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Guest Blog – What are you working for?

Clean up

It would be remiss of me to be the guest blogger this week without mentioning the riots. I’m not going to go on about the looting, why it started and who it is carrying out the violence and disorder. What I am going to talk about is how it has affected me as a self-employed person which is all the authority I have to speak on.

I work from home, where I live with my fiancé and two dogs, the dogs haven’t stopped needing feeding and walking and my fiancé is no less disabled so it seems life goes on. My clients still want their images, invoices and taxes still need to be paid and marketing still needs to be done. And this brings me to one of the points often overlooked by those used to a daily 9-5; if I take a day off then the work doesn’t get done. Oh, it must be great to be self-employed you can do what you want, when you want.

No, not really.

The buck stops with me, there are no managers or chair people to take the flak for me when takings are down, if I take a day off or a holiday then my work isn’t picked up by someone else until I return. The to-do list stays unchecked, the in tray stays full and the account balance doesn’t move.

So why does this relate to the riots? Well, it does and it doesn’t, but it illustrates a point that I have to deal with on a daily basis not just when the disgusting minority of this country decide they want to smash and steal things that aren’t theirs. A lot of people over the past couple of days didn’t/couldn’t go to work or closed early, so what happens when they return? Are they solely held responsible to the company’s takings? No. Can the company claim for loss of earnings from their insurers? Yes.

The responsibly of a self-employed person, especially in a small business, is a large one. No holiday pay, no sick pay, no duvet days, no maternity, no paternity. So in short, even if the rioting were happening right outside my house, until it put my family or property at risk I would probably still be working. When the snow gripped the country over the winter, I still got the train to London to shoot a catalogue with all my kit in tow. When I pulled the tendons in my ankle and foot, I made an ice pack and kept it elevated in front of the computer. And today, when a shoot was cancelled due to one of the girl’s safety coming from Manchester (one of the worst affected areas), I shot swatches for one of my other clients.

Saying all of this though, Self-Employment is perfect for my family situation. When my fiancé is having a bad day and cannot get off the sofa for the pain, I can work without being 10ft away from him and get him anything he needs. If we need to go to the hospital or doctors, I can make up the time by working later at night (or through the night!). You simply can’t get this type of flexibility from a full-time position working for an employer. I know, I tried.

So it gets to this point in my typing where I start to feel guilty that I’m taking time from my business to write this! But I shouldn’t and I know that a lot of self –employed people feel like this too. They can’t relax, they don’t know how to! I had a night to myself and I turned off the computer and lay on the sofa and started to watch a film. I started to feel irritable and fidgety so I started to reply to emails on my phone without even realising it! The business becomes so encompassing to your life that there’s no such thing as a day off.

So I will return to my work now and spare you the evening tumblings of my mind.

I would like to send my wishes to all of those who have been directly affected by the violence of the past few days especially the family of the 3 men killed in Birmingham. My heartfelt thanks to the police and every single person who has assisted with the clean-up, we’ll be joining you soon.

Emma x