I am the best boss I’ll ever have.
I worked in the corporate world for 15+ years and became very familiar with all that entails — long hours, being permanently attached to my computer and phone, and truthfully, putting my job before my family. About 18 months ago a friend talked me into joining a prominent skin care company “on the side,” and despite reservations, I did it. And before long, it had the awesome side effect of showing me that working for someone else for the rest of my life was NOT the only option I had.
This is not a story of how I suddenly retired myself and my husband through direct sales. It is the story of how I realized that maybe the work life considered “normal” in America just wasn’t going to work for me.
After an amazing five month “break” in Canada (more on that here), I realized that what I really wanted was to be more in charge of my life. I knew it would take work, and more than a few prayers, but in early April, I finally took the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever made. I applied for a business license, created a website, printed some business cards, and re-started my professional life as an Independent Meeting Planner. Suddenly, I’d joined the official ranks of mompreneurs, owning two businesses of my very own.
As far as being a boss, I’d give myself a solid 10. There are no limits to the number of school events I can attend, no dress code to adhere to, half days on Fridays, and if I want to take a exercise, walk the dog or meal plan, that’s totally fine, as long as my work gets done. There are no company-wide retreats, meetings or conference calls. And I have an unlimited bank of vacation, so long as financial goals for the quarter have been met.
Before you think “it must be nice to not have to work,” let me say, I HAVE to work. Our family finances require both of our incomes. And that leads me to the downsides of being your own boss.
I am responsible for my own income. And that is terrifying. Luckily, my husband’s job provides our benefits, so that is one less stress. But I’ve got to bring in the business, and sales has never been my strength. Conversely, the feeling of receiving a check that I earned 100% is amazing.
I do not have anyone else in the company to bounce situations off of. That said, I’m grateful for my professional organization; my membership allows me access to all sorts of colleagues and friends in the industry who support me.
My industry requires a lot of travel. But now, I have the choice of which trips to say yes to, and can schedule around the kids’ school or athletic functions.
As my husband put it the other day, I’m the IT person, admin support, office manager, human resource rep and VP of marketing, all rolled into one. Some days I feel like I’m putting more hours into running the company than I am doing my actual job.
Some suggestions, if you’re considering doing this yourself:
Diversify! I’ve worked hard to expand my client base and my skin care business is my back-up, just in case a slow month happens.
Have a plan. This is advice I wish I had taken. Instead, one night at 11pm, I just decided I was “ready” and went for it. I’ve had to do a bit of catch up work that I could have avoided.
LinkedIn is your friend. Update your profile regularly. Post and engage — professional colleagues will notice and see that your new business is serious.
Market yourself. Take some lessons in social media. Learn how to talk about yourself (trust me, it takes a while to get comfortable doing this). Be willing to ask people if they need your service and ask your network for referrals.