Just a few things I've learned along the way...
Take one recession, one 21-year-old, numerous bills and no job – what do you get?
Well, you get the ‘me’ back in September 2009. I was jobless, penniless and verging on homeless – right in the middle of the biggest recession of my lifetime. It wasn’t a nice place to be. In fact; I wouldn’t wish that period of my life on my worst enemy.
Anyway, put your violins away, I’m ok now.
In the two weeks after the end my previous job contract, I must have applied for over 100 jobs. Many replied saying that the position had been dropped due to lack of funds, many asked if I was willing to take the role part-time and a couple of the companies went under before I could even get an interview.
So there I was; sat in the office of my best friend, whining, moaning, bitching and complaining that I had no money. Over what must have been our tenth coffee, he suggested I try being self-employed.
I laughed it off; “arf arf, I hate me, I couldn’t employ me…” etc.
However, by midnight that evening, I was on the phone to my Mum asking if she thought it was a good idea. She agreed that I could move back home and that it was my only option. After all, the world doesn’t owe me a living: if there were no jobs around, I would have to make my own.
I won’t lie. The first few months were absolutely awful. The number of times I got so close to clicking “apply now”, on the most horrendous job-listings at £3 p/h, were impossible to count.
In fact, it’s not exactly champagne and flash cars now, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far. Especially as I live in Sheffield – with its 10-PR-companies-per-square-mile policy. Regardless, here I am, I’m 22 and I run a business. I don’t have a Range Rover yet but I do have pride, a fantastic network of people and I have business cards with my name on and EVERYTHING.
So, what have I learnt as a business owner?
Many things, actually.
In the words of Baz Lurhman: I will dispense this advice now.
1. You won’t earn £30,000 a year straight away. You’ll be lucky to earn £3000.
2. Get out there and meet people. Being self-employed is rid…hold on.
3. Being self-employed is ridiculously lonely.
4. Networking works. Oh, ironic that’s number 4? Out of all the groups I have been to - 4Networking is the one that really truly works. You should join – it changed everything.
5. Working in your pyjamas does not encourage you to work hard – get up, have a shower and get dressed. Hell, put some lippy on – you’ll get in ‘the zone’ then and be able to work.
6. Get a roller banner. Even if you only use it in your office – it will inspire you and is a constant reminder of what you’ve achieved.
7. Invest in a good accountant. My accountant is amazing. I owe her so much, she’s a true gem.
8. Get some good friends around you – they’ll act as your field sales reps.
9. Do an excellent job for clients – they’re even better sales reps.
10. Don’t be afraid of working with your friends. 2 or 3 of my clients are my friends – I wouldn’t have it any other way. Plus, if they don’t pay you – you know where they live.
I’d also suggest getting to know the business people who are in similar fields to you. I am a partner of marketing companies, virtual assistants and even other PR agencies. Don’t tread on eachother’s toes – work together to provide the best service possible!
Anyway, get on with your work now. That’s your skiving over.