10 reasons I wanted to work for myself… and how that’s going
12 months ago the opportunity arose for me to do something different, something new. A number of things aligned at once to enable me to set off on my journey as a solopreneur. I had a completely blank sheet, not knowing what I’d do or how it would work, but I set off on a voyage of discovery to see what would emerge.
Looking at it now, I can see a list of reasons I wanted to work for myself and as the year has flown by (sooooo quickly!) I thought it would be good to reflect on these and see how that’s all working out for me! It’s not often enough that I really stop and think about it – I have a deep feeling that this is the right thing for me and that’s usually enough. But every now and then I like a little review…!
One thing I really wanted to have in my new role was variety. Variety of the work I did, the clients I worked with and how I spent my days.
I’d say this has worked somewhat – I have more ideas that I have time to make a reality, but I know that to get my portfolio where I want it to be will take some time. In the meantime I’ve worked with a variety of clients (although most within the same sector) on a variety of topics and have even stepped out of my comfort zone to try a few things too.
Looking forwards I’d like to work with a wider variety of clients, but I know it will take time to reach them! And my product offering will also become more varied when I get around to them all!!
2. Decision making power!
There’s something about being able to make decisions that really drives me. I don’t tend to dilly dally on making them, I like to be able to make a decision and put it into action. However, it appears that I have been slow on making the odd decision or so. Sometimes it’s the simplest of questions from a trusted friend that makes you just go “oh yeah, I hadn’t thought about it. I’ll decide this then…”
It’s talking with my peer network that will help me overcome these points going forwards and me becoming more aware of when I am putting off decisions.
3. Do what I love
I knew that if I was going to work for myself it had to be doing something that I loved. It would have been easy to slip into the world of OD consultancy, but to be honest there’s a few things in OD I’d be happy never to see again (enter the competency framework….!). So I took my time to think about what I loved doing and started to sculpt a business around that. I know it won’t stay static and over the year things have popped up that I’d forgotten I loved. That’s one of the most exciting things I think – rediscovering what you love and finding a way to make it a job.
I know this will continue over the next 12 months too.
4. Be more creative
I love being creative – not just in arts and crafts, but in the way I think and the ideas I can come up with when I’m my best self. Having had little glimpses of it over the year before I set up on my own, I was determined to make this more prominent in my new world. It’s starting to happen, but my best ideas come at the most unexpected times, or when I make time to truly think creatively – something I don’t do often enough.
Action for the year ahead – make more time for creativity!
5. Work life balance
“You’ll work more hours on your own business than you ever did when you were employed” was said to me time and time again. My response…. “No, I won’t.” I was really clear with myself from day one that I needed to have a good work life balance. I wanted to work smarter, not longer and I wanted my job to work for me, not the other way around. Yes, there are times when I need to work a long day or week, but there are also times when I’ll take a day off to meet a friend, or take a long break in the middle of the day to do my own thing. At times it’s been hard to make this mind shift, but I continue to work on it and I’m determined not to slip into bad habits. There’s one other thing of course – when it’s your own business it’s never far from your mind, so even in my downtime I might be thinking through a business problem – whether consciously or not. But that’s how it goes for now.
6. Get things done!
Ah, getting things done – probably one of my favourites. Being able to make a decision and crack on with making it happen and then seeing the results is wonderful. Yes I procrastinate on things and yes I get distracted, but all in all I see progress. And when I’m not seeing progress I call in help – whether that’s someone to talk it through with to help unblock it, or someone to lend me a pair of hands. It doesn’t need to be a hundred things a day, but movement forwards towards where I want to get to.
7. Be in control
It’ll be no surprise to you by now that I like to be in charge of things. The idea that I can do my own finances, IT, admin, design etc is exciting to me…… until something goes wrong!! For most of the part I can work through it and figure out how to do it, but IT….. that does my head in! I’d consider myself fairly technical too and I’m not afraid to have a go, but since losing all my data at the start of the year I’m paranoid about it happening again! So any sign of IT issues and I panic! I’m still networking to find an IT peer supporter ?
8. The timing was right
Timing is everything. To me it felt like a now or never opportunity to take the plunge into being my own boss. The idea came out of nowhere in reality and I’d mulled it over for a only few months before making it happen. When I say I’d mulled it over – it was only the concept of business ownership and not much to do with what the business would be. As soon as I made the leap I knew it was the right thing to do. It’s felt right the whole time and I’ve never once thought I’d rather be employed – even when a whole series of Learning and Development jobs flooded the market – ones that I’d have leapt at only a few months earlier. I consider them a test to my resolve…. I’m sure there will be more tests to come.
9. Create a job for the future, not just for now
Having read a few books about working smartly and building a business for the future, I had a clear vision in mind of where I wanted to get to in a few years time in terms of my business model. It’s not a simple case of just doing that straight away, it needs to be built up over time, but I can definitely say I’m heading in the right direction. Year two for Imagine If will see a much bigger focus on this and I’m excited to see it develop.
10. To be proud
The final reason is around wanting to be doing something I’m proud of. One of the most common questions people ask when you meet them for the first time is “what do you do for a job?”. I wanted to be able to reply with passion and be proud about what I do and why I do it. As the year has gone on it’s been much easier to do this – to start with I didn’t even have an answer; now I have my 1 minute answer nailed. But it’s only nailed for now, because as my services and products change, so too will the answer to “so what do you do”. And that is just how I want it!
If you are thinking of going solo I’d 100% recommend it. Even with the downs, the ups are worth more than I could say (because it’s all about the feelings!)
I can’t believe a whole year has passed already – it’s gone so fast…..!! Here’s to plenty more years to come.