Or, the Joy (?!) and Frustration of Being Self Employed. Or better yet, why did I decide to do this anyway??
I’ve now managed to more or less stagger my way to the end of my first 18 months of being self employed, and it has been a massive learning curve! Many of those who knew me when I first started my degree course five years ago would say that I am a totally different woman to the one who first entered university with a mixture of utter terror and trepidation at the start of year one – indeed, the tutors weren’t even sure I’d get to the end of the course at one point! I’ve learned a huge amount about the best (and worst) things to remember when you’re trying to build a business – some are applicable particularly to us mad herbalists, and others I suspect will probably apply across the board. Being self employed stirred up a lot of issues from the bottom of my psyche, some of which I have put back to bed for a while, others still require a lot of work.
For a start off, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that taking time for yourself is an absolute must. Seriously. Trying to work every single day without a day off is a recipe for disaster – as I found out after about a month this summer of non stop markets, clinic and general running around! The next important thing I found out is that you have to expect to work bloody hard – 12 to 14 hour days, 6 and sometimes 7 days a week. I haven’t yet found a way to do 8 days a week, but I’m working on it!
I think that for me, the most important lessons I’ve learned certainly revolve around creativity. I’ve realised I have the bad habit of choking off my own creative impulses and trying to do what I think everyone will approve of – a huge mistake! I often go for a walk and half write an article while I am wandering around, then get back and get distracted by mundane stuff, such as a book, move, face book, a myriad other things. The same thing happens when I have ideas for a drawing, poem, outfit, new products for the shop, articles to write for magazines… the list is endless! My inner critic pops up its ugly head and taps me on the shoulder with that pleasant smile that usually covers something nasty and cutting, generally along the lines of ‘don’t be ridiculous, if you say / do / write / think that, everyone will think you’re stupid and won’t take you seriously! Why don’t you go and do x, y or z instead?’ Actually, inner critic, I’ve got news for you – the times when I really allow my inner creativity free rein are usually the times when I produce my best, most appreciated work, so you can sod off, thanks!
Having a clear vision of what I wanted from my company and where I wanted it to go was probably the most important thing I could have done. If you don’t know where you want to go with things, you’ll be swayed by the advice of everyone who comes your way – and don’t get me wrong, some of it is damned good advice, but ultimately you have to decide for yourself what you want and what image you want your company to have. You also have to not be afraid to make your own mistakes and learn from them – and I’ve learned that one the hard way as well!
For the next 18 months of self employment, I am resolved to continue to approach my business with flare and enthusiasm. I also need to make damned sure I plan in time off. If I don’t refuel myself on a spiritual level, I’ll burn out. I’m also going to give my inner censor a good kicking – so, over the next few months, expect much corvid gossiping, intuitive ramblings, poetry, stories, musings on plants, seed gathering and sowing, root unearthing and re-earthing, folklore, fairy tales and a multitude of other things. Much of my writing will still be in its usual light hearted tone, but sometimes I feel the need to open my heart and soul and write from there, letting my head take more of a back seat. Plants mean everything to me, and trying to trap my writing into one particular way feels totally wrong to me!
On that topic – the next blog post will be about the lovely Burdock plant! 😀