It has now been just over a year since I started my own business. I have been reflecting upon that recently, and thinking about how much has changed since that time. I remember the five months before I started the business, I was working at a frozen blueberry factory in the microbiology testing laboratory. Although I was glad to have found a job at the outset, since I was living in the middle of nowhere and very worried about even finding any sort of job, it was undoubtedly the most boring and thankless job I've ever had, and I hadn't been paid so little since the early 1990s, which was simply soul destroying for me. I spent my days in mindless drudgery, wondering how on earth I could get myself out of the mess in which I'd found myself. Those were dark days indeed, and I had trouble getting out of bed in the morning to face another day.
When I was offered the opportunity to work on a major writing project, with a payoff that would last me for several months of bills, at a rate that more than tripled the factory pay, I made that decision - it was time to make that leap. As my father said, it was a "bold decision" at the time, but it was necessary. It was not only a financial improvement, but it was necessary for my mental health. I was drowning in a pit of self-pity and anxiety, made worse by a dead-end job and badly damaged self-confidence.
I thought when I started out the business that I'd find work that was pertinent to my former life as a patent agent - assuming that I would fit in somehow as an intellectual property writer and researcher, doing work for small companies or Pro Se inventors. I also thought that most of the work I'd end up with would be related to agriculture or at least the biological sciences, since that was also my strongest area of experience and knowledge. I was wrong about both those things! It has turned out that my writing skills have led me into new areas that I didn't really expect to work in, supplemented by other skill sets that I acquired along the way in my career. Now, much of the work I do is based on helping small companies achieve ISO 9001 status, meaning that they follow a set of quality guidelines established by the International Standards Organization. I also have done work for the offshore industry in oil and gas, primarily pertaining to health, safety and the environment. I've edited a self-help book, done some grant proposal work, and am also doing some risk assessment work as a subcontractor. I even have a website that you can visit if you wish - just click my logo below!
In the year's time since I started, I have developed a regular client list, and in the past 8 months, I have surpassed the "small supplier status" here in Canada, which means that I need to charge sales tax to my clients now. For a one-person small business, that's not too bad for the first year. I've learned a lot about running my own business and the up-and-down nature of freelance work. I haven't been able to do as much with repairing the house as I'd like to have done, but progress has been made. Most importantly, I'm a happier and healthier person with a far better outlook on the future. I never thought I'd run my own business in the past - it just wasn't something I'd considered. Now, I have a lot more freedom and a lot more power to make my own decisions, which has been very beneficial in helping me heal the wounds of the past.
In fact, by the spring of this year, I was able to begin to re-examine my personal life, which has taken me on another significant journey, but that's a story for the next blog post, so you'll just have to stay tuned...