For years, I’d thought I never wanted to work for myself because I didn’t enjoy what all that responsibility looked like. No one to tell me what to do, no motivation not to mess up, putting all my eggs in one basket.
Yes, sadly, I thought I preferred the dredges of working somewhere I didn’t particularly feel passionate about and being the best at whatever position into which someone else felt it appropriate to squeeze me.
I’ve worked as a server and bartender (for more restaurants and longer than I care to admit), at a university Writing Program, an ice cream store, a computer networking and repair company, a law firm, a chiropractic office, as a personal assistant, and a ‘quality control’ manager. Not in that order.
I’d made my way ‘up the ladder’ of these businesses only to look down, see how far I’d climbed, and say, “Nope. I don’t feel like going up anymore.” I’ve turned down so many offers for top-level positions, it makes my head spin. And everyone wondered why.
I didn’t want that much responsibility.
Only when I stopped worrying about what I was going to do next and how I was going to find ‘the perfect job’ did the universe bash me over the head and tell me, “Hey, take this one. Be your own boss.”
Thank the Writing Gods I listened!
Working for yourself isn’t for everybody. Heck, it wasn’t even for me until I was ready. But I absolutely love it, and I’m convinced I’ll never go back to work for someone else again. It’s like moving out of your parents’ house, making it on your own, and doing everything in your power to keep making it so you don’t have to go back and try to comfortably fit all your stuff in what once had been your bedroom – and is now a storage room.
I am my own boss!
With that comes a glorious realization that I get to call all the shots, make my own hours, be accountable to only myself (yes, and clients), and nobody can fire me. I also have to do all the work.
What’s the point of this story? Working for yourself is hard. There’s a lot of trial and error, a lot of experimenting with what works, a lot of time invested and attention paid to how to improve in every area.
This applies both to my business, KLH CreateWorks, and to my career as an Indie Author. Admittedly, being your own boss as an Indie Author feels more overwhelming than as a business owner. And I know a lot of Indie Authors who struggle with that overwhelm, too.
I heard from a client the other day that she was freaking out about her cover designer. She’d booked the cover in October to be finished in January, and it still hadn’t happened. She’d taken her career in stride – planned the cover reveal, a tentative release date, done a bunch of pre-marketing she was set to scatter all over the world, and was only waiting on that cover. And it still wasn’t done.
The one thing she said to me that really stood out was that she “felt like she’d lost.” Like being an Indie Author is a competition, and if you’re not perfect, you’re out! Of course, I felt super compelled to slow her down in her freak-out and remind her that that’s as far from the truth as possible.
As an Indie Author, this is not a competition. This is not a game with a set of rules or a win-lose situation. This is what we do. It applies to Indie Authors, business owners, entrepreneurs – anyone who creates something out of nothing and does that for a living.
So you work for yourself. No boss breathing down your neck, no deadlines for things which turn your brain into a soggy mush of goop. No droning 9-5 hours with the minute-counting anticipation of clocking out and going home to your real life. And you can’t get fired.
You’re your own boss. You call all the shots, and yes, everything is up to you and in your control. Both of those things are terrifying. When we work for someone else, we don’t have to deal with that terror. Everything’s already done for us – get an assignment, do your job, get paid, move on. That’s it.
Those of us who have left that world are in for a wild ride. We have to meet people, find other professionals to add to our craft – designers, illustrators, editors, formatters, beta readers. Sometimes things work out. Sometimes they hit pretty gigantic gaps in the road. And what do we lose? Time, maybe a little money, some excitement and confidence sometimes. But we keep going, because those obstacles only make us better at what we do the next time around.
So take your time. Be proud of your work. Accept the imperfections and learn how to work with them. You’re in control now, and you got this! If you work for yourself, in my opinion, the only way you can “lose” is if you give up completely on your dreams and intentions. And then, the only person who really beats you is yourself.