Self Employment: It Ain’t All Roses
I spent the first half of my working life working for others. It gave me a fixed schedule, a solid income, a predictability and a right to complain bitterly when things went wrong because it was not my fault.
If I miss a day, there could be a back up. If I went on vacation, there was a cover up and if I play a little golf one afternoon every few weeks, no damage was done.
Then, it all changed. No, I wasn’t fired. I didn’t blow up on the job. I just realized that this is all there was for the rest of my working days if I stayed doing this. So, I was instantly self-employed which in the early days means unemployed but not looking for a job.
The ideal was to be my own Boss, to do my own schedule, to work my own hours, to tackle things that interested me for a change, to have freedom to do what I wanted, to keep what I earned. It was the best decision I ever made. And the second half of my career has been by far the better half but it ain’t all a bed of roses.
Here is one Rose I missed: Coffee breaks. When I worked, every few hours, I wonder over to the water cooler or down to Second Cup and chat about whatever was happening with the Leafs or the Jays or the Argos and grump a bit about the company. It was a mini catharsis 3 or 4 times a day that gave a vent to frustrations and work cubicle fever. Working for myself, there is no Grump Team to escape with.
Here’s another Rose I missed. There are no cheerleaders. When after committing energy, time and effort and things go well and you have a mini triumph, the Rah-Rah guys from the neighbouring offices are no longer there. Having a beer by yourself is not much fun.
A major Rose loss is the inability to complain about your employer. Unless you develop multiple personalities, the winner is always you and so is the Doofus. In and each crash dive, you are the pilot. The art of self-criticism needs to be mastered quickly.
I lost several Roses when all the "round tuits" were taken away. Priority, work like accounting or book keeping or filing or mailing or social media management had to be done immediately and any effort at a "round tuit" led to a pit of misery that could take weeks to dispel.
I also greatly miss the Rose of a second opinion. Bosses can be problematic but often, you can go in and talk about an idea and certainly not get any advice but just in having talked may clarify your thinking, Tough to do that with a mirror.
A major lost Rose was the illusion of busy, busy, busy. Working for yourself, neighbours, idiot younger brothers and collapsed married sister all think you have time to sprint to their assistance with your truck which you bought because you are now self-employed. You don’t have any ready excuses such as “you can’t find time out of work”.
A missing rose is definitely status. You move from Vice-President of Urges Barges Incorporated to Chief Flunky in a completely unknown start-up that most describe as “I have no idea what he does now. He’s doing something though”.
Other things to consider. Your banker now hates you. Your dog sneaks to far corners of the house to avoid your antics when you lose a sale or a contract. Your suits hang in the closet accusing you daily of slipping to bag lady status. Your family look at you anxiously as they speculate on soup kitchens, food stamps, and food bank hand outs.
But for me, I would never trade working for myself with working for the “Man”. The satisfaction of creating your own job based on your own interest is just too great to miss if you have the chance, the idea, and the courage.
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