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When you’re self-employed, there are lots of dates you need to remember - the end of your company financial year, the tax year, your self-assessment deadline, your VAT direct debit date, your deadline for submitting your Companies House return.
But how many of us remember the day we went independent?
I first quit my job to go self-employed on July 4, 2008. The irony of the date isn’t lost on me - and that’s probably the reason I remember it. For others, perhaps the date is marked as the incorporation of your company if you’re a limited company owner, perhaps the date of your first invoice payment, perhaps the date you won your first client.
Community member Hannah Caddick, for example, has marked the moment this year by creating a celebratory video reflecting on her first twelve months of freelancing, which she describes as an ‘Annual Report’ - which not only helped her reflect back on her first year, but also created an amazing asset to help promote her skills to new clients.
However you choose to define it - marking the day you decided to take the leap into self-employment is worthwhile for a number of reasons.
There’s a myth that ‘most businesses fail in their first year’. The reality is that 89% of startups do reach their first anniversary (ONS, 2019), but that doesn’t make it any less of a reason to celebrate a full twelve months of running your own business. It’s a huge milestone in anyone’s career, and you should be proud of it.
Take the time to look back on the year and count the numbers. How many clients, how many projects, how many words you’ve written, files you’ve created, smiles you’ve generated. How many positive words of feedback and how many successful outcomes you’ve had. It’s really easy to keep your head down and focus on doing the work without remembering just how much we’ve achieved. Write it up and be proud of what you’ve done.
Look back on the projects where you didn’t find success, or where you felt you could have done something different. If there is a common observation you make, is there something you can consider doing to change your approach or a step missing in your process? Were there projects which you’ve learned from and relationships you’ve grown as a result of? And what were the ingredients where things did work? What patterns can you see which led towards better outcomes?
Your Leaperversary is a great time to plan ahead and start to set some new goals - how will you push yourself a little further next year, or perhaps how will you give yourself some more time off? What objectives do you want to set and where do you want to be by this time next year?
Consider your rate card and pricing, and see if it needs increasing. Not only does inflation mean the day rate you set last year might no longer be a good market rate, you’ve also got one more year of experience, and an increased portfolio of work to show for it. Do you need to adjust what rate you’re charging out at?
Treat your Leaperversary as a business holiday, go outside, eat some cake, and make use of the flexibility which self-employment offers!
Whilst you don’t have 25 days of holiday to take each year like perhaps you did in a job, you still need to be taking time off to rest and restore. How are you getting on with time off, do you need to book some in? Were there any periods last year where things were quiet, so you can plan ahead for this year?
Capture all of the wonderful things you’ve done, and send it around to your existing clients, people you’ve worked alongside, and potential new clients as part of your marketing for the next year. Not only does it capture your year to look back on, but it also works as a great way of shouting about your business.
Don’t just keep your Leaperversary to yourself, shout about how proud you are of reaching the annual milestone, and celebrate it with others - your support network will be proud of the marker, and you should be too!
To help you keep track of your own Leaperversary - we’ve created a little tool for anyone to capture their own independence day, so we can help you mark the date and celebrate it with your support network. Leave your details at https://leapers.co/my/leaperversary and we'll not only send you a little note to say well done, but also give you a shout out in the slack community and our monthly newsletter.
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