Every once in a while I think, "Wouldn't a corporate job be nice?" You know, the kind where your paycheck is the same every week and you get a bonus once a year, and stock options and an annual holiday party? Then I remember that while I've loved my previous jobs, I love being a solopreneur even more. At this Thanksgiving season, here's why I'm thankful for my current situation.
I'm the boss.
Now granted, I have no direct reports, but I don't have anybody above me either. I don't have to worry about sucking up to a boss to get the good projects (clients are a different story). I get to make the decisions that I think are the best ones. If I want a day off, I can grant it to myself. It's pretty awesome.
I have power over my own destiny.
Now, this is actually true about people who work for others as well, but many people don't realize how much power they have. I get emails all the time from people who are desperate to get away from a horrible work situation but haven't even considered looking for a new job. What they want is for the other people at the office to change so they don't have to.
As a solopreneur, I recognize that what I do is my choice. When I'm working on an especially difficult project, I recognize that I took this on. I could have said no. I chose this life. I chose this project. I chose this client. It's an empowering feeling.
All my eggs aren't in one basket.
I spent over three years running layoffs for a pharmaceutical company. During that time, I participated in the layoffs of literally thousands of hardworking people. While some were chosen because they were rotten employees, the vast majority were awesome, but in the wrong position at the wrong time. When we notified an employee that today was his last day, we just took away all his eggs. Suddenly, your income is yanked out from under you. The company I worked for offered generous severance (minimum of three months, often more), but then that was it.
As a solopreneur, I've built a business that has multiple clients. If one should decide that my services are no longer needed, it will be a blow, but it won't be my entire income. Likewise, if I decide to stop working with any of my clients, I don't have to replace my total income, just what I get from this one client. It gives me all sorts of freedom.
My schedule is flexible.
Last week, one of my friends needed some help. I said, "I'll come over." As long as I don't have a meeting scheduled at that exact moment, I have perfect flexibility. I can prioritize how I need to prioritize. I can attend my children's school activities and then work after they go to bed. I don't have to check with a boss and worry about how it's going to look to my co-workers if I'm ducking out again to go to my German class.
My income isn't bound by HR rules.
Lots of companies have rules like "With a promotion you can have a maximum 10 percent pay increase" and "You've maxed out in your payband, so you can't get a raise this year." I understand these rules. Heck, I enforced these rules for many years. But now, I'm not subject to these rules. In the past year, I've increased my pay by 50 percent. Take that, HR rule makers.
How did I do it? Well, by working a lot harder. Seriously. If I work harder, it's easier to attract clients. If I do great work, the clients want to recommend me to their friends and they want to contract for another project. If I don't do great work? Well, that's my own fault, isn't it? No one to blame but me.
Should you be a solopreneur?
If you had told me seven years ago, "Quit your corporate job and become a writer!" I would have laughed at you. There's no money in that! But then life happened and I needed a job I could do from home. If I can do it, you can do it too.
That's not to say there aren't downsides. For one, invoicing stinks. For another, there's no one to blame if things go poorly. Also, if you work from home, sometimes people think what you're doing is a hobby instead of a career. And building a client base can take time. But, if you are an independent soul who doesn't mind some risk, it might be the place for you.