The Self-Employed Rollercoaster

Updated Feb 17, 2024 | Posted Feb 14, 2021 | Professional insight, Business | 3 comments

As a decorator, from the moment you decide to go it alone until you retire, you’re on what I like to call, the self-employed rollercoaster.

Let’s face it, in a strange sort of way, it isn’t a proper job is it. You don’t have an employer; you can’t guarantee you’ll have work and you make everything else up as you go along. There are always going to be doubts from time to time due to the uncertain nature of our job.

Not just that, but if the success of your work life was recorded on a graph, there wouldn’t be single straight line on it!! One minute you’re flying, the next you feel like jacking it all in and becoming a gardener.

There’s so much pressure too!! Dealing with these problems as they arise whilst there are a dozen other things going on. Staying on top of quoting, keeping in contact with every other client, cash flow, insurance, staffing and the like. It is relentless.

There are absolutely loads of things that can go wrong. First there are the things out of your control like nightmare customers, none payers, delayed jobs, f**king builders, bad weather and a million and one other things!! Then there are the mistakes we all make from time to time. Jobs running over, mistakes whilst pricing, breakages, forgetting to make an appointment, taking too much on and so on.


If you let this pressure get to you (which we all do at times) and lose motivation, or start to become unorganised, then it feels like you’re drowning! You’re not on your own, we all feel this on the self-employed rollercoaster. It can be hard going and if you’ve tasted it, then you will understand why it is too much for some. Mental health issues can easily take hold.


So Why do we Bother Going Self-Employed?


The other side of the coin is amazing. When things are going well and it’s all down to you, there is nothing more rewarding. Sometimes things just to fall into place and seem easy. You can make great money as a self-employed decorator when things are going well. You’re your own boss, in a trade you love and you make peoples’ homes look absolutely stunning with your own two hands. I couldn’t imagine working for someone else now. I’ve been self-employed over 10 years and most of the time I love it.

So, if you are thinking about taking a ride on the rollercoaster, then what’s stopping you? If you are self-motivated, organised, and have a bit of something about you, you’ll love it (most of the time).

Starting my own business gave me confidence. When I started, I was scared to even talk to customers. Now I see myself as the expert and I control every situation relatively well. I’m happy in my work, and I want to keep momentum to be the best I can be.

The Self-Employed Rollercoaster – by Mike Cupit


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Updated Feb 17, 2024 | Posted Feb 14, 2021 | 3 comments


  1. richard

    You hit the nail on the head Mike..

    You can make great money when things are going well.

    They just dont go well and to plan as much as they should..

    We are seriously undervalued and too much estimating against handymen types.
    People do seem to forget we can go 2x as fast as a handman on £4 a hour less..

  2. Calum

    Absolutely nailed it with everything you’ve said there. Rollercoaster is the apt word for it.

  3. Jason Renwick

    You summed it up perfectly Mike, I’ve been a self employed decorator for 12 years and it hasn’t been an easy ride. It’s amazing when all is going as it should. You just have to learn to take control of the situation when things turn a bit crazy.


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