For most of the last decade, I’ve been self employed. I’ve over-worked, under-worked (not through choice) and everything in between. I’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul, I’ve felt the richest person in town. I’ve loved the journey of becoming an entrepreneur and been ready to sack it all off!! My relationship with self-employment has resulted in me wearing many faces. The one complex convo’ that has remained throughout my experience, has been trying to explain it to the people in my life. Some have understood it more than others (due to their understanding, they are the folk I probably make the most effort with if I’m honest, therefore spend the most time with.) So today, I thought I’d share just a few things to help you understand and show love to the entrepreneur in your life.
Respect my work hours. How I love comments like ” it must be great being able to work/set your own hours”. Picture me sitting here typing this shaking my head! This morning, as an example, before I took a spin class at 09:45, I had already created 4x social media posts (they take way more time than you’d think, trying to be more creative than the post before, trying to think about what will achieve the result you’re looking for, what will get the most engagement, so share my bliddy posts please people ????). I’m seeing my accountant tomorrow (probz going to get told off .. AGAIN????), so I got my May ’19 accounts up to date and did a comparible between May ’18 & May ’19 (19% increase ????????, maybe my verbal slap from my accountant won’t be too heavy after all ????). I made sure my on line diary was up to date for bookings, so that I don’t double book myself (I’m human, it happens!) and then circulated my availability for this week across all the ‘socials’ ????, all before 09:30am this morning. My working day doesn’t stop once I’m home from my busy sports therapy clinic.
As my hands have literally been tied up treating clients, therefore any enquiries I may have had, need to be responded too once I get home. Invoices emailed for clients who need reimbursing from their health insurance providers for treatments they have received, then the relentless push of social media promotion, because irrespective of how busy I am that week, when your are self employed, you never have 2 weeks the same, plus clients cancel/reschedule, so I have to be prepared for anything, so that I am still generating income! So yes, technically I make my own hours, and yes, I should have more flexibility, but that is not the reality, because, if I’m not working, I’m not being paid! I feel guilty on a regular basis saying “no” to invites, but generally, I work long hours and fit things in when I can, which includes just some alone time. Feeling guilty, for simply doing your job is a truly awful thing!
Understand the unique stress involved with self-employment. Can you remember the last week of exams, or having a deadline for something that is really important to you?! When you felt like the entire world depended on you getting a good grade?! Thats my entire life, except instead of grades, its my livelihood, and the livelihood of my clients. It can be incredibly intense. Many self-employed people may need very specific things to manage that high level of stress and responsibility. I require an odd balance of routine, alone time, introspection and exercise. Everyone is different, so please ask your friend/loved one, what they need, and do your best to be understanding of why they may need that, when you may not.
Time is extremely valuable. Often, to me, time is more valuable than dosh! Regularly, the amount of downtime I have to offer is very low, and it has to be divided up between friends, family and myself. So don’t take it personal if you don’t see much of me, I am a workaholic, because I have to be, my personal goals will not be a reality unless my business is successful. That might not be the right way, but, for now, its my way. If you want me to work less, please please don’t try to make me feel guilty about it, or tell me that my work ethic is wrong. When I am in the thick of working too much, it always feels like there is no other option. The best way to help me and my self-employed nappa, is to encourage me to think of myself more, and not guilt me into spending time with you. Trust me, you wouldn’t want my company if I haven’t finished something, or need to do something, I’ll have a restless head and be very distracted.
Support is the quickest way to out heart. Being self-employed is a high risk lifestyle. (Being employed is not an option for me, based on the hourly rate in my profession), therefore, support is the number one thing needed by a self-employed individual. A few ways to show your support may be:
Ask about my day. I’ve probably spent most of it living the life of several people, and I’ve done it alone for best part of it which can be quite lonely. I will have played the role of; accountant, marketer, photographer, counsellor, graphic designer, cleaner, complaints department, HR and sports therapist, all in one day. Therefore, if someone shows genuine interest in what I do, it shows they care.
Believe in me. I regularly run through ways my business might fail in my head, I’m my own worst critic, hearing someone believes I can do it, rather than any doubts, is always appreciated.
Respect I’m working hard. Just because I get to choose my timing of my work, and just because I get to sit behind a lap top in Starbucks to do it, and just because I’m lucky enough to enjoy what I do, doesn’t make it any less work than your job. It doesn’t invalidate my stress and certainly doesn’t mean that everything is great all the time (my lap top wouldn’t be out my bag if it was)! It’s insulting to act as if I’m ‘living the good life’, and just ‘taking it easy’ all the time.
My business grows off the back of word of mouth, referrals, and from friends/family sharing my posts on the ‘socials’. The content may be of no value to you, but might be to someone you know. As I’ve also explained, that putting these posts together isn’t just a 30sec job, I’d be so very grateful if you could hit ‘share’ when I post some content.
I am writing this with the belief that we all want to love each other better ☺️, so this may be a start for you to love your self-employed dear one a little better, now you have a better understanding of their world.