How I Survived My First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment: Going It Alone at 40
by Liz Broomfield (now Dexter)
Self-published, 2013. 91 pp. with appendices
This books format came as a pleasant surprise: its a monthly diary, followed by appendices. I was expecting a book full of rules and suggestions based on lessons she learned—it has all that, but its presented as a story. From the introduction:
There are a lot of secrets in businessTop 10 business secrets you must know, Top 5 Marketing Ideas! but not an awful lot of honesty and openness. So I shared exactly how I did it, the plans I made, how I knew when it was time to jump ship from the day job.
Liz invites you to take a walk with her through the year, encounter the ups and downs with her, and learn the lessons as she learns them. She hopes that the journey will inspire others to do it the safe and calm way. As she says, Self-employment doesnt have to mean scary entrepreneurship.
It does get rough at times. Liz was going to call her networking group the Café of Pain. But her motto is Keep calm and carry on.
She established her business, LibroEditing, with what she calls a soft launch—going from full-time library employment to part-time, then even more part-time
The slow build-up meant that I knew I could do it—even though when she started Libro she had no idea that [she] was ever going to take it full-time.
And she didnt need to get a full-time income out of Libro immediately once it became her only job: she built up some savings while still employed and getting the business going.
After the plunge into full-time self-employment in December, she presents diary entries for the following year. We learn with her about marketing; having too much work, having too little, and what to do about it; whether to take risks; and more. Managing expectations is all very well, but these clients need the work quickly, and I cant make infinite deadlines for my less urgent clients: their work has to be done at some time!
Liz describes her methods for scheduling work and keeping accounts, knowing that readers will need to devise their own ways of organizing pieces of a business, and simply offers her ways as an example. Her description of how she handles her bookkeeping will encourage you to do yours promptly and regularly, even if your system is different. If youre self-employed, or thinking about it, just reading how she does things will probably give you ideas for your own business.
A section on social media and networking has useful information. Liz talks too about motivation and setting goals for yourself.
In a few places there might be too much detail for some readers. Liz mentions a lot of the work she did and where it came from, and she devotes a couple of pages to what she wears while working and a couple more to tea.
Near the beginning she presents a typical week before she went to full-time self-employment. It summarizes her schedule and is a bit dry to read, but it conveys the busyness of trying to juggle a job and a business.
Liz is British, and she occasionally uses some terms that will be foreign to us North American readers. I figured that Inland Revenue must be a regulatory agency and the C in HMRC probably stands for college (she registered with the first and took a course with the second). Nope: both Inland Revenue and HMRC (Her Majestys Revenue and Customs) are tax-collection authorities. But, differences in government and terminology notwithstanding, her description of how she handles her taxes present practical ideas that work in the USA. I too subtract the tax from self-employment income I receive and put it aside until its due.
The story of her first year of full-time self-employment ends with a look back—two looks, actually: one in December and one four months later, when she considered Libro a mature business.
The appendices help the reader how to decide whether to go self-employed, how exactly to do it, and [offer] some other useful hints and tips.
If youre thinking about self-employment, you could benefit from talking with somebody who is successfully self-employed. This ebook comes pretty close to that: its personal and informative. You can see how Liz did it, what went wrong and what went right, and even how she felt about it.
This whole ebook is included in Your Guide to Starting and Building Your Business. (I chose to review only the ebook about self-employment, because Ive done a good bit of freelance editing work but not with the intention of building a business—mainly in desperation when I was out of work. So I felt that I could fairly evaluate a book on freelancing but not one on starting a business. My freelance writing has always been a sideline and probably will be until somebody starts turning my screenplays into movies.)
You can buy Lizs books at http://lizbroomfieldbooks.com/.
Her LibroEditing blog, which I read avidly, is at http://libroediting.com/blog/ and has links to still more of her online writing.