5 Things I’ve Learnt Since Starting my own Business


I officially registered as ‘self-employed’ in December 2014, so this post might be a little premature. However, I feel that I have learnt so much in the past 8 months that I just couldn’t keep it to myself. I do not claim to be a business/entrepreneur/self-employed guru…(that would be awesome!) but I feel that these 5 things have really stood out since I started my journey as a self-employed Graphic Designer. So here goes….

1. I had to really re-evaluate my relationship with money.

It took me at least 3 months to get used to not getting paid my ‘wage’ at the end of the month. I’d hear people saying, ‘It’s almost pay day!’ or ‘I just got paid let’s go out’…all they would receive from me was a blank stare with a hint (bucket load) of jealousy. Anyone starting out knows how tight things can be. However, when I got paid for a job I thought happy days! Now I can buy loads of things for my business and myself. I quickly realised how fast money can disappear when you don’t have a steady income coming in and the deep fear that sets in when you have very little money left with no jobs prospects. I’m very thankful now things have levelled out, I have finally realised the importance of **saving** some of the money I earn, a very painful necessity.

2. Not everyone will get it…don’t take it personally!

I have told a lot of people that I am self-employed, not only because it’s a good way of marketing myself but because, ‘Where are you working now?’ generally comes up in most small talk conversations. Nonetheless, I still get people telling me about full/part-time positions that they see advertised, or when I tell them I’m self employed they look slightly confused and sad for me with the response ‘I’ll keep my eyes open for ya!’. Originally I took a little offence to this but I have realised that they are genuinely trying to help me out and I should try to be a little bit firmer about how happy I am doing what I’m doing. I’m pretty sure some of my older relatives don’t even know what ‘Graphic Design’ is, so it’s no surprise they don't really understand…it’s good to take a step back and not take it all so personally! 

3. I have to really put myself out there.

I’m still working on this one. As an introvert (INTJ Myers Briggs personality type http://www.16personalities.com) I find it difficult to talk to someone without pitching but still letting them know (subtly) what I do and how I can help them. Networking isn’t really my forte, especially in a cold room on a Monday morning with stale biscuits and seats set in a circle for everyone to stand up and say something about themselves and their business in 30 seconds (yes, I’ve been there). Recently I have been taking part in an weekly online networking event on twitter. Most Thursday nights from 9pm-10pm @BelfastHourNI has my full attention. #Belfashour is a hashtag set up to help businesses from all over NI promote each other and connect. I can sit with a cup of tea in my slippers and connect with so many businesses all over NI, we tweet #Belfasthour and have conversations with each other, like posts, retweet and at the end of it all you have a few new followers and made some great new connections, meaning more people know who you are and what you do - that's the idea right? Any business owner big or small should try it out.

4. Diet and exercise is so important for productivity!

Before I made the choice to become self-employed, I loved going out. every. weekend. I was always up for the craic and nothing would of stopped me. When you are in control of your day it takes a lot of discipline to stay focused and creative. I noticed if I had a late night out at the weekend, it was taking me 2/3 days to feel like my brain could properly function. I realised I couldn't afford to waste any of my days, and as I am doing something I absolutely love I decided to really cut back on my nights out and drinking (To all my friends out there…I promise I’m still good craic!). I also started seeing a personal trainer (Anthony McNally PT) for 10 weeks, I noticed my energy levels were very low and sitting on my computer all day was piling on the pounds. After the 10 weeks my energy levels have drastically increased and I now have a great exercise regime thanks to Anthony’s help.

5. Collaboration is key. 

Without being surrounded by such creative and supportive friends I don’t know if I would be in this position today. Especially when they are on the same journey as I am! It’s great to be able to offer a client a range of creative options knowing that I have a circle of friends with such an array of talents. Not only is it great to work with them but being able to chat about problems, stresses and ups and downs makes an indescribable impact on my wellbeing and has an extremely positive effect on my business. 

I mainly collaborate with @ESphotographs www.emmastewartphotography.com and @JonnyJuke

Thanks for reading folks!