Work for yourself, they said...

For anyone who might think working for yourself is easy and for anyone who might think people who work for themselves are confident and self-assured all the time.

It’s not and we’re not.

Deciding to start my own business and to work for myself was a decision I fell into. I was unhappy at a job that was meant to be my dream; it was quickly crushing my confidence and my spirit, and I knew I needed to get out. I waited as long as I could until it almost wasn’t my choice anymore, and then I left with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and no income to keep me going...but let’s save that weird, exciting, and terrifying period of my life for another post...

Since the day I launched EVJ Creative, I have worked with many different people and businesses across a wide range of industries. Every one of them has taught me something and slowly I’m learning the work I want to do, the people I want to work with, and the way I want to build my business.

It takes mountains and mountains of courage and will to put yourself out there, to offer up your skill set, and to ask people to support you. What’s even harder is trying to learn and accept your worth, and making sure you own it! What’s the value of your skill? What’s the value of your time? What’s the value of your support? What’s the value of your business? These questions sound easy enough, if you break it down and give things a monetary value, it’s that simple, right? Wrong. The truth is, I spend a lot of my time working for free; I spend time helping, answering emails, answering calls, researching solutions, driving to meetings, chatting about strategy, booking resources, and investing in relationships because when it comes down to it, caring and helping is in my nature. A lot of my time is not billable, and when it is or when it could be, a lot of the time I don’t charge my full rate because I am still struggling to know my worth. And that’s not just on me, that’s on everyone I work with too.

Sometimes people expect work for free, sometimes people question your billing, sometimes people don’t pay on time, sometimes people expect you to be available at the drop of a hat, sometimes people add and expect work that’s outside of the agreed scope, sometimes people cancel work without notice, and sometimes people make you jump through hoops before not getting back to you anyway. All of this contributes to my feelings of self-worth; every time I have to chase money from people or justify charging, I am subconsciously piling up evidence to support the idea that my work isn’t worth paying for.

I’m working hard to overcome this. I’m working on building avenues through my business that will alleviate some of that pressure and reliance on other people. But it’s hard.

Every single day I am winging it, at least once a week I am panicking about how I’m going to support myself, and at least once a week I am feeling excited and motivated about the potential ahead of me; it’s an emotional rollercoaster.

There’s a big part of me that thinks I’m crazy for doing this. I have no partner and I live on my own so if I don’t earn any money, there is no money - what a ridiculous risk!? Why not just get a normal job, a normal salary, and some security?! But then I think of how suffocated I was working full time and how much I love the flexibility and control I have working for myself and I remember that I am proud of the life I’m building and that, deep down, I do believe that it will work out.

I’ve been going for twenty months, I’m not going to give up now! (...and if you're reading this and finding yourself in a similar boat, neither should you!)

Em xx

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