I often get asked what the main thing was that made me take the leap into self-employment.
There are pros and cons to everything in life and so swapping a career for business ownership was carefully considered before I took the plunge.
The article above reflects on the positives and negatives of self-employment, entrepreneurship, business ownership, whatever you decide to call it, however it is the answer to one question that determines whether it is right for you.
What do you want from working?
Is it title and progression?
None of this matters per se for a business owner. Progression is achieved organically as you develop every day by putting your hand to many things.
Title is not something that matters anymore. Being a Director, Principal, Associate, Vice President…
They are just words.
Is it money that is important to you?
Many business owners who start from scratch are unlikely to be sitting on a pot of gold and many do not enter self-employment to become filthy rich.
Some starting out in business may have a strategic plan to launch, scale up and make their fortune through self-employment. The ability to have high earning potential might be enabled with a rigid business plan and careful pricing.
The other side of the coin, of course, is that there are some business owners that wish to earn just enough to allow them to live financially satisfactorily and they are able to do so by adapting their business accordingly.
What do you want from your role?
Any business owner does not have one role only. They have many hats to wear and this can be hugely satisfying for anyone wishes to learn and progress.
The satisfaction that is gained from owning a business is limitless. With that comes responsibility and those faint of heart need not apply.
They say variety is the spice of life
Have you ever asked a self-employed person what their plans are for the day and then ask them what they did at the end of it? It is unlikely to be the same answer that they give you...
There are always curveballs as well as the necessity to cover off the things that were on the planned to do list, and so flexibility in adaptability comes in handy.
If you are the type of person that prefers a study routine and planned regime, business ownership might not be for you.
For the most organised and well-planned people, whilst it is advantageous for them to be so, it is important to recognise that business ownership can be ever changing.
Do you have to have a team around you?
It is really important to recognise that being a business owner lead to long and regular periods by yourself.
If you’re a type of person that needs to be with people, bouncing ideas of them from hour to hour, business ownership is going to be a tough gig.
Being decisive and being able to work independently is something that I believe most business owners would say they often do.
I have very much enjoyed being able to make the decisions that I feel is best suited to the business and being accountable for them.
Can you say ‘No’?
Any business owner needs to get used to be able to say “No!’
Once a person gets used to understanding their boundaries and being able to decline what is asked of them, life as a business owner can be really enjoyable.
A business owner does not have to work with anybody. They do not wish to, they are in control of what they do, how they do it and why they do it.
It would be foolish for a business owner to do any of this without justification, moral values, and so on, however, the control is ultimately in their hands.
Can you ditch the guilt?
Clearly, any business owner requires a good work ethic and a high level of discipline.
Provided the work has been handled well, and the business owner conduct themselves with integrity, the guilt trips need to be ditched.
It took me a while to feel comfortable being out and about rather than at my desk during the ‘normal’ working hours between 9am and 5pm.
It was a hard one for me to break, but it is important to acknowledge that being self-employed means you can organise your working day to suit you and your needs.
Doing something different from what I would have done in the corporate environment that I was in for decades and feeling guilty for it did not serve me well.
It is an additional skill that I have worked hard to achieve, and whilst I thought my time management skills were exceptional way back then, they are even better now.
The main drivers
Getting back to the question of what the main thing was that made me take the leap into self-employment…
There were two things really.
The first and main factor of leaving the secure corporate world in London that I had known for almost 20 years was my health.
Having hEDS (Hypermobile EDS) was definitely taking a toll on me. London is not the easiest city to commute in and out of, keeping a very strict timetable to support a very busy person around the clock whilst having a young family.
By the time Friday arrived, much of the weekend was taken up recovering physically for the onslaught that was commuting and working full time.
The second main influence on my decision of leaving a corporate environment where is my change in values.
I had learnt so much within my corporate career through the roles I had, and some of the people throughout my time in London taught me a huge amount.
I began to feel that I reached a ceiling and the challenges that I once faced with a run of the mill obstacles, that didn’t take as much thought.
I felt a sense of change in myself, as well as those around me, and it became clear that my time in the corporate world was not one I was suited to when I left.
For me, it was the right time to leave the corporate world and venture into self-employment.
I had achieved what I set out to do, gained experience through the many roles that brought different responsibilities with each and I was happy to put aside the social elements of being employed within a corporate environment for one that could focus on a lifestyle more suitable for my family and me.
The key for me was timing.
Had I taken the leap into self-employment earlier in life than I did, I do not believe I would have had the necessary experience and emotional intelligence to have been successful.
That is not to say that I would not have been able to have launched a business earlier in life, however, for me the time in head to be right in order to drive it forward successfully.
Three years later, I look back to my corporate experience with gratitude for what I learnt along the way, but mainly how I would not wish to deal with some of the elements that were unnecessarily binding throughout the years I had in full-time employed work.
Being self-employed fulfils me in a way that I had not expected.
There are fewer barriers to what can be achieved.
I often wonder if it is because those barriers are now eliminated by me and me alone, as I am fully responsible and accountable for everything.
I was never into the blame game so this works for me.
In my previous chapter within the corporate world, the decision making was ultimately not mine and so there was little ability to follow the exact path that was meant for me.