A year ago today I sat in Duck & Waffle, looking out across the City of London, and beyond. Up there on the 40th floor I could see my life in London spread out on the streets below. The offices that I’d worked in, the areas I’d lived in, the pubs I’d drunk in, the architectural markers that trigger bursts of memories.
The last day of one career and the start of another. I’d worked in 6 roles, with 12 bosses, across 5 offices, in 3 cities, for the same employer. I’d been there as the Global Financial Crisis hit, had microphones thrust in my face as I exited the building (novel the first time but annoying by the 4th or 5th) and seen public perception of my industry nose dive. My time was up.
A year later and I sat this morning looking out across Perth CBD, from Kings Park. Perched on a wall, coffee in hand, I couldn’t help but reflect. It’s been a year of travel and change, getting to grips with a career change and the building of a business. So what have I learnt from a year on the lam from the 9 to 5?
Simply, there is no 9 to 5 when you’re working for yourself. Ideas strike at any point; no respecter of the clock. While these lightbulb moments excite there is the drudge of the paperwork. Insurance, tax, accounting, licence agreements, all those things that you want to put off but are essential to getting paid and protecting your business.
We made the move from the UK to ensure some balance. We haven’t found it yet. Working 7 days a week is common. Realising that there’s always something that needs to be done no matter how many days you work is a start to regaining a semblance of balance. You have to impose some rules, structure and draw lines of work and home. A great lesson learnt from another couple working together: No business before coffee. A simple rule that ensures work isn’t the first thing that’s discussed in a morning.
Procrastination, my old enemy, isn’t just the enemy of the to do list, but of your bank balance. A simple equation that if the work isn’t done, then you don’t get paid. Let’s be honest. In a 9 to 5, you easily get away with an off day (or week), safe in the knowledge that payday will come regardless.
The lesson above all others is that being on the lam from the 9 to 5, isn’t easy. It is the most work you’ll ever do. Sometimes for little reward or praise. You’ll wonder, why the f*** am I doing this. But then you immediately know why you’re doing it. Becuase when things come right, when you have wins (however big or small) you know that it was down to your work, the decision to get out and do things for yourself.