I've been going it alone for more than a year and a half now, a sole trader running my own small professional services consultancy business. It can be frustrating to feel like small fry, to have people going on about 'real jobs' and asking when I'm going get round to doing the things they expect a business owner to do.
Thing is, I'm not your typical entrepreneur and I don't have plans to do what they expect me to do.
I'm not scared of responsibility, I'm not scared of managing people, I don't work for myself because my 'real jobs' didn't work out. It's not like I don't want my business to succeed...
But I don't intend to employ staff because why would I take on additional liability in this economic climate when I can get a better result from partnering with other sole traders?
And I'm going to continue to work from home because I have the space, I find it easy enough to concentrate there, and it saves me travelling time which I can put to good use on other things.
I have thought all this stuff through. I know how much I earned last month (quarter/year/ever) and how much time I spent to do that. I know what's in my pipeline going forward. I've put in as many hours as I did when I worked for someone else, my take-home pay has been equivalent to a professional wage, my business has been nominated for an award, and I've done it all on my own terms.
Yes. I've done it on my own terms. And that's why I might not be doing what you expect me to be doing. It's not about the money (money money). It makes such a difference to me to be able to work in the sector of my choosing, on projects that matter to me, in areas that I enjoy.
I set up Ruthless Research to work with organisations that benefit of the community because this is something that I am passionate about. I love helping not-for-profits to make evidence-based decisions using market research techniques, and it is a pleasure to do this in organisations where the outcome of these decisions will make a real difference to real people in real need. I enjoy the challenge of designing robust methodologies within what are usually relatively small budgets and I refuse to compromise on quality to achieve this. I get immense satisfaction from the knowledge that not-for-profits could become more sustainable by using the insight that I can gather and provide. And the people are always lovely, because they care about what they do.
There's more in it for me too. I didn't start my own business for the lifestyle, but now I've got it I have to say it would be difficult to give it up. I'm an extreme night owl and being able to work the hours that suit me has made a huge difference to my wellbeing. I'm taking a business degree on the side and it doesn't feel like a stress to squeeze it all in. I like watching TV at lunchtime, I like taking an hour or two out of the office to swim or look round the shops or get my hair cut if it is convenient. I still put the time in and I always get the job done on schedule, so where's the harm?
I may be doing it small, but I'm doing it lifestyle and I'm doing it properly.
That's what makes me a lifestyle entrepreneur.
Follow Ruth Stevenson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RuthRuthless