We’re asking members of Crunch Chorus (our free-to-join community for the self-employed) to share their experiences of being self-employed. This week, Ruth Bradshaw – a transformational energy coach and animal communicator – shares tales of working from a log cabin, appearing on This Morning, and leaving egotistical managers behind.
Tell us about your business!
My business creates transformation in people’s lives, as I’m a Transformational Energy Coach and Animal Communicator. I work with spiritual businesswomen and help entrepreneurs connect with themselves, their children and most of all their animals, creating healing and transformation through heart-to-heart connection.
I work with people one-to-one locally in Essex in person or virtually over zoom and photographs. I offer time spent working with people as one-off sessions, as part of an eight or 12-week programme, on my one-day workshops, and at a VIP level over three months. Next year I’ll be offering transformational retreats.
What prompted you to go self-employed?
I always wanted my own business, from my early 20s, but didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I became sick of working for egotistical and uninspiring managers who took pleasure from wasting my time, and all I wanted to do was an honest day’s work contributing to something much bigger in the world as a Lightworker and healer. I have always known that I came here (to Earth) to help the planet.
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome when starting out?
A sustainable business model, or regular income streams as well as cash flow – that changed as I have run several businesses. In my current business, the biggest challenge was getting out of my own way. Some people just think I’m mad, a charlatan or worse – but so what if some people think my work is weird? What people think of me is actually none of my business!
What do you like most about working for yourself? And what do you dislike?
I love the flexibility to choose my hours, to wear what I like and to be myself, set my own rules, my own boundaries and expectations. I have hand-picked the team of people that I work with, all of them are amazing in their field. This, I LOVE!
I don’t like the fluctuating cash flow and poor credit score.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently when starting up?
I would’ve loved to have had three months’ financial support behind me through the early days. The universe, however, had other plans for me and I started long before I planned to, which meant I started with -£1,500 in my bank right up to the edge of my overdraft!
What would be your top tip to anyone thinking about going self-employed?
Do what you love! Then every day doesn’t feel like work; it feels like you’re doing what you were meant to be doing. Some people say having a job creates job security, but that simply isn’t true.
When that employer goes belly up you lose everything. When you work for yourself you have many clients, and if one goes under, you stay afloat.
What’s your biggest success story from your time being self-employed?
That depends on how success is measured and who’s measuring it. When I ran my Digital Marketing Agency, we won awards and were part of Small Business Saturday 100, and went to Number 10 Downing Street. It was a LOT of hard work and I got ill because of it.
In my current business, I have a published chapter in a book, “Living your true story”. I have been featured in the Daily Mail Female Supplement in a double page spread on my work as an Earth Angel or Lightworker (as I prefer to call myself). I’ve been featured in national magazines and national press, which was then published in over 15 countries around the world.
I have also been on This Morning TV with Holly and Phil talking about my work as an animal communicator, which is all media success. Success to me is getting up each day and loving what I do, using my work as a vehicle to express my inner values of spirituality, service, and kindness.
Do you have any pro tips on how to find new clients?
This is a broad question as it really depends on what type of business you have. I found networking gave me 80% of my leads and clients for my marketing agency, which makes sense offering business services to business people.
My current business is more “woo-woo” and not every pet parent wants to use my service. Some of what I do challenges people’s beliefs and while those people aren’t my ideal client, they do attend networking, so I’m looking for less formal women empowerment types of groups, rather than strict business networking.
In my current business, successful strategies for gaining new clients are strategic alliances, as most of my clients come from recommendations – so do your research before anything. It has to be right for you.
How do you find managing your cashflow?
I find it much easier nowadays than when I started and am also running different businesses with the knowledge I learned along the way. In this business payment is upfront, my costs are low and I religiously look at my numbers each week and then do a financial review and forecast on the 1st of every month.
Sticking to my boundaries about payments upfront and being disciplined about reviewing progress and doing a forecast each month really makes a difference.
What did you consider when calculating your rates?
What I am worth, how much I’ve invested in myself, my own unique skill set, my time and of course the transformation that my customers go through.
Do you work from home or in a coworking space? How do you find that work environment?
I mainly work from home from my garden log cabin and I LOVE it. I didn’t realise until I started working from home just how much I need that space to focus on my work. I attend monthly networking groups for business connection and moral support, as well as my own online communities.
How did you find the transition to self-employment?
Mainly a breeze – I was surprised when I did it that it had taken me so long. I ran my therapy business part-time for eight years before launching a marketing agency full-time for five years. I fully stepped into full-time therapy work and nothing else in January of this year, so it has only been 10 months so far in this business and nearly nine years of self-employment. I absolutely love it!
Yes, you do have to wear many hats (I suggest outsourcing as much of the stuff you dislike or are rubbish at ASAP) as that frees you up to focus on what you love.
If you want to share your experiences of being self-employed, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org, or why not join our supportive Facebook group to chat to friendly freelancers.