Sometimes I laugh gently inside my head, when people share their conceptions of “working from home” or “owning your own business”.
Unless you have ever run your own business, I suppose from the outside the gig looks like a posh thing. Something that is “easy” or manageable always. I know rich men who have wives that have businesses they thoroughly enjoy, because they are not concerned with profit or loss. In the last week I was speaking to an executive who told me that his wife runs her “little photography business” because she always wanted to be like Annie Leibovitz. He doesn’t give a shit if she makes a profit doing it, as long as she is happy and preoccupied. I think his exact words were “with her pretend business”.
Am I jealous? Kind of. I mean, she gets to pursue her passion, and anytime she needs a new piece of equipment, hubby ponies up. She is not under the same pressure to grow, because her income does not rely on the success of her business. Okay, I hate the bitch. (Not really I don’t know her).
Back in the real world, and planet grind, running my own business is both a source of pride and frustration for me. No, I’m not really my own boss, I have six bosses and their staff that I serve, which is about 26 people I correspond with on a weekly basis, set up conference calls, Skype video collaborations, etc. In addition to that I write social media posts for nine brands and businesses on multiple channels weekly, and write content for their blogs, design brochures, write email drip marketing campaigns and more. That is for my contract clients.
In addition to my contract client work, I take content projects on the side, paying anywhere from $25 to $50 per article. I’ve been blessed to build some long-term business relationships for content buyers who award me 10,000 to 15,000 extra words per week. Roughly 15-30 independent, researched authority blog articles. Where have you seen my work? The Huffington Post, Search Engine Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes and many other locations. It just has someone else’s name on it, which is fine for me. I’m more of a “behind the scenes” kind of worker ant.
A business coach has told me to get in front of the camera and let some of my extroverted, energetic side out, and start a podcast because apparently, I have a voice that people enjoy. I bought the podcast equipment and software, but it gets shuffled to the bottom of my laundry list every week.
I’m doing well with my business, and grateful to have the clients that make my job fun, and pleasurable. They are great people, and I prefer long-term relationships with clients, rather than grabbing at every piece of business, leaving a trail of hostility or bad blood behind me (as many of my peers do). The cash grab isn’t worth the shot your reputation takes for screwing people over, by charging too much and not delivering. I take a slower build approach to my business, and while I am guilty of undercharging and over delivering (this from a CEO I work with in Florida) I rest knowing my clients never question the value they receive from my services. That’s as close to “job security” as a freelancer can get.
And then every once in awhile, I wake up with very sore hands and wrists. Today, I couldn’t make a fist with either hand, and that worries me. A sign I am writing too much and not charging enough (guilty). And the first email in my inbox was from a recruiter in Dallas. Yes, $90 – $115k sounds really good. So do the benefits. The four hour daily drive? Not so much. The cost of gas, lunches, travel expenses (this job requires trade show and event coordination) … they add up. And when I do the math, I’m not further ahead lifestyle wise or financially.
I still work the “rat race” I just drink my own coffee when I do it. And then there is the matter of this black fur little pot roast at my feet. In December it will be two years after the Vet said we should count our DAYS with him. It’s been a year and a half after that already, and he’s still trucking, barking and begging for treats. I know that’s because I am home with him to take care of him.
The choices we make with our hearts honor our needs more than the choices we make for money.
Working in my business from home was a challenge this summer, as we had the twins on a full schedule. Do I feel more like a step-mom now? Yep. Totally, because they drove me bananas, despite their sweet intentions. Kid’s don’t understand the meaning of ‘quiet’ or ‘minimal interruptions’ or how hard it is to write 10,000 words in a day. I didn’t lose my cool though (with the exception of a few times where one of the twins needed some discipline). Even then, my discipline is fierce: “Turn off the Xbox, grab a book and read on the couch quietly. When you are done, I’m going to ask you questions about the book.” Or times table work. Math is punishment for me, it should be for them too, lol.
(We’re totally in trouble when they hit algebra… ruh roh). #TutorTime
I miss wearing suits and high heels. I miss power lunches and board room meetings. (Sometimes I wear high-heels around the house so that my feet don’t forget that I like them). I miss the illusion of financial security via a bi-weekly pay stub. Did you know that an employer in Texas can fire you at any time, for any reason, with no recourse? Texas puts business first, but not employees, and so my business is really just as stable and secure as anyone in a salaried position here. At-will employment rules are really similar to everyone being contract labor, with benefits mind you. They just don’t ever think of it that way.
This blog has helped loosen my fingers this morning. It’s nine to nine, and I am ready to hit my work day, knock down my email to the mandatory “under twenty messages in my inbox” which is the “Lori sanity rule”, and write some awesome things that make people look like marketing superstars. Other people, but not me.
But you know, I own it like a boss. For the victories and losses, for the exciting fun times and the really hard times, this business is still a victory for me. Because I fulfilled my dream to earn a living from my writing. And I’m nowhere close to quitting that dream again.