Sep 12, 2020

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3 Things No One Tells You About Being Self-Employed


When I first made the leap to working for myself, it was exciting. Entrepreneurship was always in the back of my mind from a young age.

Maybe it was because I watched my parents run their own business and it looked like fun. Or maybe because I’m stubborn as hell and like to do things my way.

Ten years into my career in the beauty industry, after some awesome accidental experiences in my travels to England and Australia, I was ready.

I was working in a salon that had recently had a change of ownership.

My boss had hired me right out of hair school, and she was awesome. She always found a way to help me achieve my goals, letting me add in extra hours so I could take six weeks of vacation, and giving me challenges to keep me motivated.

Working for her was amazing, and even though I still wanted to work for myself at some point, the thought of leaving felt way too risky. I had it so good at that salon. Why would I leave?

Then she sold the business.

Things changed, and not for the better. Under the new management, that job was no longer too good to leave.

So I left.

It was scary, but it was the push I needed. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

That being said, there are a few things I wish I would have known about going out on my own, things that no one could have taught me ahead of time.

And let’s face it, even if they’d tried, I probably wouldn’t have listened. Remember how stubborn I am?

So I am sharing these with you. Because, hell, if I can help you bypass some of the shit I had to go through then I feel I’ve done my job.


1. you never stop working.

Now of course I stop working. I go “off the clock” so to speak. I have to sleep and eat of course, but work is always in the back of my mind.

In the beginning it was really hard to separate work from life. I’d heard people say this, and as an employee at the time I kinda laughed it off, thinking “Oooookay…whatever, just stop thinking about work. Simple.”

Buuuuut…it’s not that easy, as I soon learned.

After starting my business, I began to notice my anxiety more. There was more on the line, and I was keenly aware of that.

I had to deal with everything. I no longer had a buffer, ya know, a receptionist to intercept—ahem, I mean answer— the calls from unhappy clients. I no longer had a boss that had my back and would stand up for me.

I had to do all that on my own and it consumed my mind. I didn’t want to let anyone down.

Texting and Instagram were also gaining popularity around the same time, which meant my clients could get a hold of me whenever they wanted. I lacked any sort of boundaries with clients and also with myself.

2. learn to save your money.

YIKES. This is the one thing that no one wants to talk about because it scares us.

I was so pumped in the beginning to see how much money I was bringing in. But I kept needing to buy new things for my business. Then there were fun things. And amazing education opportunities (hello, Paris twice that year!) and the thought of setting money aside was always brushed off until next month.

Then tax season came along. [insert horror movie music here]

As an employee, I had never noticed how much money came off my paychecks for income tax. Seeing that lump sum for my first year of business wasn’t fun.

And if you know me. I hate debt. I’m a can’t-handle-a-balance-on-my-credit-card kind of person. So I worked my butt off and paid it off within three months. PHEW. Thank goodness for the energy I had in my 20’s.

3. you’re gonna make mistakes

Ah yes, this one. I really don’t like this one.

And funnily enough, I wouldn’t call myself a perfectionist. But I do like to be in control, and mistakes make me feel like I’m not. Not feeling in control makes me so uneasy and squeamish.

But the sooner I learned that mistakes are inevitable and that mistakes help me learn and grow, the sooner I embraced them. (I know, I know. This sounds like a motivational pep talk, but go with it okay?)

Instead of beating myself up over the littlest or biggest mistake, I now ask myself “How can I respond to this and do better next time?”

Think of the people you go to for advice. I bet if you asked them about how they got to where they are now, they will have some good messy stories to tell.

It’s just part of the game.

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

Get to know me! :-)

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