So, it’s official. As of last Thursday, I am now totally self-employed. Until that day I was working part-time as a Year 6 teacher in a local primary school. But it came to the point that all business owners find themselves at sooner or later. I was doing too much and not doing any of it well enough.
Part-time work; full-time hours
Having started dabbling in the wonderful world of weddings when I was still a full-time teacher (and member of the leadership team), going part-time at work promised me that ultimate gain – more TIME. Time to spend with my husband, time to hoover the house, time to bake cakes and just sit on my backside now and again without the laptop buzzing in front of me. My husband cynically retorted that no, I wouldn’t have more time because I’d simply fill it with more work. “No, I won’t”, I meekly replied, knowing full well that he was right. And that I did. November and December weren’t too bad – the odd pop-up tea room, keeping on top of the blog and fairs and it was all quite manageable. But then, after Christmas, and a horrific Ofsted inspection, it suddenly hit me. How am I going to do ALL of this when the wedding season kicks off? Splitting myself in two is something I do constantly, but even I couldn’t split myself into four or five pieces to be business owner, teacher, wife, friend & everything else life demands of us.
Resignation (to working all hours)
Leaving teaching was a very, very hard decision for me. Especially having taught Year 6 for the last two terms, to up and leave them before their big exams was, ultimately, a selfish act. But don’t worry, one particular parent told me so and tried to make me feel terrible about my decision to put myself first. I take comfort in the fact that my class had made amazing progress since I had taught them and that my job share partner would continue our excellent work. As I told one parent, when asked if I couldn’t wait til the summer, I probably could, but I’d probably also be dead. Being self-employed isn’t like any other job – I never stop working. I swear, even in my dreams, I’m figuring out the best way to promote my next event or how to word my next article for a magazine I might be writing for. And, yes, it is MY choice so I can’t moan about it and generally I don’t because I know how amazingly lucky I am to be doing what I love.
The future is scary. I don’t have a wealthy husband to keep me sitting on the sofa and just earning enough to warrant having my nails done every month. Going from a salary of nearly £35,000 and being the main bread winner in the household, to being fully self-employed was (and still is) a big financial worry. In some ways, we are lucky. I have no children and a mother who works tirelessly for me, for free. I have an entourage of friends I can call on to lend a hand waitressing and I know I can buy them a curry in return. But a financial uncertainty can sometimes be the incentive we need to work even harder (if that’s possible?). I’ve had to make some harsh decisions about how I work with people from now on. I can’t do random people “favours” anymore and receive nothing in terms of payment or reward because my time is now so precious to me. My friends know I will always be there for them, and some of my friends are other industry professionals, and people who have supported me since the very beginning and I’ll never forget that. But I’ve had a few incidents recently where “favours” have turned into nightmares and I’m drawing the line at working with unreliable or selfish people. No more Mrs Nice Girl, I’ve gotta be tough!
Enough about me….
Over the next few weeks, there will be series of posts aimed at helping others in the same situation. But for now, I’d love to hear from readers who have made that transition from working for someone else to self-employment. Is it what you imagined? Is there anything you’d change about how you did it? Share your stories with us.