What's it like to run your own business?
What was your dream job when you were growing up? Did you ever think about becoming an entrepreneur?
If you could change your job now – would you?
I received a letter recently asking me about being self-employed…
At Glenwood High School one of the S3 elective subjects is “Be your own boss”. The class have been learning about entrepreneurs and were asked to make contact with a local small business. One of the students decided to get in touch and ask a few more questions about Impressive Memories.
I’d have loved to be taught about being self-employed when I was at school.
Not only did I have no idea what job I wanted to do when I was 14, I don’t think being self-employed was even mentioned as being a possibility.
Could this mean more students will become entrepreneurs?
Here are the questions Mollie asked me…
Name of business:
Impressive Memories – where I make your memories tangible. To touch, hold & treasure for a lifetime.
Reason for choosing the name:
Initially, I called my business Impressive Babies because I predominantly worked only with babies and I took their impressions…which were impressive. As my business progressed I didn’t only work with babies but children, adults and pets too, I was also creating jewellery and ceramics – the name no longer felt right…so in 2011 I changed it to Impressive Memories.
The name to me means I capture memories, through impressions – and I still always aim to be Impressive!
When did you start the business?
I started lifecasting when my daughter Erin was born in 2003. I created casts for friends and family for several years. In 2011 I registered my business with HMRC and officially became self-employed.
Why did you start the business?
I wanted to capture memories of my daughter as she grew up, then realised other people wanted to do this too.
I enjoyed helping people hold on to tangible memories of moments that were important to them. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make a living doing something I loved with no one telling me what to do!
How long did it take to start the business?
Initially, I started my business working only part-time on it, while still teaching part time too. Soon it became clear that both jobs needed more hours than I had, and I needed to decide how to go forward.
The dream of being 100% self-sufficient sat in the back of my mind until 2013 when I started working in the funeral industry capturing memories for families who’d lost a loved one. It made me realise that life is short, often shorter than we’d expect. You only get one life and I knew I’d regret it if I DIDN”T go for it. I kept asking myself “What are you waiting for?” It’s easier to make excuses and NOT do something
I knew I wanted to work on my business full time but it is a scary prospect to leave a secure career, with a salary, a pension and stability. As a solo parent, I had no backup plan and had to make a lot of changes if I was to make my business a success.
In 2014 I resigned from my teaching career and decided to focus 100% on Impressive Memories.
Do you enjoy being self-employed?
Yes, I love being self-employed. It’s hard work…constantly, the hours are long and it’s hard to switch off and stop working – especially because I work from home. It is a rollercoaster and no two days are ever the same…or predictable, which I really like. I have no intentions ever to work for anyone else again.
If you could go back would you change anything?
I wouldn’t change anything I’ve done. I have always made the best decision I can, at that time. You never know what’s ahead of you, and you can’t change what’s already happened so you should always trust your gut instinct and do your best…that’s all you can ever do.
Is it easier having your own business than working for someone else?
Neither option is easier or harder than the other, just different.
Being your own boss needs more than just the ability to create the product your service you plan to sell. You need self-discipline, a lot of hard work, tenacity, determination and bucket loads of courage.
Running a business successfully you have to become an expert in so many different things…not just making/doing the thing you think you’re good at!
Possibly the biggest misconception people have about being self-employed is that you can do what you want, when you want and never have to do things you don’t like to do…erm…WRONG! The only thing I outsource is my accounting & tax…everything else I do myself. From CEO to cleaner.
I can only spend about 20% of my time actually doing the hands-on making of products, 80% of my time is taken up running the business properly.
I have had to learn about finances, accounting, marketing, time management, advertising, IT, web design, budgets, investment, communication, customer care and not forgetting all the laws surrounding your industry too.
Would you recommend starting a business to other people?
Deciding what to do in life is a decision only you can make. What’s right for me might not be right for someone else.
My advice would be to ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen?” if you can answer every single question and scenario, and be brutally honest, then you’ll know if you can do it, or not.
Small business survival rates are as high as 91 per cent after one year of trading, but after five years just four in ten small businesses will still be trading.
If you think you’ve got what it takes – go for it!
I did and I love it.
Have an Impressive week!