Shaking Off The Corporate Shackles: The First 6 Things I Learned When I Started My Own Small Business

Congratulations! You’ve escaped the rat race and decided to go it on your own.  Welcome to self employment. When I quit my job I imagined that my life as a freelance writer would involve tapping away on my laptop in coffee shops, long dog walks and lots of time spent wearing my pyjamas. I had a rude awakening and a massive reality check but do I regret making the jump? Fuck no.

The hours are flexible, the commute is non existent and I get to choose my own annual leave. On the flip side, the hours are sometimes long, the pay is uncertain and holidays are unpaid. However, after nearly twenty years of working for someone else in a corporate setting it’s hard to wrap your head around being your own boss and I sometimes feel the same anxieties I did when I was an employee and that’s when I need to check in with myself.

I didn’t go self employed to feel anxious or work with people I don’t like. In fact I did it so I wouldn’t have to do either.

I didn’t go self employed to feel anxious or work with people I don’t like. In fact I did it so I wouldn’t have to do either.

Self employment is empowering and challenging at the same time.  If you’re just starting out yourself it’s a steep learning curve and you have to be resilient to keep going.  These are the first 6 big lessons I learned when I started my own business.

1. Your Business, Your Rules – If you want to ask for payment up front, do it.  I personally don’t want to spend hours working and then have to chase people for payment.  Most clients treat you well and pay their invoices but I’m not the type of person who likes to risk bad feeling or confrontation so I prefer to get payment upfront. That’s the beauty of running your own business, you get to make the rules. That said you’re allowed to be flexible, it’s up to you.

2. Communication, It’s Okay To Be Yourself – I’ve found it hard to break out of corporate speak. I find myself writing emails the same way I used to when I worked for someone else. That’s not who I am or how I speak in real life. I am my brand. If I communicate with someone online or in email in one way and then I’m completely different when I meet them in person, they’re going to be confused. I want to work with people who get me. So if I want to be informal and humorous in my emails, I will. The client who doesn’t like it, isn’t the client for me.

3. Prices – When you start up a business, everyone will have an opinion on your prices. I was told not to be the cheapest but not to price myself out of the market. I was told by someone else that my prices were too low which would make people think I was shit. In the end the best advice I had was to find out how much I needed to earn to pay all the bills, as a single person and be able to live, then think about how much I wanted to earn and then try and find a happy medium between the two.

Work out how much you need to earn and how much you want to earn. The sweet spot is in the middle. I charge what I know my writing is worth. If anyone says you’re too expensive, they can’t afford you. Jaguars are too expensive for me but that doesn’t change their price and it doesn’t stop people from buying them.

4. Find Your Tribe And Work With Clients You Like – If you didn’t like your colleagues in the place you used to work and you recognise those behaviours or qualities in potential clients, don’t work with them. Don’t be miserable in your own business. You may as well have stayed miserable with a regular wage, if you’re going to continue to work with arseholes.

5. Get A Community – starting your own business is hard, scary and hugely challenging. Find people who are facing the same challenges and build a network of support around you.  

Starting your own business is hard, scary and hugely challenging

6.  Don’t Try And Do Everything Yourself – When I first started lots of people said “outsource before you think you need to” and I don’t think I understood what they were really talking. I heard other business  owners saying “pay someone else to do the stuff in your business that is not your area of expertise, so you can focus on the areas in which you’re making money” and I didn’t get it at all.

I do now. I make my money writing copy for people. My clients buy my words. My time is limited because I have three kids that I also want to spend time with. If I’m trying to do my own accounts and my own admin that’s less time for me to make money writing. So now I pay someone else to do my accounting and in the long run that’s going to save me time and money. At first I thought “what, I can’t afford to pay anyone else I’m trying to make my own living” but you can’t afford not to and it’s never as expensive as you think it’s going to be.

If you are ready to outsource your blog or web copy writing, message me to find out how I can free up your time so that you can make more money.