How to get out of the self-employment slump

Every self-employed person on the planet, at some point or another, has felt like packing it in. Putting yourself out there is hard. Showing up to work every day and having somebody tell you what to do within the confines of your specific role is one thing, but being a one-person business, especially in a creative business feels very different.

Your successes and failures feel personal, it’s up to you to generate ideas and motivate yourself to implement them. When response rates or results aren’t what you hoped, you’re the only person who can pick you back up and push you along. It’s no wonder, then, that at some point or another, self-employed types start to feel discouraged and lose momentum.

So, if you’re self employed and on the verge of giving up, how do you push through your slump and come out on top?

Coffee swirls Himalayas India - Darling Lovely Life blog

Even an hour in a coffee shop can really help to clear your head

Leave the house

Desperation never generated results. It’s easy to panic and slash your prices or start trawling the Internet, frantically searching for new ideas, or worse, sit there in a panic thinking about how to change your entire business model, but you won’t find any answers. Instead, put down the computer, or whatever it is you’re doing and leave the house. Score yourself an invite to the latest party for your industry, have a coffee with someone else who’s in your position, or just go for a long walk.

A field full of daisies in Henley-on-Thames England - Darling Lovely Life blog

Sometimes you just need to see something that inspires you


Find someone who’s at a similar stage in building their business to you and whose work you love and meet up for a coffee. Think of a way you could collaborate – perhaps they could guest write a blog post, or you could work on a shoot together or even a new product. Sometimes you’re in your own head so long that putting your heads together can make all the difference.

Have an ‘other business blackout’

The worst thing I can do when I’m worried about my writing (and yes, we ALL get insecure about our work sometimes) is to go looking at other blogs that have been around for years before me. Their level of success is incomparable because it didn’t happen overnight. So next time you find yourself panicking that another business similar to yours is doing so well, remind yourself that you can’t expect to emulate their success right away, nor should you.

Death Valley California - Darling Lovely Life blog

Find your own little oasis and stop comparing yourself to everyone around you

Take the pressure off

Sometimes, thinking that something you’re doing is the be all and end all is a huge amount of pressure. If my blog was the only thing I was doing with my life, I’d never get out of bed – I have a lot of projects on the go, mostly paid and some just creative and for fun. That way I know that I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket, which leaves me feeling a lot more free to power ahead with what I really want to do with the blog!

There’s something for everyone

Just because what you’re doing isn’t making a big splash doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it. It can take a long time to find your customers, especially if what you do is quite niche, but once you do, things will really start to soar.

Cows love Agonda beach Goa India - Darling Lovely Life blog

Find somebody to look up to who’s been through it all before

Find a business inspiration

My mum is an aromatherapist, and a damn good one. When we were kids she started her own business. Like any new business it was slow at first, and the Internet age was only just starting. Without a big backer and marketing budget she relied on fairs, leaflets and word of mouth to let people know she was there (and the phone book, remember those?). It would have been easy for her to give up in the first couple of years, but I’m glad she didn’t and I bet she is too.

After getting the word out, everything changed. My mum’s massages are SO popular that almost every time I call her she’s with a client. I’m talking all day, evenings, weekends – she actually literally could not be more busy unless she worked through the night. I saw her go through all the stages a new business goes through in MUCH tougher times than this and I saw her succeed. I’ve never told her, but that’s where my self belief comes from. As corny as it sounds, she did it – she proved to me that if you have talent all you need to back it up is perseverance. I’m not sure she’s even had time over the years to turn around and go “holy crap I’m a success”, but most successful people don’t. So find yourself a business inspiration and think of them every time you’re in a slump.

The most important thing is that you don’t give up when it feels like you’re constantly dragging yourself uphill. Like anything in life, once you hit that sweet spot, you’ll be glad you stuck it out! 

5 Comments on How to get out of the self-employment slump

  1. Lizzi mills
    April 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm (5 years ago)

    Thanks for this – made me feel much better!!

  2. Kate
    April 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm (5 years ago)

    This is just what I needed today! Thank you!

  3. Ali
    April 22, 2014 at 12:51 am (5 years ago)

    Great article thank you, just what I needed to read this morning! Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement.


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