Things I’ve Learnt in a Year of Being Self-Employed

Today marks a year since I took that huge leap of faith into the world of self employment. It feels like only yesterday and yet it feels like forever at the same time. It’s been a huge year for us as a family in so many way – finishing our extension, Little Man starting school and new work situations for Dave and I – and so today has come quicker than I ever expected.

But, this year of working from home hasn’t all been plain sailing. It’s been as much a leap of faith as I expected it to be and I’m not going to say it’s been all fun and games, coffee dates and exciting projects. It’s been great but it’s been hard work too – and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Life now is how I always dreamed life would be but I have learnt and realised so much in the last twelve months since I gave up my day job. Here are just a few of the things I have learnt:

– When you are self employed you will always worry about money. No income is guaranteed once you’re self employed, you won’t get a lump of money into your account each and every week or month.

– People will always pay late. I invoice people, wait 30 days and often I am still chasing them for payment for the next few weeks. This goes hand in hand with my first point – even if I have completed work and am due to be paid it doesn’t mean I will physically have the money at any given point. The money comes when it comes. Also, 60 day payment terms are getting more and more common and some people pay by cheque too – all making payments take longer and longer.

– My income can vary massively from month to month depending on what invoices get paid when – and what work I agree and do each month. Because of this it’s so important to have a savings pot in place for when those invoices don’t get paid when they should.

– Working from home is hard. You are in charge of your own time, your own motivation and your own to-do list. You could easily sit and watch trashy TV all day if you wanted to but, work needs to get done. It’s so easy to get distracted by everything at home – from washing to the TV or pottering around. Because of this, it’s often easier and more productive to work from a coffee shop – or anywhere else that isn’t your own home.

– On the flip side, if I want to go and see a special school assembly, be there for sports day or have an afternoon off to go and see a friend for coffee and a catch up then I can. Working from home is amazingly flexible and perfect for family life.

– It’s hard to get a good work/life balance when you have children at home. For me, September was a turning point as Little Man went to school for the first time and so I could just work when the children were at school and in the evenings when they went to bed if I needed to. Before that I had to work around them a bit in the afternoons but I knew it wouldn’t be forever – now, with both in school we have a much better balance.

– Even though I’m at home I can’t do everything. I spent months trying to juggle work, cleaning, cooking and a social life and I just couldn’t do it all, something had to give. Over recent months I’ve realised that if I’m earning a full time wage, working full time hours then I can’t be trying to fit cleaning into those hours too – and we’ve actually just employed a cleaner to take some of the load off.

– One of the worst parts about being self employed is when you’re sick. When the children are sick you can still get on and do work usually but when you’re sick and you have work to do… eugh. There’s no such thing as a true sick day when you’re self employed.

– Not having to ring in to work when your child is sick is the best thing though. I would always get the guilts, feeling so bad that I couldn’t work because my child needed me. Now, if a child needs me for whatever reason I am there.

– Working from home means I have access to food and drink all day every day. This is both amazing and terrible all at the same time. It’s great having a hot cup of tea whenever I want one but it’s pretty hellish being able to reach for the biscuits constantly too! For this reason it is so hard to diet working from home and I’m so much heavier than I was when I was working in my day job.

– In the last year I haven’t had that Monday Morning Feeling at all. I have loved getting up each day, I haven’t had work worries that have kept me up at night and I have been a lot less stressed.

– It can be lonely working from home. I have just my own company for most of the day so taking time out – going to see friends or having a wander around town – is a necessity. Everyone needs human contact and this blogging life could easily give me cabin fever as well as immense loneliness. Thankfully, I have masses of other bloggers online who keep me company whilst I work.

Really, working from home is the best thing that has ever happened to me but it’s been hard work too. I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else but I don’t feel like I can take my foot off the pedal just yet. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to relax and just enjoy being self employed but I enjoy being at home even if I do miss that guaranteed pay packet at the end of each month!

A year of working from home. It feels like a massive milestone and something to celebrate. Here’s to many more years of happy self employment.

Things I've Learnt in a Year of Being Self-Employed


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. Well done lovely you should be very proud of yourself. Nothing is ever easy but waking up without the Monday blues and loving what you do – well that sounds just perfect ❤

  2. Great to read this Donna. I agree with you that it’s tough working from home but like you, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Although, it would be nice if people paid on time. As you say, being able to be there when the children need you makes up for a lot.

  3. Great post! You keep rocking it! I can imagine it is tough – for me the biggest thing would probably be the fluctuating income, that must be difficult to try manage. Funny you say about the biscuits etc at home – for me it’s the opposite! At my office it seems like there is ALWAYS cake, back home at least I can just not buy it and tempt myself with it, I’m slimmer when I don’t work in an office 😀

  4. Thanks so much Hannah. I like to try and be as transparent as I can – I think it’s important to talk about both the good and bad bits and really appreciate your support x

  5. Congratulations on your one year milestone. There are many pros and cons of working from home but I think the pros far outweigh the cons. I hope the next year is just as successful for you x

  6. I couldn’t do it at all, I’d get cabin fever and would hate the lack of security and lack of pension (not helped by the OH being self employed too). Well done for doing the year and good luck with the rest.

  7. I honestly can’t believe it’s been a year! I’m so pleased that despite the tough parts, you still think it’s the best decision you’ve made. You’ve worked hard to get to this point and deserve everything that comes your way x

  8. Wow Donna a year already, I can’t believe it! Congratulations. I found it just too lonely when my littlest started school so my blog is now my hobby and I have a new job which I love. Xx

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