Friday April 21 marked my 6 month “leave-iversary” from my 9-5 corporate job. So that means Monday April 24 was my 6 month “self-employ-iversary” with Brightwater Accounting and Brightwater Financial. How did I celebrate?
Considering April 18 was the end of tax season, except for a few clients on extension, I treated myself to a massage. And on that Monday, I just got down to work. And did a few loads of laundry. I later enjoyed the freedom to shut my laptop during the middle of the day to go out for a few runs. And then I caught up with a biz bestie over coffee to discuss our businesses and strategy. So while I may not have had a celebratory drink or cupcake, I’m starting to create a more balanced life.
Monday was my birthday and I planned on taking the day off. I met up for coffee and nails in the morning, looked at bridesmaid dresses at Nordstrom’s, and then hoped to have a business strategy session with myself to level-set for the rest of the year.
Well, Monica stayed home from school after complaining that her knee hurt and couldn’t walk. And then she woke up from her nap with a massive bloody nose.
So if nothing else, being self-employed and a mom has taught me the importance of flexibility. To be flexible with my schedule as well as my expectations.
Do I wake up excited to start working in and on my business? Not every day.
Do I wake up before my kids to work out or get some work done? Heck no! Alex already thinks 5:15am is a reasonable time to start the day.
Do I dread battling Chicago traffic to go work in a cube? Not any more!
How are things going?
As the title hints, this will be a bit of a brain dump and ramble-fest.
First, self-employment is tough, but definitely doable. I talked about doing this for SO long. I still have moments of overwhelm and self-doubt, but I’m feeling a bit more balanced and confident as a business owner. Yes, tax season was still a little crazy, but I made it!
Just start. It’s never going to be perfect. My service offerings, descriptions, and the way I communicate my value to clients have evolved over the past 6 months. The best analogy I heard recently is that big tech companies like Apple and Microsoft are always coming out with product updates. If they’re not perfect right out the gate, why do I think I have to be? And while I don’t know everything about taxes, I know more than I give myself credit for.
When it comes to starting a business, go where the fish are and play to your strengths. The timing of my self-employ-iversary worked out well because people were starting to think about their taxes, especially entrepreneurs. When I first starting my accounting career, I didn’t feel like I was making much of a difference. After receiving some heartfelt thanks from clients, I now feel like I’m helping people. Business owners and individuals want that peace of mind when it comes to their taxes and finances. I’m able alleviate some of their stress when it comes to tax prep. I’m taking the extra time to answer their questions. And I’m finding them ways to save money on taxes.
Feel confident with your pricing. Not everybody is going to be your ideal client. Instead of being a churn and burn tax mill, I’m creating a boutique accounting and financial planning business. And yes, my pricing reflects that. I’m taking the extra time to build long-term relationships with my clients. I patiently answer their questions, provide background information, and hopefully over deliver. This business model seems to be working out since clients are already referring new business to me.
I can project any sort of income or expense figures I want, but it’s another thing to put in the work and make it happen. Seeing my business bank accounts grow is so rewarding! I EARNED this money! This is from MY effort!
Some people have the guts to start a new venture on a wing and a prayer, but we’re a bit more risk adverse. Regardless, it’s so important to have an emergency fund and safety net. To help us feel more comfortable with my decision to leap, I picked up some part-time accounting work..
Additionally, gather a strong support network. John supported me in this career decision and agrees that things are going well 6 months in. There were a few tough conversations in the beginning, but now that I’m putting in the work and seeing positive results, it validates our decision.
In addition to support at home, get a support network of others in your industry and life. I chat with other moms, bosses, accountants, and different combinations of the three to get new ideas for my business, vent, share referrals, and bounce questions off each each other when overwhelmed by Google search results.
Personally, I’m doing better with setting limits. I’m taking more time for self care (I’m in a wedding in 4 months…eeek!) I’ve blocked off time to go to work out so that I won’t be surprised by a client call and tempted to skip a workout. Sure there are nights that I fire up the laptop once the kids are in bed (if I haven’t crashed myself) to catch up on client work.
More recently, I’ve taken Fridays off my booking pages. I might make a special exception, but now I have some breathing room to focus on my work and catch up on things. And I won’t feel guilty if I bug out early on a Friday afternoon ;)
To clear up a little brain space, I recently met with some other Chicago boss moms to learn about bullet journaling. Fancy notebooks! Stickers! (affiliate links!) I’m feeling a bit more organized when it comes to managing our personal life, two businesses, and part time work.
Sometimes I wonder if I had some degree of postpartum anxiety. Or maybe this is just me being a perfectionist putting too much pressure on myself. I’m doing better by getting more sleep, drinking plenty of water, having enough protein in my diet, and trying to exercise. My Fitbit helps and I just downloaded the fitness app Aaptiv.
So that’s where things are. I’m looking forward to getting outside more and growing my businesses this summer.