On our third birthday, a look back at some 'Top Tips for Self-Employment'

It is nearly time to celebrate our third birthday since Little Beach Boutique moved to the North Laine (Wuhoo! More on that soon...)
Before moving here in 2014, Little Beach Boutique was a restored fishermans arch on Brighton Beach (picture below with Dylan-dog).
I was there for a year, selling my glassware for the first ever time, having left my previous career as a support worker to follow a dream of making a living from my hobby.
Our former fishermans arch on Brighton Beach
It was an enormous change and I learnt a lot in that year! I found the adjustment to self-employment a really challenging shift and wrote a blog post reflecting on the 'learning curve'. 
Fast forward four more years and I think those 'top-ten tips' still ring truer than ever. I have copied it here for you to read. I would love it to be of use to other people thinking of a career change, and it would be great to hear what you would add to the list.
So here it is, my blog post from 2013 reflecting on that first year-I'd love to know what would be on your list...
Ten Lessons Learned from a Year of Self-Employment
It’s a year ago today that I left my relatively 9-5 job to become self-employed. Working for a women's charity during a double-dip recession, I seemed to be under a seemingly infinite redundancy notice and I decided to take the plunge into a scared new world.

The word ‘plunge’ seems about apt for what felt like a massive launch out of my comfort zone. For the first two months, when I said ‘self-employed’, I would use my index-fingers to illustrate apostrophes, as, perhaps, what I had really intended to convey was that I saw myself as ‘un-employed’.

My ‘self-employment’ involved making kiln-formed glass which I would sell in a converted fishermans arch on the beach. It had been a hobby-I sold a few pieces on Etsy-but I had decided to try to make a living from it, so this meant trying to make an income from my creativity.
I had to learn how to run a business (fast!) 

The first few months were really hard; customers were a lesser spotted species. It seemed I had no idea how isolating self-employment could be, and also how I needed to do much more than open my doors and wait for people to come in. With no 'team' to buffer or support me, I soon started to feel demoralised.
Ideas, incentive and money all started to dry up.

Most days I would feel total panic at having left a fairly well-paid, albeit unpredictable, job in a profession that gave me structure, identity – and, above all, a team of people around me, to go into one that depended on self-motivation and creativity when I seemed to be losing both.

Thankfully, something shifted a couple of months in. I got into a routine of sorts and started to let go of the self-doubt. Things did improve, people came into the shop, bought the things I was making, and I found some momentum, learned when to let go and adapted to having a working life that wasn’t built around the same structure as before. I started to accept that self-employment is always so unpredictable – some days would be really, really good, and some would be bad.

So, I thought I would write down a few lessons that I think helped this shift. I wanted to share what I learnt with anybody who might find/have found themselves in a similar situation – basically shrouded in self-doubt at having made the same decision!
In no particular order...

1 – Stay positive about what you do, even if others aren’t. Especially if others aren’t.

2 – Find a peer group so you’re not alone. There are so many forums and networking opportunities out there for people who work on their own, in any profession.

3 – Take the bad with the good. One bad day doesn’t have to generate a bad week.

4 – Be a fair boss to yourself – imagine how you would talk to an employee and question whether you would treat them in the same way that you can talk to yourself.

5 – Turn off the ten o’clock news. If you've had a bad day and are starting to question your decisions, absorbing further dread and doubt about our future from the news anchor isn't going to help!  

6 – Walk away temporarily. Don’t keep at something if it isn’t working. Take a break, do something else, find a distraction then come back to it.

7 – Absorb yourself in what you love. If your hobby has become your income, remember not to lose the joy it used to give you, look for new ways of finding it – or a new hobby!

8 – Talk. Don’t be a martyr to your own cause. Mostly, people want you to do well, so don’t be proud and put on a brave face. It’s amazing the ideas people can come up with when you start to talk.
9 – Accept yourself and your way of working. The same routine every day doesn’t suit everyone. Some days might be really productive, but motivation can often be hard to come by, so if you devour a box-set and a pack of macaroons in an afternoon, perhaps that is just part of your (ok, my) ‘process’!

10 – As mum would say, everything is a ‘learning curve’ and self-employment has been my steepest one yet. But the challenge also has massive rewards and a sense of achievement can be found in many places – even if that is just ‘sticking it out’ a while longer!
So that was 2013. A year later I moved to a bigger shop and we will soon be three! I still stand by these things and have much more to add...I would also love to hear your thoughts, so please do get in touch. 
Bye for now x

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