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The best things about working for yourself

Being master of your own destiny. This is a biggie. As Trent, who runs his own food business says, “you want to get up, you want to do stuff, because you can see where you are going and what is happening.”

Getting to do something that you love. Levente, a personal trainer, says “If someone wants to lose weight, or someone wants to be stronger or more muscular, I really enjoy seeing the achievement."

10 cute signs that I work for myself

Yesterday a friend, who mostly works herself, told me she had booked herself some bargain flight tickets to New York.

Then she realised she'd forgotten she actually has a part-time job. Like, working for someone else. Oops!

And I was just in my bathroom adding the first layer of colour to my toenails, when it occurred to me that not everyone thinks it's normal to work on their toes in between work commitments.

So, ten cute signs that I work for myself:

Becoming recognized as an expert

While looking after her two small children, Lillian Bridges knew she wanted to finish writing her book.

“I took a class at UCLA on how to write a non-fiction book."

"The teacher said, make yourself an expert in the eyes of the publisher. I said, I don't feel like an expert.”

“He said, well how long have you done faces? I said, well since I was five. He just burst out laughing and said, okay Lillian, if you're not an expert nobody is - go teach a class. I said, what?”

Keeping the RIGHT clients

In my line of work, and I reckon in yours, half of the knack of building a good business is in avoiding the D4s.
 
What do I mean?
 
You rate your customers in two ways.  One to four is on fees, or the income they generate for you.  One is good and four is bad. 
 
A to D is how much of a nuisance they are.  How much of your time they take, and how much bother they are to you.  D is bad.
 

The satisfaction of creating art that people want to buy

Ann Ardron sold her first painting when she was in her early twenties, but never really considered it as a career until much more recently.

“I didn’t really think of myself as artistic then, in fact I don’t really think of myself as artistic now, because I think of myself as quite technical. Art was just a hobby for a long period and then it gradually kind of crept back.”

Seduced by the lifestyle of self employment

Julie* has been an insurance broker for fifteen years, and three years ago she decided to work for herself. Since then she’s been gently seduced by the freedoms of working for herself.

“I was very good to begin with, I used to work from my office in the City. I’d go in and do a normal working day and then I thought I can be a little bit flexible with my time."

"Then I got a puppy.”

Five steps to delegation

Having too much to do seems to be a permanent feature of working for yourself.

Oops, hang on a tick while I just answer the phone, send three emails and find a cure for cancer. OK, now where was I?

Oh yes. If you’re way too busy, but you’re lucky enough to have a helper, here are five steps to delegation, and giving yourself space to think.

Quality time at home with the wife

Simon* spends most of his time at home with his wife, and he clearly wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We’ve been together eight years, and we’ve spent genuinely the majority of that time together. Not just the majority of the evenings, or the majority of the weekends, we have spent a majority of that time together.”

“It’s just lovely. I can pop out of work and see my wife immediately.”

Simon’s wife also works from home, in her own business.

An actor's life of uncertainty

After a drama degree, theatre school in Ireland, and RADA, Stephen Darcy “was 26 basically before I hit the adult world.” Working for yourself generally includes quite a lot of uncertainty, but life as an actor seems to stretch that to the max.

In a year he typically works six or seven months. “The last two years I’ve been extremely lucky with commercials. A commercial that you might do in a day or three days can earn you your year’s salary.”

Running a small business means somehow trying to be good at EVERYTHING

I'm managing director of my business. Marketing manager too. I hold full responsibility for service delivery and operations. I'm in charge of IT strategy and accounts receivable. I'm the web designer, procurement clerk, compliance officer, sales team, book-keeper, accountant, training co-ordinator, chief cook, and definitely bottle washer.

And I find that I do some of these jobs better than others.

Jack of all trades, but master of only some of them.

Why do some of us start working for ourselves?

I’ve been wondering, what is it that separates us from all those people who stay working for someone else?

I don’t think it’s that we’re the only ones interested in being our own bosses. I’m pretty sure lots of people who are being told what to do have dreams of running their own show.

It doesn’t seem either like we’re a bunch of dilettante rich folk, with nothing to lose and no financial commitments like mortgages and raising children. No.

Taking over the family farm

Mobile phones have made quite a lot of difference to life as a farmer; as I speak to Phil Mappledoram he’s bustling about his fields in his tractor.
 
Phil’s family have been farmers for 80 years.  His three older sisters weren’t interested in taking on the family business (and mortgages), but he went straight from A-levels to agricultural college and back home again. 
 

Actress turned model, poet and author

Listening to Venus Jones’ story is kind of touching. Her career has gone from strength to strength, but powered not so much by self-belief, as by the belief others have had in her.

She is doing great, despite a really modest attitude towards her wide range of talents.

“It was maybe 2000 was when I stopped doing full-time work. That was when I was working for the Boys and Girls Club and youth programs. I was an individual service counselor and a project coordinator.”

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