Seeing as so many people have wanted to connect with me since moving on from my old employment, I thought it worthwhile me writing an article about my decision to just quit my job to become self-employed.
As soon as the news broke of my resignation I was inundated by colleagues and contacts wanting to meet and discuss their own future and desire for personal and professional change. I found I had inadvertently inspired many people to consider their choices, or at least voice them.
I must have been told over thirty times before my departure that I was “so brave” to be leaving. Nothing puts the fear into you more than dozens of people saying you are brave and it definitely gets you thinking, “can I retract my notice please!!!”
But is it really brave to leave a great salary and job you don’t dislike? Is it stupid? Maybe it is both? Anyway, now with some reflection time and a month’s experience as the newly self-employed, I thought I would tell you my reasons for going-it-alone. So, sit back, grab your coffee and enjoy my ramblings…
1. Being authentic
My number one is something I feel incredibly passionate about. Being authentic. Having read a great deal of books about the subject; including those which take you on a spiritual journey such as The Alchemist, The Celestine Prophecies and The Power of Now. I think you get to the stage in your life, when you think who am I? What is my purpose? Maintaining authenticity is a major contributor to this.
My authentic self is actually someone quite different from my “business self” and that rub is OK if you know you are promoting services or products that align with your sense of “self” but when you are working for another company it can be hard to reconcile how to maintain being “you.” This is particularly the case when you are working in a large organisation with lots of structures and systems in place. It can feel like Tom Cruise trying to make it through the laser beams to steal the diamond.
Now my own business focuses on activities and services that I feel truly reflect my skillset and more importantly my mindset. It aligns with my sense of self because I am able to undertake activities that cover a broad range of technical, creative and strategic skills, skills I really enjoy! The diversity feels like I send my brain to the gym every day and is often challenging but also so refreshing. I can also make choices about what I do and don’t do based on my authentic self, what suits me and what suits the client.
2. Getting off the merry-go-round
Work life just doesn’t stop. From early mornings to late night events, travel, conferences, sales meetings and internal processes. Life is a continual loop of driving, talking, meeting, note-taking and follow up. But in my mind life is more than this. Closely tied to being authentic, life should be meaningful and purposeful. Quite simply you should have time to enjoy your life before you die.
I have a very strong work ethic, I am an all or nothing kind of person so when I work I give everything. But do you know what, people will take everything, and then want some more. Working for myself is my commitment to putting 100% energy into the projects and commitments I have agreed but also then taking the time to stop the merry-go-around and reflect. I can have ying and yang, on and off, balance. Life.
3. Feeling bigger than your surroundings
I used to get this feeling all the time. When you are walking around an organisation and feel an almost dissociative sense that you don’t fit. That you are bigger or more expansive than your surroundings. It is almost like a silent call from inside that asks you to consider why you are where you are; saying you can do more and be more.
This regularly happened to me in meetings. I would zone out when people got into the minutiae or started unnecessarily moaning about problems. Life is bigger than then small-stuff. Problems can often be easily resolved, and things can move along at pace if people galvanise. But often people like to stay “small-fry” because it is safe. I am bigger-picture in my thinking and in my awareness of how organisations and businesses work, and it is good to see how much this is expanding without borders. Also, I haven’t had this feel at all since starting up my own business.
4. Having too much to give
This relates to the above in the fact that often you are in a job role where you have to focus on a finite selection of tasks or activities. Blessed or cursed, I have a wide range of skills which include, but are not limited to; apprenticeships, graphic design, web development, digital marketing, photography, videography, business development, event planning, networking, bid writing and executive level administration. How can you position yourself in a job role where you only use 15% of your skillset? Where others will think you are overstepping your boundaries if you try to influence in areas outside of your job description?
In your own business you can highlight key services you offer but then still utilise all your other skills, in either your own business set-up and promotion, or through value-added services. You don’t need to limit yourself and give only one stream. You can give it all. This is already happening in my new company. I have clients who use my services for what I have advertised on my website, but I then get to surprise them with all the add-ons from social media management to web development, videography and graphic design. I wouldn’t want to do these all the time, but I can be flexible to offer a wide range, and this often satisfies the client too.
5. Adding real value
The wonderful thing about being your own business is that there is nothing blocking the real interaction between you and the client. I don’t have any specific agenda. I can just:
- listen to the client
- consider how I can help then client
- help the client
It is really simple. Given the skillset above, I can also be entirely malleable and flexible to their needs. I also have a large network so can find solutions if I can’t cover it. But most importantly I don’t have to be promoting any agenda, I can just offer real, tangible value in whatever way they want it. Isn’t that satisfying?
I have spoken to a number of companies about collaboration since setting up, there is so much fluidity in business and I am finding it so enjoyable to explore. Going it alone has made me curious again, collaborative and creative. Yes, the money is a concern, but it seems to be figuring itself out, thus far anyway.
So, these are my main reasons for jumping off the employment plank into the unknown. For those interested I would say – life is too short not to try and really what is the worst that can happen? I have been self-employed for about a month and already have collaboration opportunities, a few of clients and have completed a number of projects. It is daunting not answering to anyone except yourself, but it is good to listen to what your own inner voice is saying and act on it.
Yes, it is brave to walk away from certain income, it is also probably pretty stupid. But it is also going to be so exciting to see what happens next!