corporate America

Screw Your Job, I’m Going at It Alone

What motivates someone to work as a freelancer? I think that it often isn’t an abundance of confidence or any type of a business plan. No, the decision to freelance can be similar to the inspiration of invention- based on a necessity.

Many freelancers go at it alone because they need to. Perhaps they needed to find a job and one suited to their skills wasn’t available. Maybe they are unable to work in a corporation due to discrimination, lack of access, or personal choice. There are even some people that choose to freelance because their abilities are too unique to fit a traditional job role. Basically, freelancers go at it alone because they have to.

Many times I think about what motivated me to start freelancing. Although my current situation is rather new, technically, freelancing was my second job. I began freelancing at The Charlotte Post as a sales person. It was my second job (while in college) after a 1 year part-time career in telemarketing. It quickly grew into a writing position.

At first I didn’t understand the big deal of having my own route, my own customers, and my own tax liability. It wasn’t strange because my father had lived that way my entire life. It wasn’t until my next job in computers that I realized the difference. While beginning my experience in technology sales, I longed for the emotional reward that I received while freelancing.

Working for one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world had its benefits for sure. I received industry training in computer hardware, everyday people considered me an expert, and there were the benefits of course. But, what that job didn’t offer – one that I’d always received while freelancing for the Post – was emotional gratification. I needed the reward from doing a good job, and while my customers regularly gave it to me, my company never did.

I moved from computer hardware, to cell phones, to software, to online retail- all the while staying close to those who’d validate my efforts (the customers). Though my regular jobs fulfilled a financial need, deep down, I wanted something more. I felt like I had a job- I wanted a career.

So I got back into freelancing- only a little at first, then completely at one point while working in event marketing. I was happy, but society frowned upon my decision. Believing I was a failure because I found no joy in my fortune 500 jobs, I tried it one more time… this time staying 3 years- only to crash harder than I’d ever crashed before.

I now know I was meant to be a freelancer- I was meant to explore and build using all of my talents, not just the ones the job entailed. My career was doing what I was passionate about- whatever that may be- and supporting my family with it. Isn’t that the ideal?

I definitely understand that everyone isn’t designed to be a freelancer- but those that are, should give up trying to fight it. I have.

Now, I no longer work; I finally have a career.

 

So I quit my day job…..

So this is my first week as a dedicated freelance writer since 2000. I have to say it is exciting yet terrifying at the same time. Why the sudden change? Well, let’s just say that my body doesn’t respond to a time-clock very well. .. As I have hinted in previous posts, my health is, well, interesting. I knew that I might have challenges going into my full time job, and for years I balanced the rigors of a 9-5; 6-3 and 2-11 shift… It actually came as no surprise that my body won in the end. I was tired and I wasn’t having fun- not that work needs to always be fun- but c’mon why spend your life doing something that makes you unhappy if you don’t have to.

So when my health came into question, and I started to show more and more signs of fatigue. I started to wonder if my day job was doing more harm than help. Could I possibly better manage my health by going into business for myself?

When human resources told me that my inability to hide my discomfort was costing them money, and they couldn’t afford to wait for me to get better, I knew I had my answer. It was time to move on and take the step that I had known for so long I would need to take. I needed to go into business for myself.

I am sure other people have their reasons for going into business. For me it has always been health. There is something about corporate America that I seem to be allergic to. Perhaps its my upbringing. Being the daughter of a small business consultant, I grew up learning the basics of entrepreneurship and had real life successful business owners to judge success by. Sure,  I knew a few successful corporate professionals- my grandfather retired from IBM- but that list was significantly shorter than those with their own businesses. Working for myself was written into my DNA, and every time I tried to do otherwise, my body would flare up in retaliation like I had drank poison.

So was I surprised when climbing the corporate ladder sent me down a rapid free fall faster than my daughter in a room full of dog hair…

(She has allergies.)

I was not.

So while I pick myself up and reorganize my work schedule to fit the needs of my business, I am encouraged by the possibilities in front of me. Much of what is needed for a successful business is time- and I now have a lot of that to go around.