I’d been trying to do this for years. And given my recent employment changes, it finally dawned on me that this was the best time to go out on that limb and become my own boss. How do you go from almost guaranteed compensation through a traditional job to championing being self-employed? That is something that I have just recently asserted as being the ideal choice for me and where I am in my life and career.
At the age of thirty-three I look back at my relatively short life and am proud of the accomplishments that are behind me. I have earned five college degrees and have already had a career that was over a decade long. I know that not many people, and even less who are my age, can make that claim. However, when I reached a monumental crossroads in my life a few months ago, I used it as an opportunity to assess what I was doing with my life and which path I would choose in this new phase. Nothing lasts forever, well, except for death and taxes. But you only get one life and it’s best to at least attempt live it to your personal fullest.
My husband was disappointed. Even now I still see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. To him, I was throwing away all that I had and all that I’d earned to lead a new life and existence of obscurity and poverty. No matter how talented or strong that I was, he felt I was giving up on “finding a job.” It hurt at first, him questioning my decision, me knowing that it would mean big changes for us. I was conscientiously deciding to end my search for employment and officially throw myself into making my side business my primary one. Rather than feeling conflicted about it, it felt like the first lucid decision I’d made in my months of despair. I knew that it would be hard but I also knew that I was my biggest supporter and that I had the internal drive to do it. And while there have been many days that leave me stressed and worried, I remain realistic and determined. I know that I wouldn’t immediately step into making the income I someday hope to. In every job I’ve had and even now, I willingly put in the time and energy that is needed in order to achieve my goals.
Arguably, this is the best time to go into business for yourself. Love it or hate it, the arduous task of building a business from the ground up is lessened by knowing that there is now a national health insurance option for those who want and need it. I honestly wouldn’t have taken the leap if it wasn’t for having enrolled in the Marketplace before the end of my prior health insurance coverage. Granted, it was a bit of a reality check, but there was at least that piece of mind in knowing that my health didn’t have to fully suffer offered a little relief. Even a little of that is needed when embarking on committing to your own business. There is also a lot to learn when going it alone. There are a number of free online and information-rich resources available at your fingertips that can assist in understanding the steps to becoming a sole proprietor. It is important to note that we all have to start from ground zero and that you are guaranteed to make mistakes along the way.
Like any big life decision or change, the better prepared you are, the better you will be in accepting the ups and downs of the process. I’m not yet an expert in running my home-based administrative services business. But what I have been able to do, in large part due to my librarian background, is seek out and process a lot of information. What they say is true about the early stages of having your own business, you put in a lot of grueling hours just to see it grow. I’ve been blessed in many small ways in my short journey thus far. I’m building a client base and am learning which projects that I want to pursue. I’ve come to learn that there are things that I enjoy but would really simply prefer doing recreationally rather than professionally. This is something I would not have learned had I not made this decision.
I love the freedom I have in working fully from home. I like that in theory I can set my own hours and make myself available to my family when I need to. But I also know that with no sick or vacation leave compensation that I have to really love what I do. Even on the worst days I’m happy that I’m doing what comes naturally to me, that I’m able to capitalize on my strengths and avoid, for the most part, my known weaknesses. Plus, I’m learning something new about myself and what it is that I truly want and need. I tell my husband quite frequently that it’s never been about the money for me. It’s about loving what I do and in actualizing the joy that I get in learning more about the things that I enjoy doing. I may not yet have the income that I once had but even in knowing that there is no guarantee to ever attaining it or more again, I know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing with my life at this phase and that, well, that’s priceless.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 6/25/14 issue of The Union-Recorder.