7 Lessons I Have Learned From Being Self Employed

7 Lessons I Have Learned From Being Self Employed

Although I have been self-employed for a couple of years, things are completely different when you're not working a day job alongside your business. It's been an entire year (!) since I quit my day job to run Oh My Clumsy Heart full time and it was, undoubtedly, the best decision I have ever made. Here are a few things I have learned over the past year.

1 | Knowing when to say no is just as important as knowing when to say yes
The fear of missing out is strong with creatives, however, it’s impossible to do everything to a consistant standard. I have learned that not every opportunity is a good opportunity; sometimes it’s best to say “no” and conserve enthusiasm and creativity for bigger, better projects. But it’s just as important to say know when to say “yes,” even if that means working crazy hard to make it work.

2 | There will be times when you will FREAK OUT
What I have learned from talking with other creatives is, there will always be moments where we question what we’re doing and whether it’s good enough; when those slow days hit, it’s hard not to go into panic mode and wonder whether we really did royally screw it all up this time. While it’s never been a case of “feast or famine” with my business, I have experienced slow months where I’ve wondered, “what if no one buys anything ever again?” Likewise, when it's crazy busy and you feel overwhelmed with work, it's easy to panic and start worrying about how you're going to get all the work done in time. Some days will be slow, things go wrong, mistakes happen, the work load might get heavy - hang in there and try not to freak out, you really don’t need to worry so much.

3 | Make friends and suffer fools gladly
I have always known you should surround yourself with awesome and inspiring creative people but suffering fools gladly has been a tough lesson. It’s not always easy to stop ourselves becoming irritated or angry with people we think are doing or saying stupid things, but I’m slowly learning to bite my tongue, laugh it off, and get on with my own work. I have learned, in order not to get mixed up in negativity and petty behaviour, we must know when to pick our battles.

4 | Work hard, play harder
I am crazy passionate about work; I never really know where the line is and when it’s time to stop. I have learned it’s crucial to have quality down time to match the passion I have for my job - you can't do everything and that's OK. In order to live a happy, fulfilling life there has to be a balance between the two. I have now reclaimed my weekends, I take regular breaks, and I go on holiday without feeling guilty about it; I have built a daily routine that works and I’m much happier and more productive as a result.

5 | It’s not how busy you are, it’s how hard you work
It’s not how many hours you work it’s how productive those hours are. Some weeks I work only a couple of hours per day, other weeks I rack up 50-60 hours. What I have found is, sometimes those days I do less are the most productive. It’s all about time management and creating an efficient work schedule, not how many hours you spend in the studio. Let’s quit glorifying being busy as though it’s a signifier of success; it's not morally superior to be busy, it’s far more important to be productive.

6 | Know your legal rights
I experienced a sharp learning curve when I encountered a rather upsetting incident during the latter part of last year, which I didn’t really know how to deal with. It eventually all got fixed after a couple of sleepless nights, but I had to do a lot of reading up on my legal rights. The moral of this story is: don’t leave it until the last minute - know what your rights are and how to protect yourself and your business.

7 | Big dreams aren’t better dreams
Growth is optional - we don’t have to strive for someone else’s dream. Not everyone wants to build an empire out of their business and not wanting that doesn’t mean you’re not ambitious enough. It’s all about setting personal goals and working towards achieving them. Last year I faced a lot of big decisions and I’m pretty sure this year is going to see a whole lot more, but I’m keeping my own ambitions in mind when I agree to (or decline) those opportunities.

There honestly isn’t a single thing I loathe about this job and the tasks I dislike are only minor niggles not worth complaining about. Self-employment is amazing; it’s tough, it’s not for everyone, and a lot rides on a very small ship but I wouldn’t exchange it for anything.