Today, the 6th of February 2017, marks 11 years since I went solo and started my own ’empire’ in the world of Recruitment.
11 years. How is this even possible? In some ways, looking back at the beginning, it feels like it was only yesterday. Shacked up in the spare room of my little terraced house; I’d hired my first employee, an 8 week old Westie Puppy called Mac, I was all website-ed up and ready to go.
I can remember that feeling of excitement and nervousness so clearly. Obviously I had the usual worries that anyone does when going it alone:
- What if it just doesn’t take off?
- How long before I make any money?
- What if I just never make any money?!
- Am I setting myself up for a massive, public fail?
Yet the ‘what if’s’ were pushed aside and silenced (temporarily) by the much louder question of…
What if I don’t?
It seems that sometimes, in order to really find out what you actually want to do, you need to go to the complete opposite of that to see what your gut reaction is. In my case, I knew I couldn’t NOT at least give this a go, see if it had any mileage, see what I was made of.
Having a conversation with one of my best friends last week, we were talking about my upcoming Business Birthday and I made the comment of “If someone had told me, on my first day of self-employment, that I would still be ‘going’ now, 11 years later, and asked me to describe what I thought it would be like; the kind of person I would be, the STUFF I would have and what the actual business would look like… I’m not sure I would paint the picture of the reality I have today…”
“So, if you knew how it would be, would you still have done it?”, she said.
This got me thinking. (NB: I really dislike when said friend gets me thinking. Nothing good comes from me doing this. Said friend should not encourage thinking, will have words with her on this at later date.)
Would I still have gone for it, if I knew how it would really be?
After staring out of the window for quite some time (which must have been fun for said Friend, bet she’s glad she came round that day.), I came to the conclusion that Yes.
Yes I would still have gone for it. I think I’d have just buckled up a bit more for the ride. Although I actually believe that my naivety had quite a big part to play in taking the leap of faith that I did; at the time I mistook this for bravery and wanting to be some kind of trailblazer or something like that.
Ha! Bless me.
So, back to the point of this post. What have I learnt about being self employed over the past 11 years?
I’ve learnt that:
- I’m more resilient than I realised – I’ve made it through (relatively unscathed) some pretty crappy times in the last 11 years of business. Recessions, Re-brands and some seriously rubbish relationships (business wise. Although…)
- I’m fiercely proud of what I do. I adore my job and take it very seriously. I can’t imagine doing anything else and that is why I bang on about it as much as I do. #sorrynotsorry.
- I’ve made loads of mistakes. And some still make me cringe to this day.
- I’m thankful for the mistakes I’ve made. Because they’ve helped me to learn what NOT to do and to help others not to make the same mistakes.
- Being self employed is scary. The feeling of vulnerability and fear that it brings is like nothing I’ve ever known.
- Being self employed is brilliant. Making your own decisions, seeing your plans come to life and knowing YOU made it happen… This rocks, loads.
- Creativity. And I don’t mean just with Canva. I had never realised how creative you need to be when you’re self employed; from drawing up plans/contracts for a new business relationship, to offering flexible payment plans to suit the business your working for, to thinking of new ways to promote a new service. Wow. (But seriously, love Canva.)
- Honesty. There are A LOT of Billy Bullshitters out there, all quick to tell you how amazingly awesome they are doing in Business. And sure, some might be… But I have always made it my ‘thing’ to be super honest about my business, both in the good times and in the not so good (ok, make that dire) times. Being honest and open is always the way. Plus, you pull in the best advice that way. #winwin
- Plate-spinning. Self employment can sometimes mean spinning MANY a plate at the same time. But you must be realistic enough to know that it’s OK to let a couple smash. And that sometimes, you might need to pass a few plates over for someone else to spin on your behalf. Don’t be a martyr. Still working on this one btw.
- You should never, EVER compare yourself to anyone else. It’s great to have people to aspire to, that you are inspired by and that you respect. But at the same time, remember that if you spend too long worrying about what ‘the others’ are up to, you’re wasting precious time and energy that you could be spending on yourself and your own business.
- My family and friends are incredible. The support I’ve been given over the years just makes me want to burst with gratitude. Knowing how they believe in me and that they are proud of me, well… I have no words. Ok, I have two. Thank you.
So, there you have it. 11 things I’ve learnt in 11 years. It’s been – and continues to be – an emotional rollercoaster.
And I wouldn’t change it for the world. Thanks for being there to join me on the ride.