Becoming Self-Employed early this year 2018, after the maternity leave of having my second child in June 2017, a daughter I named Francesca, was, shall we say, not exactly planned…. I have always had an inner feeling – almost like an itch I couldn’t scratch, and those closest to me were aware of this ambition, that I would one day work for myself. Perhaps there is no right time, but I certainly had not anticipated self-employment at this stage of my life and with our children being so small- my son Sebastian 4 and my daughter Francesca not even 1. It seemed that fate had intervened, which I cannot expand on at the present time, and I decided to go it alone- big gulp.
My good friend Paul Jones – also self-employed business owner as an independent financial advisor – ‘Integral Financial Planning,’ reminded me that I would need to give up the “drug of the salary,” which I did not entirely realise the magnitude of until I was faced with mortgage payments, childcare costs, car running costs to name a few that frankly, I was going to have to cover every month without the “drug of the salary.” Most people plan for a while before becoming self-employed. For me and my family I had not done this and we even had to cancel a long and lovingly planned extension that I had my heart set on. Tears followed down the phone to our chosen builder John Cannon who we hope to still use in the future. John was so concerned about me that he visited me at home to make sure I was ok- bless him. I had not even considered that by becoming self-employed you are classed as a second class citizen, not worthy of borrowing money or taking money out of your property for at least two years of being self-employed. However, on the flip side, I had made the decision to go for it and it was now “sink or swim” as my fiancé Stuart kept reminding me- never one to mince his words.
I was listening to the radio when I first decided to become self-employed and statistically self-employed people are apparently happier than those employed and this gave me hope. At the time of setting up my business, I was suffering from an acute flare up of my chronic health condition, Ulcerative Colitis, that I have had since the age of 18, in addition, to clinical depression and anxiety. This made it even tougher to set my business up and I felt as though I was wading through treacle on a daily basis. Thankfully, I have extraordinary supportive parents, family and friends who got me through it as well as excellent medical care at the Queens Medical Centre. I also found an inner strength and determination to continue.
What I had not been prepared for was the support I received from people I already knew who were self-employed and had also set up their own businesses. Many of these people like me had decided to go it alone after having an “experience” with their previous employers. These people were messaging and ringing me with words of encouragement and excitement at the prospect of me going it alone, when I was absolutely terrified. I had a wobble quite early in the process of self-employment, when I thought I would like the stability of being employed again and this may help me feel better. Being employed was all I had ever known and for those who know me well- will be aware, I’m rubbish with change. However, having had a taste for self-employment and working around my life, health and the children, the very prospect of doing a near enough full time 9am-5pm job with an hour for lunch felt restrictive, almost prison like and a step back for me after being my own boss.
My confidence has grown so much since setting up Ella Millett Legal and I am proud of what I have achieved in a relatively short space of time, especially when I was so poorly and with the two little ones. I am now able to get involved in things such as charity work that I have wanted to do for years but have been unable to, due to not having any extra time aside from being in the employed “hamsters wheel” of a law firm. Self-employment is not for the faint hearted and is not for everyone or everyone would be doing it. I constantly have to think about where my business will come from and will I have enough money to meet all my outgoings. I also have a fear of failure, of work drying up and having to get… wait for it…………an employed job.
For now I will continue down this path and I’m excited as to where this will lead. I have more room in my mind for other things such as hobbies I want to try and learn and possible new business ventures. I will also be doing more exercise to have me time when my son is settled in school with two other ladies who are also self-employed.
If anyone is thinking of setting up a business or going it alone and want to chat about this with me then please contact me. As I have learnt in the last six months us self-employed folk are like “birds of a feather and like to stick together.”