Making the switch to self-employment

By Phil Marsland

Moving from a successful career in house to creating and running my own business was a huge step. Practically and psychologically.

Practically I needed sound advice and I was fortunate to have a business mentor, who pointed me toward a trusted accountant. He helped me with the decision to either be a sole trader or to establish a limited business - I chose the latter. He also provided advice on tax, expenses, along with loans, Directors wages, creating shareholders and paying dividends. Whilst the website is good to give you a heads up on such matters, making decisions regarding your circumstances and ambitions, for me, required professional advice. I'm still working on spreadsheets for my accounts though, and I know I need to move on from this. And this leads me to an associated point - don't underestimate the admin!  Whilst in house I had people taking care of this for me, when self employed I have to do everything from printing, booking train tickets and hotel rooms, to filing! It all needs doing and at the current stage of evolution of my business, its me that's got to do it.

I can't leave this section without mentioning technology - spend some money is my advice. For over a year I struggled with a cast off laptop, poor WIFI and an ageing phone. Not only does up to date technology convey the right impression to your clients, it make you far more efficient too. I've tended to do things myself from accounts to branding, business cards and creating websites. I'm happy with most of this, and it will evolve and change. You may want to get help though.

A final practical point in summary, is that things change. You need to keep reviewing what you're doing, stay on top of your accounts and cash flow, and really hear all the feedback you get from clients and from rejections. It all matters, and it all has the potential to help drive you forward.

Psychologically, its about support networks, mindset and resilience. I needed (and continue to need), all of these. I became involved in networking professionally some 3 years previously and the people who I connected with provided great encouragement, and just the right words at the right moments. I am forever grateful.

Also my mindset had to evolve, really focussing on my purpose, and positioning - and this of course flows into your services, products and price points. I don’t know if I make all this sound easy - but I can assure you that it isn’t!  Not having the support networks and just daily people contacts of routine work in house was a shock. I still miss the people I worked with, but I've moved on. I have an in flow attitude to my work, flexing and adapting regardless of what day or time it is. And I have time for myself, for exercise, house work! and going to gigs, and for those that matter most. In reality I've created the life style that I wanted, and have a huge sense of achievement in creating and running my own business, and I've got the t-shirt and mug to prove it.

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