Wow – the end of June on Saturday marked the end of my first six months running Libro full time, with no safety net of an office job (but plenty of safety nets in terms of savings and experience!).
I thought I should mark this in some way, so I’ve changed the photo on my Facebook page to give myself some flowers, and I’m writing this to review the past six months. Has it gone as expected? Has anything surprised me? Am I actually doing OK? Am I happier? Am I enjoying myself? What have I learned?
Has it gone as expected?
In a word: no!
But in a good way. Each time I dropped a day at the office job in 2011 I experienced a small “slump” where the work coming in, and the profit made, dipped a little, just for a month. So I expected a big drop, a fallow period, especially as I had Jury Service to contend with at the beginning of January.
In fact, to tell you the truth, I was quite looking forward to a little rest. I’d actually finished my library job on 12 December and had worked solidly since then, gaining a new client and working over Christmas, including through a cold! But … it didn’t happen. I had obviously gathered a good number of regular customers, and adding a new one into the roster made a big difference. Also, some of my regulars increased the work they sent to me, as I had told them I was more available now, and having more hours available to work made me able to, well, do more.
Basically, the work ramped up right away, and I’ve been working pretty well full-time hours ever since!
Did anything surprise me?
I have to admit that I’m a little surprised that I’m sitting here, working full time on my business, keeping busy and earning well. I didn’t think I was going to FAIL as such, because I had planned everything out, and by the end of March I knew that I was earning enough to keep myself going. But I’m actually doing better than I’d expected, in terms of busy-ness and in terms of income.
I think I’ve surprised myself with my success – a few years ago, I could never have dreamed I’d be doing this! I’m not being smug about it and it has come with a LOT of hard work, and I should have had the faith in myself not to be surprised at this point …
Have I surprised anyone else, I wonder? Friends who’ve known me for years and newer business friends? I’d love to know!
Am I actually doing OK?
In terms of income, I’m happy to admit that I’m earning more than I have in any other job I’ve had (only a little more than the highest-paying one, but still). And now I’ve got through the double tax year and out the other side with my tax payments safely set aside, knowing what I owe and what I could take home, I am taking home enough to live on and to treat myself (and my patient friends who graciously accepted cheap / badly planned / cheap AND badly planned Christmas and Birthday presents for a few years). I’m not rolling in it, and I have turned into neither Richard Branson nor Mrs Thatcher, but I’m doing well enough to be happy with it.
In terms of clients, I have a fairly full roster of regular clients of various kinds, keeping my work varied, from editing non-fiction and fiction books to transcribing international conferences and journalists’ interviews to localising web and marketing text for all sorts of companies. My website and blog are getting more hits every month, and I do like looking at those stats!
Physical health wise, I’m eating well and getting to the gym a lot more, walking to meet Matthew after work, etc. Mental health wise I am a lot less stressed and I thrive on working on my own but having virtual colleagues via social media and business contacts and friends via various networking groups. I also have more flexibility and time to see friends and spend time with family.
Another important thing for me is helping people and giving back. I’ve been able to put together some great resources for students, Word users and other small businesses – OK, they bring people to my website, but I also love being able to help people out. My Saturday freelance/small business chats are going well, with a year’s worth done so we’re onto a combo of updates and new interviews. I love being able to showcase other small businesses and share our stories with people thinking about making the leap into self-employment or business ownership. And I’ve been able to help out other businesses and groups at the Social Media Surgeries, etc., too.
Am I happy / enjoying it?
Yes, I am! I’m so much happier and relaxed than I was even before I was working part time and running the business part time. This kind of lifestyle really suits me, and I genuinely enjoy the work. It’s great to be able to use my abilities and stretch myself, and I love knowing I have those regular clients out there and hearing how they are getting on and interacting with people all around the world, from China to Canada.
Specifically related to the full-time aspect of it, I love the fact that I do have more time for other projects, reading, Matthew and friends now. It might not look like it sometimes, but I am working fewer hours compared to when I was employed and self-employed at the same time. And I’ll admit that it’s nice to have a bit of money after a few years of hard saving and being very frugal indeed.
What have I learned?
The most important lessons I’ve learned are …
- Embrace new opportunities, whether that’s new kinds of client, new kinds of work, presenting at training days or whatever
- Don’t worry if it goes a bit quiet: it will pick up again and I can use the time to recharge my batteries
- I can do it – and I must trust in myself and my relationships with my clients that I can
- Eat a lunch made of more than one food group before 2pm and go outside every day and all will stay reasonably well and healthy
I’d just like to put out a big thank you to …
- My clients, regular and one-off
- Those clients who have been able to give me references and recommend me on to new clients (some of you can’t do this owing to NDAs, I know!)
- My readers of both my blogs – whether you comment or not
- The people who have kindly shared posts on Facebook, retweeted on Twitter or even featured me on their own websites and blogs
- My online friends who I’ve never met but are there for good times and bad
- My patient friends – it’s much better now, isn’t it!
- Matthew, for putting up with me, for embracing and celebrating someone who’s changed an awful lot since you met them 11 years ago, and for tech support, of course!
Here’s to the next six months … and onwards!