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January 2014
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How I became my own boss

I worked in pensions for nine years, in two different companies. I loved the people I worked with, but the work was often boring and monotonous.

When I returned to work after maternity leave, I was reliant on tax credits and housing benefit to be there, and I quickly realised that I had no chance of ever improving that situation. There was no chance of a pay rise or promotion, and any raise I did get would be quickly swallowed by the same amount being deducted from my benefit. I realised that if I stayed there, I would not be in a better position financially for quite some time. I was scared to do anything about it though; now that I had a child, I couldn’t afford to just quit my job and have no money.

I began doing some social media work for a friend’s company; I updated her Facebook and Twitter, took photos in her shop and posted them onto her social media accounts. I did this mostly on my days off, and found that actually I enjoyed it more than my “proper” job.

One day she asked me if I would consider leaving my job and doing what I did for her, for several local companies. She knew lots of people who were interested in using me for their social media. I declined, telling her that I couldn’t afford to do something so risky while my daughter was still so young; I needed to stay where I was had job security. The next week, we were all called into a meeting and told we were now in a 30-day consultation period for redundancy. I felt like this was a sign, and spent the entire 30 days praying they would pick me… It worked; they did!

That was at the beginning of October, and I’ve been my own boss since! I love meeting potential new clients and showing them how I can help them. What I do isn’t rocket science; quite often I’m just doing something they don’t have time to do themselves. I also do some book-keeping for my friend’s company, and I write. I love being my own boss; I love being able to choose what I do and when I do it. There’s no dress code, and nobody cares when I take my lunch break! It’s hard work, but it feels easier because I know that when I work hard it will benefit me and my daughter, not a faceless corporation.

At times it can be stressful, but I enjoy my work a lot more than I did before, and working from home makes my life a lot easier; I can put dinner in the oven to cook between sending emails, and put the washing on between Facebook updates. I can also work in the evenings, when my daughter is asleep meaning that I have a lot more flexibility in my working week. And when my daughter’s nursery has a “stay & play” event, I can move my work around so that I can join in; something I would never have had enough holiday allowance to do in a normal job. It can be tough, as I found out last month when my daughter was off nursery ill for a few days and I still had work to do; but on the whole, I’m enjoying being my own boss.

I think the best advice I could give someone considering this sort of move is to ensure you have a strong base of support around you. I’m very lucky to have several people I can call upon when I need advice, help or just a pep talk. You might be going it alone in business, but use all the support you can get!

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