Friday, June 28, 2013

Being Your Own Boss Is Not All Rainbows and Butterflies

Does being self employed have it's perks? You bet but it's not as easy as some may think.  And those who are self employed and actually make money, actually work.  We don't just sit around and watch TV all day, although that's what many seem to think.  Most of the time when I say I am self-employed, a freelancer or my own boss, I get a look from people like "oh so you don't have a job" or I get an enthusiastic response of "you're so lucky!" Am I lucky? Heck yes! But being self employed has it's own obstacles and difficulties.

You need to be disciplined, I mean really disciplined.  You have to get work done with all the distractions in your home.  Whether it be doing the dishes that piled up or the fact that the awesome book you just bought is sitting on the coffee table.  And one of the biggest distractions nowadays is social media. Since a lot of my work is on the computer it is hard not to navigate to Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to take a quick break which could possibly turn into hours of personal enjoyment. This is a hard one for me because a lot of what I have to do is social media marketing so I need to make sure to stick to specific tasks when heading to those sites. And there's always the temptation to go shopping, go to the beach, go to a friend's, etc. and there is nobody telling you not to. You must keep your eye on the prize!

You do it all, at least until you are established enough to hire employees or an assistant.  When your computer or printer isn't working or a particular computer program or website isn't working as it should there is no IT department to call to fix your headache.  You need to figure it out yourself or spend hours on the phone with different customer service centers.  Not fun and you need to make up for the hours you spent dealing with this technological problem.  When there's a complaint you cannot just pass it along to your boss. You need to deal with the client and think of a solution that keeps both parties, especially the client, happy.  Thankfully, this happens very rarely for me so I don't lose that much time doing this but it's a headache when it does happen. One thing you will learn when in business for yourself or not even being in business for yourself, as good as your service or product is there is always a handful of people that will have something to complain about. The self employed wear many hats and need to be good at all positions.

I am always on call.  I could have worked all day but due to the nature of everything I do I get many emails and calls in the evening and on the weekends. Some have the attitude that they work Monday-Friday 9-5 or whatever hours they establish for themselves and if they get an inquiry out of those hours it can wait until the next day.  I get it, I do but it's so competitive you could lose the gig because you replied the next day when someone else replied immediately.  I know if someone really wants you they will wait for your response but then there are people who don't know what they want, contact several vendors and sometimes their decision just comes down to who got back to them first. I was guilty of that with my wedding.  I contacted a few photography vendors and loved all of their work but I went with the one that I spoke with first. Some others finally contacted me and everything sounded great but I already booked with who got back to me the fastest.  This is why I choose to answer emails, messages, phone calls during my "off hours."  That being said, I completely understand why some people don't choose to do so.

And here is the BIG difficulty and this doesn't apply to everyone who works from home but I know it applies to many women. One of the main reasons I wanted to be able to work from home was that when I had children I could stay home with them.  Well, my daughter is now a toddler and already seems to be in her "terrible twos" stage even though she is only 17 months. She is into everything and has an attitude when she isn't getting my constant attention. It's hard to get work done while chasing and entertaining a toddler.  Because of this I often need to wait until my hubby gets home to start my work which means I am often up until 2am getting stuff done and then need to be up at 7am with my daughter and the cycle starts all over again. It's exhausting!!!

I am not trying to throw a pity party but I just want people to know that the self employed DO work.  Am I grateful to work from home? Absolutely! I worked extremely hard to get myself to this point. I had a full time job with a printing company for many years while I busted my booty building my other businesses.  Because working from home certainly has it's perks: I get to be with my daughter, I can work in my pajamas while doing office stuff such as returning emails and doing online marketing, you don't have anyone keeping tabs on you whether you were late, left early or took a long lunch, I can make doctors appointments during their regular business hours, not have to take off to go to the DMV, I can decide to go to the beach during the day if I choose to stay up late finishing work and so on. So I wouldn't change a thing except the perception that some people have about us work at home individuals.

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