Rianna Henry has the freelance career she always dreamed of. She’s carved out a niche and a name for herself doing what she loves – but she would be the first to say that freelancing isn’t all glitz and glam 24/7. She runs through the financial reality of working for yourself, and the top tips she’s garnered en route.
Being my own boss is amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have the flexibility I always dreamed of and can pursue so many of my passions – from session work with exciting brands, to educating and of course creating beautiful blow-dries for my loyal clients in the comfort of their own homes. While from the outside this seems like the dream (and don’t get me wrong – it is), there’s a lot of work and a huge amount of admin that goes on behind the scenes to make all this possible; it’s not as simple as just keeping your appointment book full!
When I took the step to work for myself, I had no idea what it involved. I was 24 years old and naively thought it would be easy. But there was so much I had to organise before I could even consider booking my first client in.
Number one on my list was Public Liability insurance, which is crucial as a self-employed stylist and I don’t think people always realise this when they make the move to work for themselves. I still find it incredible how many self-employed stylists don’t have Public Liability insurance, which blows my mind. It’s so easy to get hold of (it’s even included in the FHA membership) and protects you against so much, including claims made as a result of property damage or injuries sustained by members of the public, connected to my work.
Next on the list was organising a business bank account, then finding an accountant and making sure I kept on top of my accounts. Another important job was registering with HRMC – oh and submitting my self-assessment and paying my taxes on time!
Pensions… when I was employed, I had the luxury of my employer paying into my pension, but now it’s all on me! I pay into my own personal pension to ensure I am saving for my retirement. I don’t want to be working way into my 70s!
And forget those expectations of annual leave – as an employee I was of course entitled to paid time off work, but that’s not the case when you work for yourself. I used to find it really hard to take time away from work, as all I thought about was what I wasn’t earning that day and whether my clients would be tempted to move to another stylist if I wasn’t available for them. But as my client book grew and grew, I started to realise I could and (more importantly) needed to take time off. I am much better now at striking that balance – it’s so, so important to take that time for yourself to relax, rest and switch off.
Another reality of being self-employed is you don’t get any sick leave when you work for yourself. I have had a few health scares over the last couple of years, which have meant some enforced time away from work. The first time this happened I freaked out – I had bills to pay and no way of working.
That’s when I made the decision to take out income insurance, which means I am supported financially if I am unable to work because of injury or illness. I’ve taken my health insurance cover a step further and also have life and critical illness cover – this gives me the peace of mind that, financially, I will always be protected.
I know this sounds like a lot, and it is, but after nearly five years of working for myself I have got into a flow when it comes to work admin. All my insurance is through Salon Gold, which keeps it so simple for me – it’s one payment a year and I’m covered. This combined with my amazing accountant means I can focus a lot more of my time and energy into doing what I love which is – and will always be – creating gorgeous and wearable hair for my clients.