Advice

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Opinions - Who is the boss of you? The woes and pros of self-employment.

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by Jessica Hazel


*I graduated from university five years ago and have spent two and a half of these being employed by others, and the last two and a half working for myself.

Although I realise I am incredibly fortunate to have found a way to escape the 9-5 (something which never really suited me), there are days when I yearn to feel that "Friday feeling" again, or to be able to kick back at home without the freelance guilt creeping up on me in the middle of Come Dine With Me.

 

The first year of going-at-it-alone was as many people find, a rollercoaster of ups and downs, mistakes and misunderstandings but I worked my fingers to the bone, spurred on by my ever precarious overdraft limit and the will to eat something other than a pack of 4 for £1 noodles for dinner. Thankfully my hardwork paid off and I have managed to get myself to a comfortable place where I know roughly how much money is coming in and that for now, it's enough.

Once you are over the critical first year it's a personal choice whether you carry on going at it like a madman, sticking religiously to your 5-year business plan and pushing things forward 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This approach comes at a price sacrificing 90% of your brain space to work-related issues, missing out on all manner of social occasions, holidays, weekends away and weddings and at worst letting greed become the governing force in your life which unfortunately I have witnessed happen to a number of my fellow self-employed acquaintances who never seem to be quite satisfied. Is this the mark of ambition and drive or is it actually just setting yourself free from having a boss in order to enslave yourself to yourself?

The other option, which I have been trying to adopt of late, is just to chill out a bit, enjoy the freedom of working for yourself and remember to still have fun, see friends and family and to remember that no one's dying wish is that they spent more time in the office. On Thursday night I had a rather boozy evening which carried on until 6am. In the morning, after 2 hours sleep I thought to myself that I could either get up and drag myself through the day in a state of exhaustion or I could go back to bed, go out for breakfast, have a little walk and then just get to work late. What's the worst that would happen? Ok so I lost out on a wee bit of money and I had a bit of a battle with my conscience throughout the day but what I have come to realise of late is that there is no point in being free of a boss if you are just going to make your own life hard.

On the flip-side, a few too many nights like that will make everything start to slide and before I know it I might be back on the 25p noodles again. It's really all about balance and being kind to yourself and self-disciplined in equal measure. The truth is that running your own business will mean that there is always work to be done even if you hammer it 24/7.

It would be nice to hear your thoughts on this issue if you too, struggle with the same things as me. I think that in the end it comes down to which is more important to you, money or freedom? I know which one I choose each and every time.

 

Jessica Hazel is a writer, blogger and director of Smoking Gun Vintage.

 

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