Surviving The Roller-coaster Of Self Employed - StrongLife

Surviving The Roller-coaster Of Self Employed

self employed

Not health & fitness related, but here’s one for the self employed who are surviving the roller-coaster that is running your own business.

It’s something that always comes up in conversation with clients and friends.

I’ve quite a few clients who are self-employed, especially within their first 2 years.

A few others have friends who run their own.

So today I’ll run over some common themes that come up in conversations.

But first, let’s just clarify – I am by no means a “successful” business person in my own eyes.

However, I have made it, so far, into the last quarter of my 4th year in business.

So I suppose I must have some bit of a business head on me if I’ve survived.

So today, let’s dig into the main things we, self employed folk, face.

The Isolation

When you set up your own business, no one really understands it.

“Why would you leave a safe 9-5 job?”

“Sure that’s madness and the country struggling”

“Ah sure who has money for that craic”

And the good ole:

“Would you not get a real job?”

No one ever sees that the business you’ve chosen is what makes you tick.

It’s what makes you get up every day ready to take on the world.

It means you never have to dread another Monday.

Unless that’s the day you set all your direct debits to go out. I really need to change that!

It means you no longer go to work for a boss you hate, doing a job you despise, just so you can wish your life away until 5pm on Friday so you can get drunk and forget about work for 48 hours.

I know, I done that for 7 years!

One thing I really noticed in the first 2 years was the isolation.

Only other self-employed/business owners really understood what it’s like.

So look at building a small network of fellow entrepreneurs so you can just chat and feel like you’re not alone.

It’s a big help and it’s something that can allay some of your fears and stress.

Which brings the next point.

The Stress

Show me someone who set up their own business with zero  stress and I will show you a liar.

Well unless they’re Donald Trump who got a small loan of a few million of his aul lad.

But they’re few and far between.

The biggest stress can come about from this:

You came into business full of enthusiasm and passion, however;

  • Your first few months are slower than you would have liked
  • Bills you hadn’t accounted for roll in the door
  • Money is running out fast and you begin to lose faith
  • You spend time online seeing all successful businesses doing great and you ask “why isn’t that happening for me”

One thing is certain, no one just rushes in the door to give you money until they know what you can do for them.

And building that level of trust, recognition and brand awareness takes time.

So always focus on the clients you currently do have, do excellent work and they will surely recommend you further.

It takes time, so give yourself it.

And be very smart too where you direct your finances.

So let’s talk….


The #1 stressor for anyone.

Whether you’re in business or working a general job, we rarely are happy with our financial levels.

In the first 2 years, money seems to go quicker than it comes in.

I remember weeks I’d be doing really well financially and then I’d realise every last cent of it was earmarked for bills etc.

Which can leave you feeling deflated.

We want to show off that we are successful, we want to buy nice things and live a great life.

But it has to be a measured approach.

There’s no point burying ourselves in debt to drive a 181 Audi when in reality those car repayments mean we don’t leave the house at weekends.

Anyone that knows me will know I had a 99 Peugeot until last May.

The big business owner driving an 18 year old car.

Good news, I’ve since upgraded to a 2010!


But it’s well within my financial capabilities while still allowing me to do fun stuff in life.

So be sensible.

Your hard work will bear fruit, it might just be a little bit further in the future than you would like.

Sure It Can’t Be That Hard To Run A Business

That can be said so many times to you.

It’s not, once you get up to speed with it.

I find this is one area so many don’t appreciate.

It’s the getting up at 7am every day and getting home to bed after 10pm at night.

Staying in on a Saturday night because you’ve to do accounts, tax returns and create marketing material on a Sunday morning so you can get clients that week.

It’s the behind the scenes work that nobody ever sees.

There’s a picture of an iceberg that perfectly depicts the life of a business owner.

People only ever see the tip of the iceberg, no one ever looks at what’s beneath the water line.

Beneath the water line is all the long hours, stressful days and hard work that you put in.

“I start early and I stay late. Day after day, year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success” – Lionel Messi

I’m not 100% sure if Lionel Messi actually said that, but it’s highly relevant.

Keep doing the hard work and it will soon turn into success.

The Motivational Factor

Okay, let’s switch tune here and look at things in a much better light going forward.

The greatest thing I bet into myself was “Do 1 thing every day that takes your business forward”.

1 Thing. Simple.

Be that a replying to an email, a facebook post/ad, trying a new marketing strategy or getting in touch with old clients.

1 thing every day that brings your business forward.

The first 2 years ARE tough.

There’s no denying that.

Everyone in business knows that.

We all face times where we consider packing it in and getting a “normal job”.

It’s tough not waking up on a Friday to see your wages come in.

All those bills don’t care if you’ve had a bad month, you better cough up.

But as time goes by, you suddenly realise you’re gaining momentum.

You start to see that all the long days and hard work is paying off.

You’re happier at work, you no longer lose sleep over minor things and those envelopes coming in the door no longer make your heart stop.

For me, it was towards the end of year 3 that things turned a corner.

However, there were times before that where I genuinely considered packing it in.

And I can only look back and feel grateful that I was stubborn enough to not give in.

Because I honestly think I’d be so miserable if I had.

So regardless of how tough things are right now, give it all you have.

Don’t be dragged down by negative people or naysayers.

Asking for help is never a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of courage.

Learn from your peers, people who are further down the path of success that you wish to follow.

Success leaves clues.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Never be afraid to give it your very best shot.

And if that’s not enough or you realise it’s just not for you?

Hold your head up high, because people will only ever say shit about you because you tried something they were too afraid to do themselves.

Use it as an experience to learn from.

Dust yourself down and go at it again with a new perspective.

And never feel bad about going back to a normal job.

Because at the end of the day, we’re all here to enjoy life and knock the craic out of it.

Regardless of how much you earn or what you work at, that’s your mission.

So go and chase success, chase happiness and don’t be afraid to try.


We should never fear failure in life

We should only fear not trying


Happy Friday.


Colm Duignan

Colm Duignan

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