It’s roughly 6 months since I registered as self-employed and told my mostly-fantastic (he’d kick me for the mostly part) boss of 6 years that I was going to leave. Now’s as good a time as any to give you an update on how that’s going.
I have spent the past 6 years protesting about interacting with clients, thinking that talking to people was something I was no good at, something I needed someone else to guide. One of my biggest worries about being responsible for myself was that I would not have the motivation to talk to people, to sell myself to them, to help them choose me. Despite this I have managed to secure 2 ‘big’ website contracts, ongoing work with a local company I’ve been working with over the past 6 years and multiple small jobs offline and through social networking.
I’ve made mistakes: mistakes that have cost me money. Two ‘big’ ones that spring to mind (that could have been worse, thankfully):
Mistake 1: I entered into my first job, albeit a small one, with no contract or list of what I would and wouldn’t be doing. I had to wait for nearly 2 months to be paid. It ended well, but more out of luck than judgement.
Mistake 2: I have underestimated the amount of time I would spend on back-and-forth communications with clients. Getting specifications finalised, agreeing development schedules, bug testing and feedback, etc. I know this stuff ate a lot of time when I was employed, but when you’re working 9-5 it’s easy for it all to blend into the background. I need to make sure there’s more time for this so that deadlines are not abandoned later on as unrealistic. This brings me to…
I have yet to meet a set deadline. It’s not all been my fault: client hold-ups (deposit payment, tweaks to original spec docs, changing of minds etc) are a big factor — not a problem but ever present nonetheless — but I seriously underestimated the effect that juggling kids and work would have on my ability to a) concentrate and b) get something done. Oliver’s daytime sleep “problem” has been particularly damaging to my estimated timelines! Thankfully, everyone I’ve worked with (or am working with) has been fantastic & supportive. I can only hope that this continues, and that I can use this knowledge to create more realistic schedule in the future.