The Self-Employment Diaries: The good and the bad

Now that I have been self-employed for a grand total of three weeks, I feel I am expert enough to give you a full overview of the positives and negatives of working for myself (I’m definitely not, but I’ll tell you anyway).

Let’s start with the good:

1. No more Sunday blues: For years, I longed to work on BOKAC full-time and actually being able to do so is brilliant. Working for myself feels like a dream job so rather than dreading Monday’s, I wake up feeling excited to tackle the days ahead. I completely lose track of what weekday it is and when Friday suddenly comes around, it’s almost a bit of a disappointment.

2. The flexibility: There is no doubt that I am 10x more hard-working, productive and efficient now that I am working on something that I am so passionate about. However, the ability to be flexible with when, where and how I work is amazing. The fact that I can put into practice the advice I often hear about exercising during the day means I can take myself off for a 3pm swim, come back to work from 5pm-7pm, get loads done and feel all the better for it. I also love planning weekends out of London (one day I’ll do a post on the euro trips I take with my friends – cheap, so much fun and you feel like you’ve been away for a week!) and the fact that I can take the 5pm flight rather than the 8pm flight saves a lot of money. I then plan my hours to make sure my to-do list is still completed before I go which makes that break feel even more well deserved.

3. The support: I know I have spoken before about my dislike for the word ‘community’ (it just makes me cringe) but there is such a fantastic load of people also working for themselves and we’re all willing to help each other. Self-employment can be a bit lonely but I have already met so many people who have suggested working together and it’s so refreshing to work in different places and with different people. I always come away with loads of ideas and hope that they have the same.

4. The satisfaction: Every single second, minute, hour, day and week that I work is all for the good of me and my business. I am not slaving away to make someone else rich or having to burn the midnight oil for someone else’s deadlines – it is all for BOKAC and I would do anything for BOKAC! Whether we receive a booking from a new parent or see the 100th booking from one of our regulars (one of our families recently celebrated their 4 year anniversary with us!) it is so satisfying. It’s also great to hear from babysitters when they are enjoying being a part of BOKAC and the flexibility it allows them to do what they need to (work/study) as well as do what they love (spend time looking after children). The business might not be flying yet, but I can slowly see us starting to grow and the potential for how far we can reach is crystal clear in my mind – I feel so excited!

It’s never going to be all plain sailing so now for the bad bits:

1. The worry: Living off my savings and being entirely dependent on BOKAC for an income, is pretty scary. I have come off a fairly decent monthly salary to pocket-money at best with no view on when this will change.

2. The pressure: No one is actually putting pressure on me (except me) but in my head it is coming from these different sources: 1. My friends – working for yourself is kind of the dream and I think a lot of people do not think it’s a realistic one. In my head, my friends sort of see what I’m doing as a nice long ‘lifestyle holiday’ but are not sure that it’s sustainable. 2. My family – who again of course just want me to be happy but I want to make them proud and in my head, making BOKAC a success will make them proud (this is silly because I know just breathing makes a parent proud of their child!). 3. Other startups – there is healthy competition in the start-up world with everyone talking about their businesses and throwing in their two cents about what I should be doing (sometimes helpful, sometimes not but you always have to smile and be grateful for the suggestions). 4. Myself! This is the real source of pressure for sure: Will BOKAC work? Am I good enough to be the one to make it work? What will I do if it doesn’t work?? All very unhelpful thoughts that must be silenced.

3. The lack of direction: I have realised how much I thrive on being given direction and working collaboratively with others. Starting your day with a to-do list is great and there is certainly not a lack of things to be done but it’s hard to know whether I’m focusing on the right things, giving enough attention to what is important (and knowing what this is) and having goals and aims to work towards. I’m hoping that as time goes on, I’ll be able to make more of a plan in terms of where I should be each week, month, quarter, year etc so that I have targets in place to monitor my progress. I might even start giving myself yearly reviews!

From this list, the good outweighs the bad 4-3. However, the value I place upon the things I mentioned as ‘good’ makes working for myself the best decision I have made in the last year. I am stressed but also the happiest I have been in a long time and I can’t wait to see how this ‘journey’ (if I’ve already dropped in ‘community’ I might as well go the whole hog) develops and changes over the year.

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