Things They Don`t Tell You

It is almost a year since I made the decision to go self-employed, and a recent post by Wiola –, made me think about the learning curve that is being self employed.

I totally agreed with Wiola`s observation that sometimes you enjoy your job so much, you feel guilty for charging people. I have lessons like that. I have rides like that too.

When you go self-employed you suddenly gain control over your life. You can book days off when you like, and work your day around any doctors appointments or farriery appointments. It makes it so much easier to organise your social life too. I remember struggling to leave work on time, racing through the house and changing my outfit within seconds, only to arrive at the party ten minutes late. Now, if I have an event to go to I rearrange any lessons, or the general day, so that I can arrive at that party on time.

I`m also benefitting from the fact that I can ride my horses during the day. This makes my leisure time much more enjoyable, and their work is more varied because I can hack more frequently during the week. I`m also not as tired or stressed when I ride them.

I enjoy the variation of being self-employed, but sometimes my life gets turned upside down. I love routine, and it only takes a client to change their lesson day for me to be thrown off track. Around Christmas I was spinning in circles as my weeks didn`t follow their usual plan because clients need to rearrange lessons to fit in with other social activities. There is also the variation in people I meet and horses I see, which makes life much more interesting.

So what are the cons of being self-employed?

If I don`t work a day, I feel like I`m not earning money. This unfortunate feeling often stays with me on the weekend so I throw myself into other activities, such as painting the spare bedroom.

I`m constantly aware of how much money I`m bringing in. Or not. If someone is away or busy one week, I fully understand, but am aware that I`m losing income. It sounds greedy, and most of the time at the end of the week or month I don`t feel hard done by, I just notice the cash flow more now I have sole charge for it.

I don`t have a base, or a captive audience of liveries at my own yard, which makes me very disposable. If someone doesn`t want me to teach them anymore, then BANG! That`s it. No warning, no notice period. Nothing. If a yard doesn`t want me to teach there then BANG! I`m disposed of as easily as a used tissue. This is the point that you hope your clients are loyal, so aim to treat them individually and give them the highest standard of work so that they come back.

As a self-employed individual I have to complete my own tax return, which I`ll be honest, I not looking forwards to doing, but I`m sure it will be fine. I also have fewer rights than an employee. I don`t get sick pay, I`m not entitled to rest breaks or paid holiday, am not protected against discrimination and can have any contracts broken without notice. Furthermore, there is very little representation for self employed people, legally – employees and employers have much more protection. Perhaps this is where I begin to develop my political views?

It is hard to plan for the future because I can`t guarantee what income I will have in two months time, which means you begin to live for the present – immediate gratification we called it in sociology. This goes against my upbringing of deferred gratification, and make saving for a pension seem impossible.

For someone quite reserved it is very difficult to advertise yourself and network positively. I`m rubbish at self-promotion!

So what have I learnt about being self-employed? It`s great fun being my own boss and I love being in control of the majority of my life, but it is full of uncertainty for the future. It`s amazing that as much control that I have, my success lies in the hands of others.


9 thoughts on “Things They Don`t Tell You

  1. aspireequestrian February 16, 2015 / 11:33 pm

    Glad you enjoyed my post 🙂 I feel for almost every point you mentioned 🙂 Except maybe that I do prefer to live for a moment, you can never guarantee future…

    The thing is, as we become self-employed, we have to embrace entrepreneurial side of this venture so I would say, definitely don’t feel like you shouldn’t advertise! How would otherwise people find you.
    I struggled with that concept for a while too but there are many ways to tell others about yourself and you can chose the one you feel most comfortable with.
    I went for blogging and educating and decided against ads as such for lessons as I found them ineffective and not really “me”. At the moment, I have enough work from word of mouth and via the blog that I would need to find a way to free more time to accept more clients. Although it’s a nice place to be in, I know (as you mentioned) that 2 months down the line everything might go upside down.

    However, I learnt also that even if full-time employment we never control what happens. As self-employed we might be at a mercy of clients but in the grand scheme of things it’s not that much different or worse to being at a mercy of 1 person – an employer…


    • therubbercurrycomb February 17, 2015 / 7:20 pm

      Oh I don’t feel I shouldn’t advertise… Well most of the time. I get worried I’m treading on toes, but self promotion doesn’t come naturally to me so I have to make a real effort.

      I’m thinking of doing a horse ownership course – have you done one?


      • aspireequestrian February 17, 2015 / 7:54 pm

        I do see what you mean. Regarding the horse ownership courses – do you mean the BHS ones? I prefer to do my own courses, I like to take bits and bobs from different systems and methods and put them together to match my training values. Yes, I am doing Aspire @ Coffee Time courses which are the combination of BHS exams (1,2,3,4) theory and practice with general horsemanship/equine husbandry 🙂 X

      • therubbercurrycomb February 17, 2015 / 7:56 pm

        Yes the BHS horse owners certificates. I thought I might try and do that and if it’s successful I could do general stable management, and set up a bit of a club doing it 🙂

      • aspireequestrian February 17, 2015 / 7:57 pm

        I would say definitely go for it 🙂 Mine are free of charge for all my clients on Aspire programmes but chargeable for everyone else. Just setting a group in London now 🙂 Good luck!

    • therubbercurrycomb February 17, 2015 / 7:22 pm

      I know you said that you’re at the mercy of the clients, and I agree that it might not be so bad compared to having all your eggs in one basket … But at the moment I’m at the mercy of one person trying to destroy my reputation 😥

      • aspireequestrian February 17, 2015 / 7:51 pm

        Sorry to hear that and it is sad indeed. I only ever been in an odd bullying/destruction environment and the only thing I would say is (if at all possible) keep doing what you do best and remove this sad person from your life asap…

  2. Tracy February 18, 2015 / 7:21 pm

    I’ve tossed around the idea of becoming self-employed (although not in an equine capacity) and it’s interesting to hear your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

    • therubbercurrycomb February 18, 2015 / 7:27 pm

      No worries. I like being self employed, despite the trough I’m going through at the moment, and would recommend it. However the uncertainty of the future does mean that it’s hard to get a mortgage (although my name is on the mortgage my income wasn’t included because it isn’t guaranteed) and also from a stability point of view, I don’t think I would go self employed if my partner was – it just means you don’t have a safety net. But that’s the coward in me! 😉

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