When I first moved from a corporate job to building my own business, I naturally fell into the trap of accepting any work that came my way for fear of not knowing where my next paycheck would come from. This was great in that it broadened my horizon and experience as I would accept work that was outside of my comfort zone. However, when I stopped to work out how much I was earning factoring in preparation and travel time as well as the time I was with my clients I realised that sometimes I was earning less than the National Minimum Wage.

With this new perspective, I started to become more selective with my clients and when I would say yes. But then I found myself scared to take time off for holidays, focusing on how much it would cost in terms of lost earnings. Sound familiar? As we hit the holiday season I have been talking to a number of colleagues and clients and this appears to be a consistent fear faced by those working for themselves.

Here is how I've got comfortable with it. It’s about looking at the bigger picture.  I find it’s important to remember my ‘ WHY’. Why I decided to quit a very successful corporate job to set up my own business. My ‘Why’ centered on wanting to spend time doing something I enjoyed, to help add value to people’s lives and perhaps most relevant in this context is also about having greater freedom when, where and how I worked. If I continue to say yes to opportunities without giving myself the time to step away from my business, spend time with those important to me and look after myself am I going to be in a better situation? I fear not instead of corporate burnout I will be a lonely business owner with burnout!

If you work for yourself and are building your business here are three techniques I have implemented to help me feel more comfortable about not earning money while I am taking time off, whether that is to enjoy holidays, time to look after myself or spend time with those I care about. We know that in order to be effective in our careers and businesses we need to have our respite, you’ve probably heard yourself say something similar to your clients and friends so why are we not following our own advice?

Create a Debit and Credit Holiday Account – I have my standard weekly appointments, anytime I accept any additional session this becomes a credit in my holiday account and conversely anytime I need to cancel a session or in the case of my Pilates work find cover this is a debit. By looking at it across a year I become more comfortable that I either have holiday credit or have time to make it up.

Plan for it - At the start of the financial year I work out how much I want to earn in my business. Based on what I know is likely to happen; new things I want to try and aspects I plan to stop I identify a realistic income goal. I then break this down into a weekly and monthly figure so I can monitor my progress. But before doing so I consider how much holiday I want to give myself a year, for example, I have allocated a total of 4 weeks for this financial year which means I will be working 48 weeks. To understand what my weekly goal looks like I need to divide it by 48 weeks. This enables me to understand if my income goal is achievable and spreads the cost of my holiday over the entire year. When it comes to planning my holiday I can relax with the knowledge that it is already taken care of.  

Smoothing out the peaks and troughs – If your work isn’t consistent it can be useful to measure your progress on a bigger scale. I measure my earnings based on what I have actually earned in the week/month and also the average. By looking at my average I am able to take into account the peaks and troughs, and therefore if I am still on track with my weekly average I can chill with that knowledge and enjoy my time away.

Now you’ve got the money side taken care of make sure you plan the time off, you owe it to yourself, your business, your clients and your loved ones!