s mostly me and my laptop, snuggled on the sofa under a blanket talking to the cats and scouring the internet to source items with a Netflix boxset playing in the background. Friday can roll around and I realise I haven’t left the house since the weekend. It can make you go a little crazy! To avoid this, I’ve starting making sure I have a reason to leave the house at least once a day, to go food shopping, or arrange a coffee with my mum, or even go window shopping for an hour or two in the name of project research!
3) Being self employed changes your perspective on working
The idea of ‘work’ has always been the same thing to me; you work Monday - Friday, 9-5 and you get paid the same amount at the end of the month, and you need to go to bed early because you’ve got to get up early, and you dread Mondays and cant wait for Fridays. Well, since becoming self employed, that perspective has completely changed, which is both good and bad (although mostly good). I’ve learnt that if I want to take a day off mid week, I can, and I don’t need to ask anyone at all, or even feel guilty about it. The flexibility that being your own boss brings is completely refreshing. Im also trying to get out of the 9-5 mentality that is so engrained in my thinking. Ive only ever worked a 40 hour week all my working life because someone told me I had to work a 40 hour week. Now, being self employed means it's up to me whether I work 10 hours or 80 hours a week. The upside/downside of being your own boss is that you work whatever you need to work to get the job done and make a success of it and that can be a little or a lot.
4) Finding clients is hard
This is probably the scariest part of being self employed. I can only remain self employed as long as I have clients, and finding clients is not easy. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who has only been woking as an interior designer since March this year, I’ve had my fair share of clients and I’ve been very lucky to get them. But I’ve realised I start to get this feeling of dread as one project finishes and I don’t have another one lined up, and the 1st of the month rolls around I have 439574872 bills due to leave my bank account, and suddenly becoming self employed seems like the worst idea EVER and I start desperately scanning Indeed for a permanent job in any industry going. That feeling has taught me that it is absolutely essential as a self employed person to set aside solid time for marketing and networking, and to line up your projects properly to ensure you have a steady income as and when you need it.
5) Being self employed is a luxury you shouldn’t take for granted
Yes running your own business is hard and stressful and especially in these early days there are constant fears it will fail, but I also know how lucky I am to be in this position, and to be (so far, fingers crossed!) making a success of it. I have the luxury of being able to really enjoy my home, of not feeling tired constantly from early mornings and long commutes, and the luxury of doing a job I love. I feel a little glow of pride when I meet new people and I get to tell them that im an interior designer with my own company. Being self employed gives you a feeling of being in charge of an area of our lives which we usually end up giving an element of control to some else to dictate on our behalf (nearly all of us have a boss at some point, right?). It lets you set your own agenda and work the way you want to work. For me, this is one of the most important aspects and right now, that is exactly what I am doing.
So there you have it, a frank and honest review of how I'm finding the self employed life a few months in. Have you taken the leap to self employment? Do you sympathise with any of the above? Let me know in the comments!