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The Pros and Cons of Self-Employment for a Design Business

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David Airey shares the pros and cons of being your own boss from his first seven years as an independent designer.
This chapter is from the book

Before I started, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Plenty of people told me that ahead of time, most cautioning me to spend more time as an employed person before becoming self-employed.

My first serious thoughts about going it alone came when I was in employment and sustained a nasty ankle injury playing football. I took time away from the office, but could still easily get the job done from home. I realized I didn’t need to be commuting to work, but my boss wasn’t keen on remote staff, so I began contemplating life in a home studio. It was around a year later when I finally made the switch, serving my notice in employment, but securing my previous employer as my first retainer client.

One sort of very important advice that I neglected to seek out was talking to someone experienced in the design profession about the ups and downs of running a design business. You need to have the advice of others before you make the jump. A particular lesson I quickly learned on my own was that in order to be successful you need to really want it, because if you don’t, there are a thousand others who’ll step up to the plate, a thousand others who will win the clients before you can say, “What’s your deadline?” My eyes weren’t as open to the fact as they could’ve been. I’m sure more experienced designers would have helped prepare me for the workload I was letting myself in for.

But you’re not talking to someone else right this minute. You’re reading this book. So to give you the insights I didn’t have, here are some of the pros and cons from my first seven years as an independent designer.

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