How real life affects business when you’re self employed

Okay, it’s time to come clean. I have been blogging here since 2008 and you’ve heard about everything business-related and lots of personal stuff, too…from moving to Ireland and running the marathon to adopting my dog. All of these things make me the business-person I am, and that’s why I’ve shared them along the way.

I’ve always been transparent about my life and my business, until a year ago. I’ve been keeping something from you because I wasn’t ready to mention this yet, but I am now.

About a year ago, my marriage ended. Shortly after that, I sold the house where my home office was, along with the driveway and garden I had written un-newsletters about.

I was emotional and uprooted, but I was determined to not let these changes affect my business.

And I did a pretty decent job.

I’m still on track for my yearly goal and although there were definitely some wobbly moments, I kept the wheels on the car.

The reason I’m sharing is because life happens. And sometimes it’s freaking hard to deal with. And as a self-employed person, I know my life and business intermingle a lot more now than when I worked in a corporate office and took home steady paychecks.

And when life happens, it can surprise us. And it can throw our work-life balance into a tizzy. I know a lot of you have been there.

Here are some questions that arose when my life circumstances changed, and what I’ve figured out so far:

  • How can I keep my emotions from sabotaging my work? Some days I cried from 8-10 am and worked from 10-5. I told myself: You can be upset for 20 more minutes…then get it together! Some projects took me longer because I was less focused. So I tried to give myself the extra time I needed and padded my deadlines. Sometimes that worked; other times, things weren’t ready when I had planned. I made sure to keep the communication lines open with my clients and partners and I did my best. Oh, and I tried to not beat myself up too much for being an imperfect human business-person. 
  • Can I fully support myself on an unsteady income? The typical “unsteady” income of being self employed hadn’t been a problem before. I was in a relationship with someone who took home a steady paycheck. So I knew the mortgage would be covered even if I had a super slow month. Now it’s different. There’s no one but me to pay the (new) mortgage so I have to change up a few things and be more diligent about marketing. It has been tempting to take all projects I can get so I can make lots of money, but then I remember that staying focused is the smartest thing to do. For me that means doing what I'm best at: 1) Writing regular blog posts/newsletters for clients — they add more consistency to my income. 2) Website projects, where I help people figure out their business and brand voice. So hell yes, of course I can fully support myself!
  • Should I tell clients and colleagues? I did tell most of my colleagues and partners because we have always been transparent with one another about money, work-life balance, achievements and challenges. For the most part, I didn’t tell clients. I mentioned it to a few ongoing ones when I changed my address just as a-matter-of-fact.
  • $hit, was I too transparent with my blog & un-newsletter? At first I was embarrassed because I had shared bits and pieces about my life which I hadn’t expected to change. My daily life inspires my un-newsletters (which are also posted as my blog posts), so could I just keep going without any explanations? What the heck would I write about now? I’ve realized that I don’t have too much to share unless I’m being real. So real it is!
  • Where will I live and work? The beach. I’m buying a little bungalow with a home office for me and my pooch, Cannoli.

What has changed in my business—and what does the future hold?

It occurred to me that in the past few weeks, I’ve been really slow in responding to emails from clients I really like who were asking for help with certain things that fall slightly outside my wheelhouse—like editing, outreach letters, LinkedIn profiles and resume help. Normally I didn’t mind stepping outside of my zone to do stuff like this for clients…but these days, I’m finding it hard to fit everything in and stay focused.

I guess I was avoiding that fact. I was hoping days would pass and a yes window would open up. But finally, I had to say no to clients who I really like. Which sucked.

So there it is.

Let’s keep on rockin’…

And if you’re having a tough time, here’s a giant virtual hug!

Hi, I’m Deidre. In my posts, I talk about my voyage down the road of self-employment as a web copywriter, my achievements and roadblocks along the way, and what I’m learning as I go (with Marketing Mentor as my guide). To keep in touch, sign up for my un-newsletter here and get my freebie download, 12 Sparks to Write Sizzling, Audience-Attracting Website Words.