The Downfalls of Being Self-Employed or, “Lara’s Bad Day”

I’ve got so much damn work to do, but I feel like I have to put this post out there, in order to get this out of my head. I’m feeling frustrated today, and am opening up about it.

People talk about this all the time, how it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, being self-employed. There are a great number of posts about it, in fact, check it out.

But without even going into those lists, or worrying about if I’m replicating some of them, here are my current beefs with it:

1. Your friends and family don’t care that you’re working. Okay, so that’s harsh. It’s not that they don’t care, but they tend to forget that just because you’re sitting at home in your pj’s, that doesn’t mean you can drop what you’re doing and talk to them on the phone, run to the store, fix the laundry, or whatever. When you “ignore” their calls, they get upset with you. If they haven’t voiced their upset, they just keep calling and you know damn well they’re just not getting it, and you feel guilty.

2. You have to wear a thousand hats in life and work. I’m a daughter, granddaughter, girlfriend, best friend, an “aunt”, niece, maid, cook, shopper (both grocery and personal), business owner, “fire fighter” (in the figurative, aside from being a member of a fire department), community manager, blogger, writer, crafter, artisan, sales person, web developer, customer service agent, consultant, accountant, and about 978 other things. I’m tired, a lot. Things get lost, things get forgotten. I feel guilty.

3. Organizing your time takes time. There are few things in life I’m “OCD” about, and some things only rear their ugly heads when I’m feeling frustrated or out of control. I’m a planner. I like to sort out my day and then scratch things off my list. When things come up, I get flustered and stressed out about not having enough time. When I start feeling like my to-do list is so damn long I’d rather sit and play “Bejeweled” on Facebook than tackle it, there’s a problem.

4. Giving up tasks to others isn’t as easy as you’d think. One of the basic rules of increasing your productivity is to delegate tasks to others. I’m kind of a control freak, I think. I want to be the one doing everything, because then I know it’ll be done my way. Yes, I’m chuckling to myself as I write this, because I know how absolutely absurd it sounds to feel this way, but it’s true for me. The times I have asked others to do something for me, it either doesn’t get done quickly, or at all, or they do it once and then don’t do it ever again because let’s face it, the task sucks in some way. (Which is why I didn’t want to do it in the first place, right?) The hardest part in all this though is money. I hate asking people to do something for me unless I can afford to pay them to do it. Sometimes that doesn’t pan out well, and even though I know that it’s worth paying someone to do something so I can focus on bigger tasks, if the money’s not there, it’s not there.

5. Money. Money, money, money. People often assume that self-employed biz owners are wealthy. They also assume that if you’re not wealthy, that you suck at your job. The truth is, when you’re self-employed you don’t get paid vacations, paid sick days, paid benefits (do you have ANY idea how much individual health insurance really costs?), 401k or other employer-contributed retirement plans, and much more. You also have to pay more taxes than someone who is employed by a corporation. Then on top of that, you have to deal with non-paying clients, paying for (in my case) software or hardware upgrades, travel expenses and other allowances often covered by an employer.

6. You never leave work. This goes back to #1 up there, but the bottom line is that I spend a LOT of time “at work”. Sure, I’m home in my pajamas, but I’m “at work” from 630am until either something distracts me from it (in which case I’m still “here” but just away from my desk) or until I go to bed. Stepping away from the computer to make dinner or go toss in a load of laundry makes me feel guilty for leaving my desk. Heading over to my mom’s for a cup of coffee is an emotional struggle with myself. Let’s not talk about the last time I actually left the house work… I think it was the day before yesterday, to run to the pharmacy. Plus, since I’m actually running two businesses, where one requires me to be on the computer but the other doesn’t, even when I’m not online, I’m usually working. At home.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE what I do. (I feel like that should be ten times larger type than it is.) I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I wouldn’t go back to working for a corporation unless it was an absolute necessity (like, if I had kids and this self-employment thing wasn’t cutting it). I love the people I know, my clients, the interactions I do have, and all the benefits that go along with working from home like saving on gas and food expenses, not having to spend money on a particular wardrobe, dealing with co-workers or a nasty boss (though there are elements of that at times in any business)… I do love my career. There are just days where it all comes down on your head and you have to vent, so here I am. Please, forgive me? :)

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