My business anniversary passed without fanfare. Now safely in the hands of my accountant, my confirmation statement was filed without incident this year.
I couldn’t resist a quick retrospective of how my business has fared over that time. I’ll spare you the charts and keep those in my private data-porn collection.
I’ve made a decent personal living, drawing a modest salary every year, and topping up my pension annually. Being totally honest, that’s all I need.
The groundwork I put in over the first three years is now paying off. I rarely need to do cold outreach for new clients. My work is from existing clients, or referrals.
Which is fortunate because not only am I a terrible salesperson, but I also hate doing it too. At my stage in life, I’m actively trying to reduce the tasks that I don’t like.
In all aspects of life, only today I’m trialling a radical new laundry hack.
If I look back at the services that I’ve sold versus what I do now, my decision to really niche down to one service offering was right. I can command a higher rate, so I need to work less days. I still get variety by working with multiple clients.
I’ve also cut monetary and time costs by being ruthless with the subscriptions and memberships that every (almost no) business needs. I’ve kept just two that between them tick the boxes on community and professional representation.
I still tend to over-deliver at times – working far more hours in a day than I should knowing that I’m on a fixed daily rate. On the one hand I truly believe that this has meant that demand for my services hasn’t faltered. But it squeezed my free time.
It doesn’t help that I love what I do because I’m inclined to carry on. It’s really become more noticeable this year because some things are taking me longer anyway while I adjust to managing perimenopausal symptoms at work.
For the first time in years, I have two other pursuits that are also time and attention-intensive (long-distance running and volunteering.) Paid work is quite rightfully nudged into 4th place behind home, running and charity work.
That does not mean I intend to bring in less revenue or “phone it in” on the engagements that I take on. I need to continue working on setting and maintaining boundaries so that everything gets enough time.
Old habits are hard to break, but I am slowly getting there by being more selective about who I work with, the types of projects I work on and my working patterns across the week.
If what I think may happen turns out to be true, I’ll need more time out to go running over the next few years, if my knees and hips hold out at least. I’m the opposite of Kipchoge, so long distance = long TIME. My next stop is marathon.
On the work front, I’d like to slowly dial down paid consultancy and dial up voluntary. But I anticipate there will be a tipping point where I’m perhaps no longer marketable as a freelancer in my industry at 1-2 days a week. We’ll see.
I can see myself maybe switching to shorter, intensive stints that cover less of the year. Or seeking an analytical, employed position locally and winding up the business. At my age, these are possibilities no longer scare me.
In my 20s and 30s my career was my life. At 40 I burnt out and went freelance. In the last 5 years I’ve worked hard to make it lucrative but keep it small and simple.
Now my business supports my expanding other life. But I will need to keep checking in and adjusting ensure that things stay that way.
© Jo Gordon Consulting Ltd 2023