In January I went self-employed and started my own business, www.smartofficeservices.net. My business plan is to offer services to local business, entrepreneurs, charities, clubs and groups. I want to offer some mainstream services, such as bookkeeping and office admin, and also offer some unique services such as e-Media solutions. My personal plan, is to be able to do work I love, with the variety and challenges I crave, and to be able to do this around caring for my family and being a full time Mum.
As I have only worked part time for one business for the last for four years, and done some freebie stuff for friends now and again, the going self-employed part was not as scary for me as it would be for some, I am not giving up a regular income to give it a go, I still work for the business only in a self-employed capacity now. Darling Hubby (DH) is also very supportive, and is happy to continue supporting our household to see if I can get this off the ground. Little man (C) starts school full time in September this year, and if my business is not good I will start looking for jobs so that we have a second regular income.
I hold qualifications for the skilled services I am offering , which is great, but for some of the newer services I want to offer I am either unskilled or only part trained, so my first task as a self-employed person (SEP) is to take on the extra training I need and do some ‘gratis’ work to build up my portfolio – I would personally not employ someone who could not show examples of their work, so would not expect any potential clients to take me on without checking out my portfolio and any testimonials first.
So, my website is up and running, I am enrolled on a copy editing and proofreading course, and I am volunteering to do ‘jobs’ that will boost my portfolio and experience, all this ground work is finally paying off, I was approached to do an internet research role for a local company, unfortunately I could not commit myself to the hours required, however, the ‘boss’ was impressed with my skills and versatility and has a few projects in the pipe line that he would like to talk to me about. I was disappointed at the time, however, a few days later I received a desktop publishing enquiry and am having a consultancy meeting next week to have a look at the project. In retrospect, I am happy that I did not get the internet research role, as this more exciting project has come along, and I would not have been able to fit it into my work schedule.
I am also working on two personal projects, that hopefully going forward, will earn me an extra income, and they will also be great for boosting my portfolio as they will cross several areas of my expertise.
So at this point in time my work commitments are the following:
- 1 Existing – bookkeeping, Social Media Management, website and general admin. PAYING
- 1 consultancy booked PAYING – with potential for contract after consultancy phase
- 1 Short term Social Media Management – Free
- 1 eBook – Free
- 2 poster designs – Free
- 1 sports programme – Free
- 1 e-Booklet – Free
- 1 Social Media Project – mine
- 1 website project – mine
I know that I have taken on a lot of Free work, but at the time I was thinking more about my portfolio, and not the actual time this would take, hence quite a few late nights, no time to blog, read, watch TV or to just relax.
Some days I just sit and think, how can I fit this all in? I am a Mum, so during the day, I clean, I iron, I cook, I spend time with C, take him to classes, groups and on play dates, and on the days when he is not at pre-school my ‘working day’ will start at 8 pm after he goes to bed. On other days I just don’t know where to start with my ‘work’ and how to fit it into my already busy life. One thing I know now, is that I want www.smartofficeservices.net to be a success, but to do this I need to organise my time better, to prioritise my work – my personal projects might be the most exciting for me and the ones I am happy to give my heart and soul for too, but they don’t pay the bills (yet), and as I need an income, anything that brings a financial boost needs to be put first.
So, I have realised, that working ‘free-flow’ and doing what I want when I fancy it, and on occasion cutting it tight on deadlines, is not working for me and is not best for my business. I need to organise my work, family and social time much better, so am going to buy a project planner where I can block out slots for everything and stick to it – and if I take on paying clients anything I am doing for free needs to be pushed back unless I am willing to stay up to the early hours to complete it.
So for anyone starting out as self-employed offering the same of similar services as I do, these are my lessons learned (so far):
- Do work for Free – but only if it is really going to benefit your portfolio/experience. Restrict free work to the areas where you have just qualified or have limited experience. Before saying ‘yes’ to anything, think do I need to do this for free, if you are giving up your valuable time there needs to be some benefit to you.
- Plan your time effectively – not just your work time, all your commitments need to be considered. Think about when you work best, can you move your other commitments around so that this is the time you are able to work?
- If you have allocated two hours to a client, set an alarm for 10 minutes before the two hours is up – this gives you time to finish up where you are and take any notes for when you pick the work back up, whether that be in a few hours, or a few days.
- A difficult one – if you really don’t like the idea of the doing the job offered, don’t do it just because you need the money. A half hearted job is a job half done and it will not reflect well in your portfolio or testimonials. So unless you are absolutely desperate don’t do it.
If you are in a similar situation, or just have some ideas of how to be more effectively manage and balance your work, family, social life – let me know.
Thanks for reading.
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