Tag: Self-employed

I’m in charge…help!

Recently I was talking to a contact about what it was like becoming self-employed. She said she hadn’t realised that growing her business was not going to be quick and how lonely self-employment can be. This got me thinking.

I became self-employed after years in the corporate world. There I had become quite senior and had people around me who did things: IT, finance, recruitment, admin etc and, more importantly, work was generated by the internal processes, I never had to get work, work came to me. Then I became self-employed. I can remember the first day, sitting at my desk, waiting for the work to arrive. I suddenly realised that not only did I have to go and get work (I sort of knew that) but I also had to be all the support for my business—IT, finance, recruitment, admin etc. I tried to generate work by moving my phone around but that didn’t work and I made lists of who might want my service and what “other stuff” I needed to do to run my business. I also drank a lot of coffee and cleaned a lot of cupboards! I was overwhelmed.

I was extremely fortunate because some of my friends had said they would use my service so I contacted them and that got me started. It also meant that I could practise and fine-tune my business processes and practices within a supportive environment. More importantly, they introduced me to their contacts and so the business grew. What also happened was that a contact I had made introduced me to networking. I soon realised that I had always networked, had always worked at building business relationships. So, I was comfortable with networking and realised that the people I met were able to provide the services that would support my business. This meant I could focus absolutely on doing the jobs I got and getting more jobs.

I’ve just written the last two sentences in a few minutes but the growth of my business, despite all the network of support, took a couple of years to feel stable and that feeling is always there at some level. On March 23rd, 2020 the announcement of lockdown meant that on paper I didn’t have a business. It really proved to me that as a business owner I must always be vigilant and not take things for granted.

25 years after starting my first business I’m still self-employed, still living by my three rules (have fun, never do anything I don’t want to do with anybody I don’t want to do it with, never work full-time or permanently for anybody again) and I am still staying vigilant. The difference from when I started is now I have people who know me and support me, sometimes by providing services to my business, people who are fans of my business and who introduce business people to me. But I still remain vigilant because none of us know what the future holds.

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

What are your work rules?

Recently I was talking to a new contact who said his diary was available “24/7” to his customers, and I asked him when he had time for himself. He said he didn’t have much time to himself, but he wanted new customers and he wanted to provide a great service to his existing customers.  This got me thinking, why didn’t I work 24/7?

I think at one level any business owner works on their business 24/7 because they have ideas about their business whether they are working or not.  I find that ideas, solutions, plans often drop into my brain when I am exercising. Now that could be because I’m focussing on something other than work, usually that focus is of the “I must be doing it right ‘cos that hurts” type. Suddenly I’ll see how something could be done or have an idea for something new or a new way of doing something. That is normal apparently.

My work thinking can happen at any time, but I do not work 24/7. Why is this? I think there are three reasons:

My age. I am now thinking about retiring and having some other new adventures. When I was younger, I had more energy, that is a reality. I can still get excited by a new project and use lots of energy implementing it. When I compare my now self with my younger self I can see the difference. I can see the difference between my now self and younger contacts, as I say they are “young and thrusting” and it is fantastic to watch but I just don’t have that level of energy anymore.

My business history. I have been self-employed for over 25 years. I’ve had different businesses throughout that time, sometimes they overlapped but mainly they were the only business I had. The business I had for the longest was a catering business, which I had for 18 years. We had snack bars, units that were on building sites, we did outside catering, and I did some consultancy. I was busy. I had a good team, but I seemed to spend lots of my time firefighting: staff not turning up, regular customers booking at the last moment, and we had lots of customers, so the firefighting was against a backdrop of 24/7 work. Our shops opened at 7 am so staff started at 6.30, and we often had events in the afternoon and others that went on till the early hours. I had lots of teams to manage and lots of projects on the go at any one time. It was fantastic, but eventually, as I got older, I began to realise it was time to sell, which I did.

My type of businesses. As I developed my current business, I vowed that, whatever happened and however I developed it, I would not work 24/7 again. I would work Monday to Friday, no evenings, and no weekends. It is true that I have a business now that rarely requires firefighting. This is partly because of the nature of my business: it is almost unknown that anyone contacts me and says, “I need to network now!” in the same way customers would ring me and say “I forgot to order lunch for today! Can you help please?”  In addition, I have an amazing team of Group Directors who run their meetings and arrange all the admin relating to their meetings. I’m not involved. My job is to build the business, implement strategy, support Group Directors and members.  

I am very protective of my personal time. I worry about people who say they work 24/7 because we all need down time, time to spend time with our beloveds, time to relax and rejuvenate. So, if you do work 24/7 my questions are: “How long can you keep going and what will happen when you reach your breaking point?”

Thank you for reading, here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun,

Glenys

Brave self-employed people

Recently I was talking to a contact about being self-employed and she said that she hadn’t realised how brave you need to be when you are self-employed. This got me thinking. When I decided to leave the corporate world 25 years ago I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, just that I was having no fun, despite all the trappings of success: secretary, large office, and a parking space in London. (This latter benefit was the one that people used to get very excited about!) When talking to my beloved about leaving and setting up a business my beloved said, “Well, you’ve never done bosses well” and he was right. I always wanted to have an input, even just a tweak, of any project. Often this didn’t happen, which was frustrating. I also seemed to be spending more time keeping the politics of the organisation away from my teams so they could get on with their work, which was draining. So I decided to leave.

I was lucky in that we could afford for me to not make money, but I found it difficult not to have money coming in as I set up my first venture, an interior design business. I went from having a role I understood, with money every month, with bonus and pay rise every year to complete uncertainty about what to do, when to do it, how to do it and not worry about income. Slowly I learnt, with a lot of help from people I met, people I already knew, and a government organisation called Business Link (now sadly no more) which provided help and advice. Brilliant… and free! In fact, I was helped by people I networked with. There were nights when I didn’t sleep, sometimes because I was excited and sometimes because I was frightened, and sometimes because I was excited and frightened.

But brave? No, I never felt that.  The uncertainty suits my nature and I realised that I liked the uncertainty, the challenge of developing a business, finding opportunities and changing business, but this does not make me brave, it makes me happy. Some self-employed people might be brave, those that have to make enough to pay the bills, those that invest their redundancy money or savings to start a business. It does also not mean that those who are employed are not brave, because some provide stability for those, like me, who are having an adventure.

Whatever way you define yourself here is my gift to you: my Top 20 networking tips just follow this link: ebn.uk.com and complete the form to receive your copy.

Have fun

Glenys