Two pairs of feet facing towards text Passion Led Us Here
Passion Led Us Here

So You Want to Work for Yourself?

Self-Employment, 6 Months On

My name is Julie Marsh, and six months ago I took my first steps in self-employment, creating the Be You Consultancy. What a whirlwind those six months have been! I want to share my experiences with anyone who is thinking of or has just started their journey building their own company and working for themselves.

Why would you do it?

I had spent many years commuting and working in the corporate world. During the COVID pandemic and the lockdowns, I had so much time to reflect on what I was doing in life. I realised very quickly that I had no knowledge of my community, or my surroundings, and wondered what my ‘legacy’ would be.

That’s such a big question, isn’t it? What is my legacy? What is my imprint on this world? I’ve always believed in being authentic, kind, respectful, and thoughtful to those around me. After all, you never know what someone is going through at any given time but how could I make that pay the mortgage? After over 23 years working in HR, I knew I had a good skills base. I knew my values, so I ‘just’ needed to merge the two together… right? Well, it’s still a work in progress but I’m getting there.

My Reflections and Recommendations on Working for YourselfYou don’t have to have all the answers, but you do need to have faith in yourself.

  • You don’t need to have all the answers, but you do need to have faith in yourself.
  • Research all the actions you need to take to start a business. Include identifying your brand, your value proposition, where you sit in the market, your competition, and whether there is a gap in your local area for your skills.
  • Network – from day one. The people you network with may not be your customers but the people they know could well be!
  • Consider the different types of networking groups you could get involved with. There are lots, including online, hybrid, in-person, formal or less so, and local, regional, or national groups. Some are low cost and some are expensive but focus on the potential return rather than the cost of the group.
  • Look at what funding is available to you – grants, loans, or equity investments. What are the conditions?
  • Research locally available business guidance. I attended a brilliant course, called Grow Your Business run at the Allia Future Business Centre in Peterborough which is funded by the Government.  The aim of the course is to support businesses to grow by understanding finances, marketing, costing, your USP, and so on.
  • What you put in is what you get out, but it will take time. Your customers won’t come overnight but they will come if you work at it.
  • Give yourself time and be kind to yourself! I’ve found that I’m the marketing team, sales team, admin, trainer, coach, consultant, and accounts team – that all takes time.
  • Implement boundaries. Are you going to work 9-5 or a range of hours, where will you work – home or is there an office space you can use?
  • You will have wobbles, most days and that is part of the process. I was talking to someone recently who has many years as a sole trader. They confirmed the wobbles never leave you. If you have faith, make sure you are aware, and always look to the future you will be able to manage them.
  • Think about your plan B and plan C – what do they look like? If you have no customers, how will you make money?
  • Take time to reflect on your accomplishments. It’s no small thing to start a business. Whilst it’s important to look forward, look back at how far you have come! You’ll be impressed, I’m sure!
  • That network you’ve built and continue to build – use them as your sounding board, and listen to their experience and guidance. They will be able to support you in more ways than they probably realise!
  • Make sure all your paperwork, insurance, and other risks are managed.

In Conclusion

Most days I feel fortunate for the network I have around me cheering me on. Whether that is my Coach, my mentors, all the network groups I’m involved with, my friends and family, or those I interact with frequently. It’s hard going and yes, there are times that I worry about the bills, my customers, am I doing the right thing, but I know in my heart I am. I am a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for. What I love about being self-employed is the freedom to focus on what you want, to be able to network and meet people from the community, to be creative, and to be learning every day.

If I had the opportunity again, would I take it? The simple answer is yes, every time. If you are considering taking a similar path to mine, my most important piece of advice is to get as much advice as you can.

Written by Julie Marsh of Be You Consultancy & Coaching.

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