So…here I am.
Having established my business a year ago ..I put myself back to that day when I bit the bullet and went for it.
I had always thought that I would like to start my own company and go contracting, but never fully appreciated the leap of faith or self-belief required. I knew that financially it would be risky and effort wise the set-up would be hard work, but until you go for it, you just don’t know.
Starting your own business is an exhilarating, exciting, scary experience. Anything that you didn’t know about setting up a company and your responsibilities as a company director, or even the accountancy set-up….you learn in a very short amount of time! Bearing in mind that most people take this on board when also trying to ensure a steady income stream is a testament to the character of someone who starts their own business.
I was a serial “Permie” having worked in a mixture of public and private sector organisations. 9-5, office based, Monday to Friday. However, my last permanent job, as much as I loved working there, landed me in hospital many times and a shadow of my former self.
During my normal 60 mile commute into work on a sunny August morning in 2017 (and still recovering from the latest health issue..ironically a pulmonary embolism caused by my daily commute), a man in his mid 40’s decided to attempt suicide.
The chap had decided that morning, on his commute to work (I knew, as he was dressed in his work clothes) to suddenly stop his car on a busy expressway, walk up the side of a grass verge onto a bridge and tried to end his life by throwing himself off that bridge around 30 seconds before my car would have hit him. Luckily…it didn’t.
I wondered if his employers of whom which he proudly wore their uniform with their name emblazoned on his left side had noticed his despair. Whether his colleagues had noticed a difference in him over time? Could they see his mental or physical health deteriorate, saying nothing but still expecting him to perform.
It was during the strange calmness I felt comforting him, phoning the emergency services whilst holding his hand and trying to stop oncoming cars from hitting him that I realised how easy it is for a person to get to a stage to feel so desperate that hurling themselves off a bridge in the hope of being hit by oncoming traffic was their only option.
So, 4 days later, having not only thought of the ‘life is short’ element of that day, but taking stock of my own mental and physical wellbeing ..I handed my notice in and planned to leave permanent employment for working as a contractor and set the wheels in motion.
Limited company set up – check
Accountant chosen – check
Business banking – check
Contract – check
Walking away from a life of line management, personal development reviews, bureaucracy, office politics etc – check
Walking into a job where you’re there to get things done – check
A year on, I have learnt the following:
- Although I started contracting as a ‘self-care’ mechanism, I’m actually working longer / harder than I ever have – but when you’re doing what you love on your own terms, it’s an absolute pleasure (and my health is the best it’s ever been).
- It was harder to think of a company name than it was to actually set the company up! There are a range of companies out there to help you with the set-up.
- I work when / where I want for the people I want to. That gives a person an enormous sense of freedom and really makes me extremely grateful – which results in going over and above for my client without having to sacrifice family commitments. So we’re all winners.
- The contracting community is (mostly) made up of some fantastic people. I am lucky to be contracting at an organisation where there are many contractors. In one year I have made friends for life and grown as a person.
- I have never felt such a sense of pride as when I see my company name on official documents. Although I have always been proud of my work and what I had achieved, there is no way to explain how it feels to build something yourself and to see it exist as an entity in its own right.
- Contracting makes me happy.
So, here’s to another few years!