A little over five years ago with a divorce on the brink of finalising, I walked out of a job and moved some 70 miles back across the country to my family home. Then, as a man in his late 30s and still with debt accrued paying for a Master’s Degree he’d finished nearly four years prior to that may not have seemed the most sensible option. After all, I was quitting a regular income to set up a business with no guarantee of return. There is also the taboo, after all, of living with parents staring your 40th in the face.
Most people who know me personally knew I was at my wit’s end after spending several years applying all over the country for jobs I was qualified to do. There came a point when I thought this cycle would never end and I’d be forever stuck in an area in which I no longer wanted to live. Quitting was a bold step that I took so I could move on with life at that time in my life. Now I look back five years later and I can see despite the difficulties, it was the best thing I ever did. I have sometimes alluded to having a life-long belief that at some point, and maybe for a long part of my working life, I would end up self-employed. I’ve never really explained why, but in a bout of self-reflection, I’m going to try to explain for people who don’t know me personally.
I Have a Low Tolerance for Bullsh*t
I have a rebellious streak based primarily on fairness and doing what is right. I rarely take things as they are or at face value, refusing to accept, as many do “that’s just the way the world works, get over it” mentality. Justice is a powerful motivator for me which is a stark contrast to the attitude of accepting your lot which is so prevalent in business today. No doubt it has hindered me in the past. When I have felt treated like crap by a line manager, I have had no qualms about saying so while other people just accepted it for an easy life. I have also had no qualms about challenging policies that I perceived as counterproductive to what we were trying to achieve, and policies from on high that I perceived as downright stupid.
I walked out of a job in the late 1990s with a well-known retailer who’d promised the world and failed to deliver any of it. Even in jobs that I’ve loved doing (the job I took after the one I walked out), I’ve been prepared to stand up to senior managers. It has landed me in hot water – never even received so much as a verbal warning and certainly never sacked – but I’ve constantly come up against this attitude of “there are ways of doing things” and maybe I’ve not been offered promotions for which I would have been the best candidate. It was then I told myself “one day, I’ll be my own boss.”
So Why Didn’t I Do It Before Now?
People who know me also know I spent most of my life with critical low self esteem. It may seem a contradiction to have the confidence to stand up to a boss or a company’s policies and having critical low self-worth. The truth is, I was sure of myself in how the job functioned but lacked it to consider making my belief a reality. Plus, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. One thing I do know about myself is that when I have been given a project to really get my teeth into, a problem to solve or an issue to make more efficient and easier, something complex that others have struggled to get their head around, those are the moments where I’ve been able to shine. I do consider myself a great problem solver. I would even say that I get a kick and even personal value in coming up with practical solutions. Some managers have recognised that in me in the past and given me the freedom to change tasks that have given them and my predecessors a headache and I am extremely grateful to those who did recognise that.
Despite Everything Else, Freelancing and Entrepreneurship Require Focus
While my rebellious streak has held me back, so, I feel, has the lack of willingness to push for recognition for my achievements. That is nobody else’s fault except mine. Five years ago, it would have been hard for me to list any attributes that I could point to as being beneficial to entrepreneurship. I am an introvert and happy in my own company most of the time. I don’t crave as much human contact as other people appear to crave and social gatherings with too many people or for too long I tend to find mentally and emotionally exhausting. Being popular would be a burden, not an aspiration! The ability to focus and not needing to be around people all of the time has certainly been a big help over the last five years and long may it continue. I know I have the ability to knuckle down and focus and it is that, I believe, that has led to five years of greater success than I ever thought I would achieve.
I’ve now been a freelance content writer and proofreader for over five years. That is not going to change any time soon. The stream of new clients and existing contracts bringing new challenges drives me. Some clients have given me the types of project to get my teeth into that have always craved in my work. The constant need for self-improvement and change has also driven me to explore photography as a side business. I already have a stock photo page at Alamy (by the way the photo above is available download at the site). In the new year I’m taking a photography course at a local college to get to grips with the camera and theory. Also next year, I expect to offer photographic prints through this website, migrating to another platform, or having separate sites. Longer term, I may offer product photography but we’re talking at least a year away as I do not have the right equipment presently, nor the technical skills in photo editing.
It’s been a great five years; I wouldn’t change any of it. Here’s to what the next five years will bring.