Owner of Develop-meant Training Consultants, ADRIAN PITT, ponders those phrases he often hears that come part and parcel of being self-employed: "It's a roller-coaster ride", "A huge learning curve" and he considers what happens when that roller-coaster hits a downward spiral...
So, remember the first week of self-employment? Sat staring at the walls thinking: "My God! Those windows need cleaning!" Then, you pluck up the courage to enter the maze. Oh yes, that "maze of confusion and self doubt". You need to sort out your Tax, National Insurance, Professional Indemnity, a business bank account - but heck, which bank? An accountant, business cards. Do I need a website? What's this Social Media malarky all about? Shall I ring Business Link? Am I going to sound daft? What support is out there? Marketing?! Marketing?! I couldn't market myself out of a paper bag! Tweet! Tweet!
Networking! What?! I have to SPEAK to people?! Stand up for sixty seconds and tell a room full of strangers what I do?!?! Not even I'M sure yet QUITE what I do!
Somehow, slowly but surely, you tick off all of the above (even if the networking bit means you're jammed in a corner with "Mr Halitosis" thrusting his fold-out business card at you with an insincere grin! "I'm thinking 3D cards next," he says, you smile sweetly as you untagle the contents of your bacon bap from around your dentures!).
THEN, the work starts coming in...AND...you're actually doing "it". You're actually self-employed! You ride the wave of success, you forget to put your 25% aside for the taxperson (equal opps and all that, it doesn't have to be a man!) you treat yourself to the odd Asda "Extra Special" free-range corn-fed chicken supreme filled with sun-blushed Italian cherry tomatoes, wrapped in oak-smoked Sicilian parma ham...
It all goes quiet.
Oh no! You've hit what we in the trade call a "quiet period", "a bit of a blip", "a time for reflection", "an opportunity to review your Business Plan that's been sat in a drawer for the last 12 months". Ahem, yeah right!
Have you lost your way? Me too! So, who or what is out there to help us? It's a tad unnerving when you hear that Business Link has reached the end of it's roller coaster ride. Last stop. Everybody off! Are you back to staring at four walls? Do those windows need cleaning again?!
So, can you be proactive? Here in Shropshire, we're calling out to folk who are in EXACTLY the same position. We've started a forum, buzzing full of energy and run by facilitators who know where it's at. There's a meeting in August for those small business folk who've made their own way up until now, but STILL need some advice and guidance.
It's not shameful to admit: "I NEED HELP!"
Can you set up something similar where YOU live?
Networking? Let's shake it up a bit!