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Over the past five years of being a self-employed freelancer I’ve had to learn a lot of different lessons the hard way. Some of them were great lessons while others hurt a bit during the learning process.
And none of them were as difficult as the ones I’ve had to face this year (and 2016 isn’t over yet!).
This is actually one of the main reasons why I started this blog; to be an honest and transparent place to discuss real-life problems and triumphs of being a business owner.
So here’s an honest look (and my personal take), about what no one really tells you about being self-employed.
Work-life balance doesn’t exist
If you’re starting a freelance business as a way of not exchanging time for money, having less stress or finally achieving proper work-life balance, then I’ve got bad news. This is NOT the right line of work for you.
There’s no such thing as work-life balance when you’re the boss. In fact, you’ll probably end up working many, many more hours than you would if you were still an employee.
I’ve said this before, but the version of work-life balance that is actually attainable comes with understanding the time and season that you’re in. Think of work-life balance not as a weighted scale, but as a pendulum that swings back and forth; one week you focus more on family and the “life” portion of the balance, then the next week you’re furiously working and pouring your creativity into a new project.
When you run your own business, every day is different and your schedule is nearly impossible to predict. But you’ll eventually get into a good rhythm and appreciate the spontaneity of being self-employed. Work-life balance is constantly elusive but it will never be a boring adventure.
And I’m not alone in this assumption. Check out this real-life example below, and these other small business stories.
Peace of mind is worth the cost
Over the years I’ve invested thousands of dollars into starting, running and expanding my online business. In fact, according to my bookkeeping software, I’ve spent just over $109,685 in the past five years to be exact (a good portion of which are self-employed taxes). That’s A LOT of money!
As I look back over the different services, tools and assistants I’ve paid for, I find that I don’t really regret any of them. From business systems to help me streamline my tasks, to data protection solutions that backup sensitive tax data, all the money I’ve invested into having more peace of mind have been worth it.
Now, I’m not saying go out and spend all of your money on courses you’ll never take, or products you’ll never use. But instead, be precise with your financial investments and don’t feel bad about spending money on systems or products that help move your business forward.
Everyone always says that an investment in yourself is the best one you can make, and that’s so true. Even more so when it comes to peace of mind, having less stress and focusing on self-care. These are the expenses I don’t regret ever paying for.
One emergency can set you back
I’ve never felt truly on my own as I have as a small business owner. I mean, everything from insurance coverage, self-employed taxes, retirement savings, liability protection and even the rights to my work are all on my own shoulders to protect.
I found this out the hard way recently when my husband was in a car accident while working for a well-known grocery delivery service. After filing a claim with our insurance company we found out that they wouldn’t cover the incident because he was “on the job” while it occurred.
After pushing back on them and doing some research online, we found out that we did indeed need to have commercial auto coverage since the hubs is an independent contractor. Our lack of knowledge about this meant we were stuck with the $6,000 car repair bill. No one else is going to help us, and this emergency is setting us back about 6 months, financially speaking.
Insurance coverage, whether it’s for a vehicle all the way down to personal data backup, is essential for replacing systems that may be lost, stolen or destroyed. But having the right insurance coverage won’t bring back the time, asset or data loss.
Basically, you’re on your own. It’s up to you to find adequate coverage for yourself and your business assets.
The good outweighs the bad
All this being said, though, being a business owner is one of the most rewarding and exciting things I’ve ever done. I sincerely love what I do and the path I’ve chosen for my life. I get to wake up every day, create my own schedule and am super passionate about the work I do.
Sometimes there are setbacks, yes, and I crave a steady paycheck like nothing else (ha!), but it’s not all bad. You just have to remember to focus on the good, not obsess about the bad. I know, I know, that’s usually easier said than done. You have to practice being positively-minded, even in the midst of a potentially devastating financial emergencies, such as our car accident.
Across all these different lessons, one point I do want you to take away from this is that businesses fail all the time. And you’ll make mistakes, and even fall into big failures as a business owner. But that doesn’t mean it’s all negative. There are precautions you can take, and systems you can put in place to protect your data as well as yourself.
Carbonite cloud backups and restores important data and information that’s essential to helping you get back to normal and resuming work fast. Without revenue, us freelancers won’t have successful businesses. So the goal is to overcome any obstacles as soon as possible and start earning money again.
Ready to protect yourself and your business assets from data loss? Sign up for a 30-day free trial of data protection from Carbonite!