A business can’t exist without a human to inspire it.

How becoming self employed has changed my life

Since becoming self employed in 2018, things have changed immensely. But, things started to change in 2016 when the idea of working for myself really started to seem like the right path.

I’ve never had much confidence in myself, I overthink, I undervalue myself and I’m just not great with decision making. Or so I thought. The last four years have been like a roller-coaster. I’ve had that light bulb moment when I suddenly knew this was what I wanted to do. I’ve done courses, questioned every decision I had made and then I got pregnant in the middle of it all, just to really spice things up. As if I wasn’t feeling uncertain enough, pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones really got me under a spell. I reached a point where I felt like I was a complete failure and I was in shock that my business wasn’t booming after 6 months with not a huge amount of effort. Go figure. I’ve had so many ups and downs in the last four years but particularly in the last 2.5 years. I’ve grown and birthed a human, breastfed him for over two years and I’m still surviving on broken sleep and caffeine. All of this while trying to build a business from scratch and learn about the business world at the same time.

My background is working with children, they fascinate me (less so when I’ve had less than 5 hours sleep but that’s why they’re cute) and I’ve always had a passion to make a difference to children’s lives. I worked as a child minder, pre-school leader and childcare worker before I stumbled across a course called ‘Forest School Leader Training’. I was instantly interested in what the course consisted of and the week of practical skills and hands on earning was a week that I will never forget. I met people I would never have usually spent any time with. I learned bush craft skills I’ve always secretly wished I could do and I came home every evening utterly exhausted from it.

Fast forward six months and I’m doing a Start Your Own Business course through Roscommon Local Enterprise Office and another two months after that I’ve entered my business idea into Leitrim’s Best Young Entrepreneur Awards. I was networking, learning, connecting and drowning all at the same time. All of this was way over my head and I had spent my life just kind of drifting through what was expected of me. I had reached a point where my parents or teachers weren’t pushing me to do my homework or fill in that form. I was on my own. I was free. I was lost.

I ended up coming Runner Up in the Best New Idea category but I didn’t go to the awards ceremony. Why? I just decided that I wasn’t going to get anything and mainly, I didn’t want to go alone and have to talk to people. Talking to people. I hated it.

Throughout this whole process I was being told how brilliant my business idea was, how innovative and unique it was. I was shocked every time and honestly, I didn’t believe them. I couldn’t see past my own judgements and criticisms of what I was doing.

But, I was doing it. On some level, I knew this was a good idea.

In 2017, I went to work in a creche while I was pregnant because I couldn’t imagine facing into setting up a business while I was incubating a precious life that drained every ounce of my energy (not much has changed since then). When my maternity leave finished and I had handed in my notice, I started my official journey as a self-employed mum. I hid from a lot of things, I hated making calls and stuck to emails (we all know how useless emailing can be when making contact with someone for the first time) and generally making excuses and justifications for not pushing myself harder.

In 2019, I did a group course with a life coach and it has changed my perspective in so many ways. It opened my eyes. I felt like I had just been given glasses and I was able to see clearly for the first time in over 20 years. My life before that course was mostly out of focus. I gained clarity, confidence and a true sense of me through that course and it has impacted every aspect of my life. In the last couple of months, that work has been reiterated through my own self-improvements and personal development journey. My work on myself has improved my work on my business. By figuring out my values, I’ve been able to hone in on what I want to achieve through my work. I’m starting to live more in line with my values than ever before. My life now, is what I dreamt of and what I believed I never would have. I’m living how I’ve always wanted to live. I feel positive, excited and worthy of the belief others have had in me from the beginning. I believe in what I’m doing and who I am.

Every single thing that I’ve felt or done has served me in some shape or form and I am so happy that I took the plunge to work for myself and although, I may still be working my way through website design and digital marketing plans, I believe I can be successful in my business for me and my family.

Since 2016, I have built up a reputation with my workshops, I love writing and sharing my writing with others, I enjoy being on camera and get excited about a challenge. I’m still tired and often question what I’m doing but now I have a belief in myself and my actions that I never did before. By working on me, I created a better business because I am and always will be the heart of my business. I am the most important thing about my business. If someone else was running it, it would be different. That’s not to say, I won’t delegate jobs and tasks but I will be remembering to focus and invest in me (and future team members) because a business can’t exist without a human to inspire it.

We all have a story to tell and a message only we can portray. Each and every one of us has a different set of filters and values so no two people will ever experience something in the exact same way. The more we share, the more we lighten the load for others to carry.

For me, becoming self employed has changed my life.

Jessica O’Rourke | Mud Bugs

Jess, mother of one, lives in Leitrim and has worked with children her whole working life. Jess set up Mud Bugs in 2018 as a way of connecting children and families with nature.

Mud Bugs offers courses and workshops for children and families to connect them with nature and support their physical and mental well-being. Jess has trained as a level 3 Forest School Leader in the UK and has invested a lot of time and energy in creating a philosophy that benefits more and more families in Ireland.

Jess wants to educate, motivate and support families and professionals to connect with nature to reap the benefits it has to offer.





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