My first year being self employed

Well, I made it! This month was my official first full year being self-employed under my business Studio Culture! YEEESSSSSS. It’s been a long road to get to this point but I wouldn’t have changed a thing and have no regrets!

I’ve been freelancing for years before hand but it was always something I did part time and after hours, generally till about 1am, then wake up at 6am to go to my full time job. It wasn’t easy and generally made me cranky, tired and not a happy chappy but I always enjoyed it, the extra money always helped as well! I thought my freelance days were over when I moved to London for 2 years as most of my clients were locally based, happy to say I still managed to get some client work while I was over there as well which was great! (I really could end each sentence with an exclamation mark, it’s all been so exciting haha)

When the decision to come home after 2 years in London was made I had a choice, get a job or go full time freelance, I was so conflicted because it wasn’t a perfect situation, I was in huge credit card and car loan debt still with repayments every month, but I thought to my self, it’s now or never, I’d rather lose my car now than buy a house in a few years and go freelance then with a chance of losing my house! (weird logic I know) so that was it, I took the leap of faith… Studio Culture was born.

I’m sure any new self employed person can state that the first few months is hard, I can honestly say, my first 6 months was some of the toughest months of my life, I’ve never been so sad, angry, mad, helpless, depressed, annoyed and anxious but every morning I woke up with a smile haha it’s hard to explain how you can be so down but so happy, it’s the joys of selfemploymentness (yes I made up that word). Going it alone isn’t something for the weak hearted, the toll it can take on you emotionally and mentally is amazing (in a bad way) but it’s your determination to make something of yourself that pushes you through those low points in the hope of success. Pain is temporary and so are friendly calls from debt collectors that call you so often that they start calling you buy your nickname (Fil) and not by the name in the system (Filippo) ahh those were the days haha.

I’m happy to have made it here 1 year later in a much better state than I was when I started, my debt is almost gone, work is coming in, my mood swings are getting better haha and I still wake up with a smile! 🙂

I guess to make this article helpful I should list a few tips on taking that first step.

Just do it: It’s cliché but it’s true, if I took a full time job in the hope of building my freelance work in the background until it was busy enough to quit the full time job, it would have taken me years if at all, the amount of energy needed to start a business is exhausting and I believe I wouldn’t have grown this much in a year if I had started part time plus the desperation of that first 6 months really forces you to make it work!

Sacrifice: This is a hard one, you have to sacrifice your life, your lifestyle, your reputation, your ego. One of the hardest sacrifices was to move back into my parents house to save money (oh and it was hard), this is a nice place to be, close to your Mum who can tell you daily to get a job! You can’t afford to go out anymore, you can’t afford to drive anywhere anymore and your girlfriend (or boyfriend) will hate you haha, looking back you can’t do anything but laugh.

Surround yourself: Surrounding yourself with the right people I think is key to keeping you sane and inspired. Be around people who are on the same path as you, who can help you, who you can talk to and bounce ideas off. Personally I have some great friends who are just that, inspiring people from all different aspects of passion and drive, I may not talk to them much but I facebook stalk them all the time to see where they are and that they’re up to (in a non creepy way… maybe a little)

Socialise: Being social helped me a lot to clear my mind and meet new people. Something a friend of mine started was a Mastermind group with a few friends once a month to talk about life and business, it’s so simple but so inspiring, I always arrive home with such motivation I generally end up working through the night. Another part of being social is joining local meetups (not dating ones, well you can if you want, I’ve seen some very weird meetups in Brisbane I can tell you that, Brisbane UFO meetup I’m talking about you!) but meetups in your field, get social and meet new people, I know I’ve managed to get a few new clients going to some of these meetups. Every little bit helps.

Share: Don’t be shy, tell everyone what you do! This was something difficult for me to wrap my head around when I first started, I still don’t really have it down when someone asks me, “what do you do?”, I’m like ummm I’m a freelance web designer but technically what I do isn’t called freelance so am I a self employed web designer or should I just say I’m a web designer and I work for my self but does that sound to arrogant or should I saw I’m an entrepreneur ahh I still need to figure this out haha! It was surprising to find out a lot of people I know didn’t know what I actually did for a living even before I started working for myself, so I was like WTF, I need to be more verbal about this! I learnt that whenever I was at a party or gathering and someone asked me “what’s been happening?” I now tell them exactly what has been happening!

Shuttup: It’s mean I know but it’s true, just shuttup! Stop making excuses and procrastinating because it’s not someone else’s fault, it’s your own fault. Being “self” employed means just that it’s on your”self”, there’s no co-worker to pass the work to there no boss to tell you what to do there is just you and if you don’t push yourself to get things done, then simply, things won’t get done. A tip that I’ve found helpful is to buy a whiteboard (cheapies on eBay) and write down a few things that need to be done today! Not tomorrow but today, don’t write too many just a handful maybe 3 or 4 points and tell yourself JUST DO IT (see what I did there, haha went back to point one). You’ll slowly get things done but you WILL get things done, as you get used to this system you can add more and more tasks each day!

Shimmy: I’m kidding haha they were all just starting with “S” which wasn’t planned and I’ve now run out of words that start with “S”. I didn’t want to go into the technical part of what I’ve learned over the past year, if you are interested I’m sure we can catch up and share tips and tricks but there are enough blog posts out there that will help you with the technicalities if starting your own business, this was more of my “sharing” that I was talking about.

Well I hope you enjoyed my write up, it turned out a lot longer than I had planned, I guess when you’re talking about yourself you can write forever hahaha, but there are a lot of people out there who have helped me get to this point and I’m really grateful to them all. If you’re thinking about starting up your own business and don’t really know a lot about it just drop me a line, I always enjoy talking to people who are in that headspace of wanting to work for yourself!

Hopefully speak to you next year!

Fil is Studio Culture’s Design and Development Director.

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