This March marks my 24th birthday, International Women's Day and the first year of owning my business, HI Communications. It has been an amazing year and looking back there are a few things I've learnt along the way.
You don't need to work with people that you don't want to
In a corporate job you (usually) have a manager, co workers, customers, clients, some of the above, or all of the above, and you don't get a choice who you work with. When you are self employed, it might not seem like you have a choice if you want to make money, but you do.
If a client, or anyone you work with, makes you feel anxious when you receive an email from them, or you have taken on some more work and don't feel like you can give them enough time anymore it is okay to call it a day. Don't try and tough it out because you are worried about replacing the income, the money will follow and you will feel much better about who you work with going forward.
It's not lazy to rest
Just like most people, if I'm tired my work will suffer. I am lucky now that I can plan my day so if I need to rest I can, but there is a judgement that if you are resting you aren't working and that just isn't true. If you need to take a nap so that you can work better and longer in the afternoon, then do it. If you had a late night planning content and writing Huffington Post blogs (cough cough) then do it. Just don't let anyone else make you feel guilty for it.
Don't work for free unless you want to
Volunteering and working pro bono is great to help worthwhile causes and a good way to build experience, but I started a business to make money, so for the majority of my work I need to be paid. I can't remember how many times I have had emails which ask for a list of things and when I reply 'yes, but I will have to charge for that' I don't get a response. When I first started I had more time to do a few extra pieces of work FOC but now I confirm how much the work is going to cost before we start.
If a client leaves it's not always a bad thing
When my first client left it seemed like the end of the world. It was my first rejection of that kind and I felt like a failure. What did I do wrong? Was the content not good enough? Did I not get enough likes on a post? And worst of all, was there a typo in my writing? But it turned out they just wanted to put their budget into something different for awhile, and that's fine. I replaced them almost immediately and had the time to focus on the new client who is still working with me today!
Your age is going to keep coming up - get over it
This is a big one for me. My age comes up continuously. Sometimes it's a nice compliment about how looking young will be great in the future, or its a casual mention 'you won't remember that it was before you were born!' but sometimes it's just rude and implies that due to my age I couldn't possibly have a clue what I am doing. At first these comments really got to me but now most of them just get an eye roll.
Don't do what you don't want to do
Early morning networking meetings are a no from me. Meetings for the sake of meetings are also a no. I would rather not eat a greasy bacon sandwich at 6:30am with people I have never met or spend time in a meeting that I don't need to be in, so now I am trying really hard to JUST SAY NO!
By saying no to these things it means I have more time to do the things that I love, and hopefully do them well. I am most creative in the morning so if I skip that networking group I can work on blog posts for my clients. If I'm not in an unnecessary meeting I can spend some time updating my website or getting ahead of my social media schedule. Don't waste time on things that you don't want to do, just focus on what's important.
Working for yourself is awesome!
Starting a business is scary, frustrating, soul destroying, full of rejection and very very tiring, but I have freedom, I can work on amazing projects, decide my own hours, and the best part? I can drink as much tea as I like, the way I like it (with the tea bag left in btw.) It is the best thing I have ever done and I have never looked back. If you have an idea or want to make a change, just do it.
HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today
Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org