Social media is littered with articles about how easy it is to run your own business. They harp on about the flexibility of being your own boss, working your own hours, working from home – doesn’t it all sound so great?
And yes, working for yourself can be very rewarding. You’re doing something you’re passionate about and getting paid for it, and you can also be at the school gates for pick up, meet a pal for coffee, enjoy a Pilates session and even get your groceries delivered mid-morning!
But it also comes with risks and worries – where you can find yourself working every hour God sends, constantly trying to find and impress new clients while keeping existing ones loyal, just to balance the books – or even falling down at the first hurdle thinking an hour’s work a day will pay the bills.
Littered with filtered photos, Instagram lures us in, closely followed by Pinterest filled with creative ideas and advice. Combined the reach of social media, it all looks so easy to “jack in the day job” and turn your well-loved hobby into fully-fledged, profitable business.
Meet Deborah (45)
With a 20-year (ahem, plus) career in IT marketing, single mum Deborah is now 8 years into running her own Marketing Consultancy business. With a boisterous 9-year-old at her side, who is often heard in the background on conference calls, she’s also turned her love of crafting into a small cottage industry as she attempts to run a house, keep healthy and help out at her son’s school.
“I’m not one of those super mums you see on social media – I’m one of those many women with multiple balls in the air, just like you, and some of them are hurtling to the floor at speed! I have just had to learn that some are going to fall, and that’s not been easy to accept – but some might just bounce!“
Today, in this busy, always-on world, many of us juggle a career that fits around school, taking calls on the school run, panicking about school holidays, stressed about bills, fending off the tax man, all while trying to deliver the best work on time to clients.
So, how does she do it?
“We all have days that are utterly overwhelming, where the hours in front of the MacBook clock up as the household chores stack up faster, and the need for a PA, a cleaner, a nanny, a chef, a handyman, a gardener and an ironing lady – or maybe just one of these people – for just one hour – seems like a life-changing event.
But I’ve had to learn to take a step back and try not to sweat the small stuff – which has been challenging for a perfectionist! I make sure I’m doing something I enjoy, so if glueing and sticking floats my boat on an evening instead of attacking the mammoth ironing pile, then I just do it!”
My twelve steps to a flexible life plan
- You can’t do it all – some things have to take a back seat. Like replacing that light bulb. Or the PTA.
- Ditch caffeine, not coffee – you’ll sleep so much better.
- No tech in bed. Try reading instead for 30 mins, even a trashy novel from the library, but it will help to switch off.
- Take time to talk – to anyone and everyone. You may even find your next opportunity in the school playground. Embrace networking, it’s a skill worth investing in and developing.
- Allow yourself some “me time” – this might not be possible every week, but squeezing in a quick run listening to Bros works for me.
- Make a task list – several if necessary – to stop worrying about what you’re supposed to remember. And it feels great when you tick one off. Setting up your own processes and standard ways of working – structure delivers results.
- Stop thinking everyone else is coping – they’re not – they are just good at looking like they are
- Believe in yourself – sometimes life is overwhelming – but remind yourself you are good at what you do (especially when there’s no-one else to tell you!)
- Make time to meet friends – WFH is lonely and everyone today is just so busy – book a date and stick to it.
- Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day – do a little bit well every day to build stronger results.
- Don’t believe everything you see on social media.
- Do something you enjoy – you’ll be passionate about it and it won’t feel so much like hard work.