Sometimes being self-employed can suck balls.

Seriously. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now. I’m telling you that if you’re an entrepreneur and doing the whole self-employment thing, and you haven’t yet thought that sometimes it sucks balls? You will. Prep yourself now, m’love.

Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have, and I’ve always come back to it. Re-inventing my work, myself, my goals… see – that’s the bit you might not be ready to hear. Unless you’re launching some giganto-super-amazeballs product that no one in the world has ever thought of, and you’re in round two of private VC funding? You’re going to have to reinvent your work, yourself, and your goals. A lot.

I know, I know… you’re so ‘passionate’ about what you’re planning on doing for the rest of your life, aren’t you? You just eat, shit, and breathe being a coach or artist or whatever, huh? You firmly believe in the motto, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” don’t you? Well, while the debate on if that line came from Confucius or not will go on forever, you my dear will learn long before then that it’s still work. And sometimes, the work is going to make you love ‘it’ a little less sometimes.

Again – I’m an artist in my core. I LOVE making things, regardless the medium, and yes that includes everything from my pencil and paper to the full suite of Adobe products. So do I LOVE what I do? Absolutely! Does it ever not feel like work? Absolutely! Is it like that all the time? Do I swirl blissfully through my pristine mansion, laughing merrily at all the deposit-made-into-my-account-notifications whilst drinking expensive coffee and dunking my favorite biscotti? Hell no.

If I’m going to be honest, much of 2015 has sucked balls in terms of business. I wasted a LOT of the year working for a company as an independent contractor where nothing about the job lit me up. Like, at all. In fact, the only reason I stayed with it was for the steady income, even though that steady income wasn’t nearly enough money to care for my family. What happened? It stressed me out because I had minimal time to build my own business up from where it was, and when I would get a client, I would stress out over not having enough time meaning I would send my daughter off to her grandparents just so I could do the extra work. Which made me resent the extra work. AND the contracting job. And not seeing enough of my kid. Get where I’m going here? B.A.L.L.S.

My house is FAR from mansion-sized, and it’s absolutely everything opposite of ‘pristine’. I once found a jelly blob on the floor under the cat dish. I have zero idea how long it’d been there, but I do know we’d been out of jelly for at least 3 months.

Alright, enough of that. Here’s my point:

When you’re in business for yourself, you HAVE to take risks and be willing to do other work than what you always thought you wanted. Because food.

Back in August I chose not to continue my contract with the ‘steady pay’ place, and really focus on building my business back up. I’d decided that I really wanted to do courses and coaching for creative entrepreneurs. Artists. Writers. Photogs. I did a zillion free coaching calls, helped half a zillion people, and was paid nada. None of them hired me to continue on, because guess what? They all had this ‘starving artist’ mentality which was only going to keep them starving artists. They didn’t take risks.

It’s important to be quite the flexible person while remembering that structure and boundaries are absolute requirements. It’s why artists tend to have agents and business managers – and not coaches – so they can do what they love, when they want. It’s a creativity trade-off, because most artists are very free-spirited and resist being confined to anything resembling structure of any kind. Which is perfectly okay, and quite relatable, in fact. But doesn’t make for good business. Or money. Y’know, that thing that helps us eat and keep a roof over our heads?

So what does an artist do when they have to make money, and don’t want to trade time for dollars in a stuffy corporate cubicle? They build their business to include creative outlets in a way that allows them to do ALL of the following:

  1. Continue being an artist, with creative expression.
  2. Utilize their knowledge (technical, marketing and sales, copywriting, whatever) to convert their creativity into something that pays the bills.
  3. Build a business with the two above that allows for more time and flexibility to take care of the important things (important to them and their families) like showering daily and moving the cat dish so you can sweep and mop like a normal person.
  4. In addition to the important things, the business model should also allow for ‘down time’ where the artist can continue to create art just because it’s what their soul needs. Because it’s who they are. Because they can’t resist getting covered in paint, or clay, or fabric clippings. Because it’s something they have to do in order to remain sane.
  5. Continue to grow their business in ways that makes more money in less time. Trading time for dollars blows. (Yes, that was two separate references in the same post. I don’t blame you if you’re disgusted and want to unfollow me. It’s okay, I won’t be mad.)

So yeah, in order to be an entrepreneur of any kind, you’re by nature a creative person. So all of the above applies regardless if you’re a painter or a copywriter or a novelist or a dude who invented a cool app that tracks how many steps you’ve taken in a day. It doesn’t matter. Entrepreneur-ism REQUIRES creative people. So yes, this does fit you, Ms. Receipt Tracker App Creator.

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Why the rant? Because I’ve been listening to my heart lately a lot more than I think I have in a very long time. And I came to the conclusion that 2016 means a huge shift in the way I work my business, because it’s important to stay true to the things that are really important. I’m not messin’ around, gang. You’re gonna see this whole shebang as it morphs and grows and changes. So hey thanks… for sticking around for it, because part of what makes my work feel less like work is when I know I’ve struck a positive note in someone else’s heart. Today, I hope it’s one of you.

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