Money's Too Tight To Mention

What a difference a week makes.

Last Friday I had to get up early to present the Breakfast show on BBC Radio London with Penny Smith, so at 6am we were ready to go with stories of the latest political posturings, terrorism threats and advice for staying out of trouble at Christmas (photo below). But by 6pm, I was in another country doing something completely different.

I was in Holland in a hall, opposite the Ajax stadium, and I’d left the world of news behind to be on stage with Mick Hucknall and Simply Red in Amsterdam, interviewing them for an invited audience ahead of their gig.  

And a week later? As I’m writing this I’m waiting in my house for a gas engineer to arrive and fix our boiler. “No sir, we can’t give you an exact time. Somewhere between 8am and 1pm.”  Who said showbiz was all glamour? Whoever he was he must have been mucking out in a circus.

Being freelance all my life, I’ve never known what it must be like to have a steady job, five days a week, a forty hour working period when I would know that the next day’s employment was assured, a salary coming in at the end of the month and a Christmas bonus anticipated next week. I’ve never had sick pay, don’t have a company pension, and I can’t join an employee benefits scheme. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it.

For anyone who has just lost their job and is facing the freelance world of work, let me reassure you. It is fantastic, varied, friendly, well paid, international if you want it to be, and lots of fun. But you do have to work at it. Networking is essential, business cards must fill every meeting like fresh air, and you must never think the word “No” is an embarrassment. It’s a sign that better work lies elsewhere.

I’ve met many people over this year who are setting up their own businesses – in fact my wife has done just that – and it is undoubtedly a lot of hard work, but being your own boss is such a bonus. And whether we like it or not it’s where the labour market of the future is headed, with working from home becoming more and more necessary.

But, I promise, you’ll never be bored.

This week I’ve done everything from interviewing the Osmonds through to talking to an international client of mine about the new UK Slavery Act 2015. In between I’ve coached a CEO for a Media appearance, presented the Breakfast show again, interviewed the Bishop of Reading, and started my Christmas shopping. How many of you with steady jobs managed that, slightly bonkers, variety this week?

So, as we approach Christmas, if you’ve lost your job, or you just fancied a change and you’re setting yourself up as a freelance, good luck to you. The future’s what you make it. Head down, business cards at the ready, resolve to go for it from January 1st, don’t forget to get yourself a private pension, and you’re good to go. 

The best of luck.