Today is exciting. I’m up early to start my new job. It is the first time in 10 years that I’m a full-time employee, complete with salary, benefits, and paid vacation.
Prior to this morning, I was self-employed, either outright on my own as a corporate contractor or as a behind the scenes supporter of Husband #2’s business.
Self-employment is interesting, exciting, creative, crazy, and rewarding. It is also draining, worrisome, and unpredictable. But mostly it is all-consuming.
Being your own boss is living a life devoted to your business. Just like a newborn baby, self-employment requires constant care and feeding and 100% of your attention. Little else fits into your life as you work over and over to bring in new clientele, while keeping the existing clients happy. And unlike a human child, the little business you’ve brought forth will likely never grow up and be self-sufficient.
The dream of starting, building, and then selling to Google or Microsoft or MegaCorp is lovely, but doesn’t necessarily happen for all small business owners. There’s a better chance of winning the PowerBall lottery than collecting a big buyout check or celebrating an IPO.
Hobbies, love, personal projects, house cleaning, family, relationships, socializing… all of these things go out the window as you work endlessly to get your venture off the ground. And then those same things suffer as you keep your business afloat, always wondering if there will be enough work and profit to pay the bills of the future and support the very things you have pushed to the side.
You become your business.
It’s draining. It’s grueling. It’s crushing if you don’t set very strong boundaries down in the very beginning and stick to them.
Today is exciting because I’m no longer the one who has to worry about marketing, sales, taxes, complaints, long hours, and profitability. I’m a cog in the machine and the pressure is off. My weekends and evenings are no longer committed to other people and their schedules. My downtime belongs to me.
It’s a big day for me.