When I started Isabel & Ink back in February I had no idea what was in store for me. My interests lay firmly in 'creating'. Creating logos, concepts, invitations, typography, business cards, websites, brochures... just basically creating anything and with the added luxury of doing it all from my own home. I had a rather naive image of myself casually sipping coffees, playing with Pantone swatch books and having bellinis with stylish London brides whilst the money just rolled in. Very occasionally that has been the case but more often than not 2016 consisted of late night designing, working weekends, online VAT calculators and baked beans on toast. Would I change it though to go back to a steady, regular income, pension plan and health benefits in an office environment? Absolutely NOT! And here are some reasons why:
1. F L E X I B I L I T Y - Although you may find yourself working longer and harder than in a normal office, you have the added benefit of being able to pick and chose your hours. If you need to pop out for a doctor's appointment or head out of the city early on a Friday then you can. You can work to your own schedule safe in the knowledge that you will make up the time if and when you need to.
2. P E O P L E - I can honestly say that I have met and formed great working relationships with more people this year than ever before. I like to make a point of trying to meet every client however large or small the project in hand is. I've learnt so much from meeting such an array of fascinating people and have formed some fantastic links through doing so. You never know where one project or meeting might lead to.
3. G O A L S - You set your own goals. No more appraisals or unrealistic corporate targets with ineffective buzzwords like 'client-facing' and 'transparency'. Your goals are real because you know that everything you achieve will benefit you and your business. They can be small, daily goals or more long-term ones but they work because they come from you, are managed by you and only achieved because of you.
4. P O S S I B I L I T I E S - When you work for yourself / own your own business every meeting, email, project or piece of advice could lead to something exciting. Your salary isn't capped and nor are your abilities. You don't have a line manager constantly keeping you in check and telling you that something is 'beyond your job remit' or 'not how things are done here'. Set yourself your own rules and watch the possibilities unfold. Be prepared for a fair few dead ends and clients that try and take you for a ride but this is all part of the process as you will learn what is possible and not possible within your own boundaries.
5. Y O U R T I M E - You start to focus a bit more on what's best for you. It can be hard to separate yourself from the job at times and you may find yourself lying awake at night wondering how to deal with that particularly tricky project, but you learn very quickly the importance of having your own time to do the things that matter. You will start to appreciate those close to you even more than you did before and your true friends and family will understand and support your goals and not mind if you miss the odd dinner or gathering because of your work. Learn to say 'No' to things that cause unnecessary stress or tiredness because in the first year of business especially you will be putting everything you've got into making it work.
6. S A T I S F A C T I O N - I can't explain the satisfaction and joy that comes from making a sale or receiving payment for a project, particularly in the early days. Knowing that it has all come from you and your vision and that you are building something that excites and challenges you is very rewarding.
Starting a business or going freelance may not be for everybody but these are some attributes and traits I think everyone who is thinking about it should have:
1. Be willing to learn as you go
2. Accept that you will make mistakes and nothing is perfect
3. Keep up a good pace of work and motivation
4. Take advice from others but also have conviction in your own ideas and vision
5. Be creative.