How Self – Employment Changed My Priorities

Daphine Bikaba investigates how Sarah Stockdale claims “setting up my own business was the best career decision that I’ve made.”

Photo Credit: Sarah Stockdale

Following the result of the referendum vote, the uncertainty surrounding the job market continues to grow.  With the National Employer Survey indicating that British employers are less optimistic about creating jobs, many employees are most likely holding on to their current positions.  For that reason, starting a business is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind.

However, being an employee doesn’t always live up to what it seems, because at times I found myself feeling unfulfilled and detached from my work.

Today I run my own business, Glass Jackal, selling contemporary and handcrafted glass art, which I set up over a year ago.  I consider myself an artist first and foremost before I consider myself a business owner.

I have learned more than I could have anticipated about all aspects of running a small creative business since I became self-employed.  My business relies solely on me, and the decisions I make directly impact on it.  I feel a strong connection to everything I do where my work is concerned, which gives me a huge sense of satisfaction and achievement.

The job I really wanted to do didn’t exist within a company; instead I had to create it. I worked in a salaried position as a university administrator for several years. Whilst my job was what most people would regard as a good solid role as it came with job security, progression and opportunities I didn’t feel satisfied, or that my work was meaningful in the way that I do now.

Working for a large organisation meant that sometimes I felt insignificant, and getting things done would take a long time due to the decision-making processes and hierarchies. My pay was better then, and I had paid holidays, but these things are less important to me now that I’m self-employed. I would still much rather work for myself.

Although money is important to pay the bills as it is a necessity, I have realised that I actually get my happiness from other things.  For instance, being able to spend my time creating is my true passion, and I now have greater responsibility over my working life.  I used to value different things in a job, such as a salary and company benefits, but none of these factors ever led me to feeling as happy or as satisfied as I do now.

Although I have faced financially difficult times running my own business, which led me to question the viability of what I was doing, I have been able to make decisions to overcome those problems.  However, I still feel that a large proportion of my job security depends on the world around me, and how well my work is received.  Ultimately, if I can’t sell my work, then I’m out of a job.

Overall, running a business is hard work, stressful and can feel risky at times, with only four in ten small businesses expected to still be trading after five years, I am however prepared to make sacrifices in order to continue working for myself.   I’ve had to get to grips with the fact that I no longer have a guaranteed income every month  as each month is unknown, I now see my finances differently. However, I think the obstacles I face as a business owner are much easier to accept because I think I have the autonomy to do what it takes to succeed.


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