One thing about being a business owner is that you have to understand a hell of a lot more about tax than you’d like to. Sanlam iTrade has published a handy 2016 Tax Guide on their blog. Have a read through and make sure you’re prepared!
It is such a glamorous idea, working for yourself – waking up late, working in your PJs, jetting off wherever you want without taking leave and just rolling in the cash in the process. Right? Right. Except that is not what it is. There is a misconception of how this whole ‘Be your own Boss’ thing works and it’s almost like people think that because you’re not chained to a desk and trying to stay out of office politics that affect your career, you’ve got it easy.
I made the great escape from corporate and started out on my own and have been at it for nearly 3 years already. I’ve often been asked by friends how to do it and if they should give it a go and I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, so that you all know.
South Africa is rife with entrepreneurship and my brother once told me that if you’ve got something to sell/provide and you’re confident that there are enough people that will pay you for it, then you can start your own business. This is true, but there are very unique obstacles to working for yourself that you have to be prepared to accept and be strong enough to deal with, else you should just stay in that little corporate bubble and count your blessings because if you fall, you fall pretty hard and take an emotional beating along the way.
I love my current setup and the way that I work, I love my clients and how I handle them, but it is not an easy game and here’s the cold hard truth as to why.
You need money to start
Even if you’re not starting a business that requires a capital outlay, you will need money to live while you get things up and running and find people who want to give you their money. Gather this up beforehand so that you don’t have to stress about covering your expenses while you’re starting to find your feet. Have the finances covered and then you can focus on what you need to do to start making some regular money.
Clients don’t just fall into your lap
Unless you are incredibly well connected (with no restraint of trade) and are the only provider of air to humans, this is going to be a really difficult step. Just because you’re good at something or have something to offer doesn’t mean that this will attract clients through wind pollination. You will have to get out there, go to stupid networking events, cold-call, phone in favours, research and schmooz. And you’re going to have to do it over and over again until you are in a position where you’re getting enough money in to be comfortable. You will be shot down and messed around and just take it in your stride.
Once you’ve done it, you’re well on your way. It’s far more rewarding to have done this on your own than to have relied on corporate structures to give you what you need.
Working in pyjamas is overrated
There will come a time when you wake up one day and head on over to your desk and realise that if you wear another pair of yoga pants in your life you’re going to die lonely and suffocated by all your cats.
There’s nothing better than snuggling up under a blankie with your laptop in the middle of winter though, no self-respecting humans should be out in that weather.
It can be isolating
When you’re no longer in an office full of people all day every day, you’re suddenly faced with your own self, all the time. I am well aware that I am awesome, but nobody else is going to tell me that. You also won’t be invited to Johnny from Accounts’ braai and find yourself trying to find an excuse not to go. Bouncing ideas can be tricky and there’s no such thing as a year-end function with free champagne.
Self-discipline is a real thing
You’ve got to be the kind of person that is self-motivated, self-disciplined and have skin as thick as a rhino, naturally. You’ve got nobody to pat you on the back when you’ve done a good job and also nobody to kak you out if you’ve done a bad one. It’s all you, babe. You’ve got to focus and not play with the neighbour’s cat instead or go ride horses on the beach because it seems more fun (I really have done these things, it’s no joke).
You don’t get a holiday
You can GO on holiday, for sure, but your work goes with you. You’ll quickly learn how to multi-task so that your work fits in with whatever you’re doing and doesn’t make too much of a fuss on your holiday, but you’ll never really be away from it unless you have someone you trust to cover for you while you’re gone (this is rare to find and when you do, hold on damn tight).
You need emergency funds, all the time
Pack away some savings and keep it replenished. There will be times when your clients pay you late, or pay you at the last minute with a cheque that only clears in a week, just for fun. You’ll need emergency funds to cover your important expenses while you wait for them to get their shit together.
You are everything
You are everything to your business. You need to understand marketing and sales, tax (vomit) and finances, business development, IT, admin, project management, client relationship management, data analysis and whatever else is thrown your way. Also remember to be a normal human being too and have a social life and some fun.
Opportunities are endless
All that being said, if you can jump over all those hurdles on a daily basis and enjoy the challenges of each new day, you will find a freedom that you won’t get anywhere else. (I can neither confirm nor deny having worked while lying on the beach). Opportunities really are endless and you can shape things however you see fit. That’s worth any amount of hard work, I tell you.
Two things in life that I love: creative entrepreneurship and tea. So it was no surprise that I fell in love with Lady Bonin’s Tea at first sight (sip). Lady Bonin herself (Jess Bonin) is one of the most honest and down-to-earth people I have ever met and her personality just oozes love for her tea, love for others and love for herself.
Her story is so unique and so real. She gave up a job that no longer satisfied her and started selling tea out of a 1957 caravan. She now owns a successful and thriving business which boasts the infamous mobile tea caravan, a gorgeous tea parlour in Woodstock and a growing distribution channel. Her story is such an inspiration to all of us entrepreneurs. You know those days when you think you’re just potting along and making it up as you go? It’s great to be reminded of what a person is capable of and how visions can bloom with hard work, dedication and love for what you do.
Her Earl Grey in bed in the morning makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, her “Bliss” tea in the afternoon makes me happy and her chamomile in the evening takes me to another place. I can’t wait to stock up on more and more along the way.
Lady Bonin tea makes me want to love more.
Here is my current situation:
It’s 9pm and I’ve moved from my desk to my couch, laptop still attached. The TV is on in the background and I still have a good few hours of work to do. I have no wine. I’ve had a really long day and I’m tired. My To-Do list seems to have fertiliser in its’ shoes.
But you know what? I’ve never been happier.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had this feeling of pure creativity energy. Anything is possible and there is no string on my kite.
I don’t care that I don’t have my old fat corporate salary anymore. I don’t care that I live from month to month. I don’t care that my financial stability has become more of a laugh than a certainty. Laughing is good for the soul.
Anything is possible and the world is still my oyster. I will make what I want out of it. I am no longer tied down by the corporate ball and chain. My clients are amazing. Big potential opportunities loom so close I can smell it. I help people every day. I gym outside of peak hours. I sleep late on a Monday morning because I can.
I have never been happier with a life decision.
If you are not happy in your job, change it!
It’s not worth your soul. Get it back.
Today I learnt about real life. For 27 years I thought I was there, but I was somewhere else…somewhere easier and breezier. Somewhere with a pretty mask to cover the underlying struggle for something more, something better, something more meaningful. Well, after all this time I have found that something that I didn’t even know that I was looking for. I found my freedom and my untainted happiness. And it’s freaking scary!
You’re sitting there thinking “I’m not sure what this woman is on about, but sounds vaguely familiar”, aren’t you?
I remember sitting in meetings in my previous soul-destroying corporate job and doodling a sketch of a flower, always the same sketch, and imagining that I was somewhere else, doing something else that is meaningful to me.
Well now I am somewhere else, doing something else that is meaningful to me.
Meet ‘Social Ideas’:
I don’t want this to be a business punt on my blog, but rather a reflection on the risk I’m taking and reminding myself why I’m doing it. It is very, very real. Everything is a lot more difficult when you don’t have an IT department to fix something for you, or Accounts to advise you on anything, or even a printer. I’ve been learning a lot since I started working for myself – far more than the permanent corporate lifestyle could ever give me.
I know that I have a passion and I know that this passion can help others, so I do believe that I can make this work.
My message to you, though, is:
Life’s too short for ‘just okay’.
There is no reason to be miserable 5 days out of 7 every week. Find your passion and take that risk!
Oh yes, and follow Social Ideas on Twitter and Facebook, if that’s what you’re into 🙂 Please also keep me in mind when anyone mentions social media work – it will be greatly appreciated (businesses or individuals – I’m here to help and advise) – I couldn’t resist 😉