As the sun rises today, I will be celebrating my 7-month anniversary of the day I woke up a free man for the first time in my life – from the bondage of having “The Man” over me. With all of the negative news around about the economy, taxes, “change” politics, and everything divisive, please use this as your own personal encouragement to aim high for yourself and know that you can make your own difference.
February 3rd changed so much for me:
- Our livelihood became directly related to how hard I worked and my success at operating my brand . How many times have you been on the clock wishing your pay was directly related to your effort and value to your organization? Unless you’re commission-based or get direct profit-sharing, you hardly see a dime for going above and beyond. No matter how much gets done in a day, there’s more to do tomorrow, right? Now I can see a direct correlation in our bank account based on how gung-ho I am at the beginning of the month (not including accounts receivable from some clients that use Corporate to pay on a net 30 term). I’d probably double our money if I got gung-ho twice per month.
- My stress level skyrocketed and plummeted daily as it has never done before. I felt like the whole world was on my shoulders one moment and relieved to not be asking permission to do things, anticipating co-workers’ reactions to my decisions, or the dreaded sin of being misunderstood for the billionth time in my life. If good intentions and a valiant effort was the ticket to success as an employee of any level, we’d be president and CEO/COO many times over, but life ain’t fair like that. Take time out to go get a Smoothie or work from the Barnes & Noble cafe over a root beer and Rice Crispy treat. Enjoy your new freedom to keep your stress in check.
- Be prepared for snafus with your insurance at some point. We’d already been on COBRA for several months when we hit a paperwork snafu and lost that coverage. Great thing to happen to someone with cystic fibrosis, I know, but it happened. By 4pm that day, I had an application with a check for the first month’s coverage in the mail for a conversion to an individual policy. It was approved and had an effective date of our cancellation day, so no lapse in coverage and no pre-existing condition issues (though they did mix that up in their computers for a second scare). You have to know your stuff when it comes to insurance to live this way. Corporate benefits are great, but you can earn your way out of that trap designed to keep you happy while you’re miserable.
- Ask friends who run successful, long-time businesses for a recommendation for a CPA. I spent a good 20-30 hours sweating over figuring out my first estimated payment in April. My CPA walked me through about 20-30 questions that my research into my books made quite easy to give me answers to. Twenty minutes later, I walked out the door with payment slips to send in quarterly and he told me to come back in November or December to get a check-up for any adjustments to my last payment. I’m actually looking forward to seeing him again. If I have to pay more taxes, then I had a really good year.
- Be sure you have a strong marriage if you’re married. If you’re dating, well, you’re about to find out how much you can weather as you take on crazy ideas, hours, moods, cravings of comfortable things, and more. I could have done better communicating my feelings for that first month because so much of my life was in turmoil all at once. If it didn’t involve healing myself from my job loss, things would have been smoother, but by no means smoothly.
- There stands a pretty good chance that you haven’t put enough thought into your business model or specific policies that your business needs. For me it was all about pricing my work, setting guidelines to help clients determine what they even wanted me to do for them as a WordPress guru, payment policies, timeline expectations, sheesh… looking back, I’m surprised my first 60-90 days were as successful as they were. I had one major customer lesson that I learned, have still only had one non-paying client, and have fine-tuned my trade with each customer experience that didn’t exactly go as I had pictured it in my mind.
- Certainly not the least of these is that being your own boss is FUN! I know it doesn’t sound like it after all of that reality I just spewed, but it’s the best part and best parts are always meant to be saved for last. In June, we were able to take 10 days and travel to Ohio for my grandparents’ 60th anniversary. I worked off and on for a couple of hours at a time while we were there, but nothing that made me miss any activities or neglect anyone. I think Facebook was a far bigger family distraction around the table than anything business-related. After that, we went to the beach for 3 days with my in-laws for a mini-vacation where I didn’t do a lick of work because I didn’t want to pay $12/day for Internet access at the hotel. Did we suffer in the pocketbook? Not at all. Now we just have to wait for my wife to accrue more vacation time, because I have all of the time in the world.
So if you’re thinking about taking the plunge and starting off on your own, now you have some straight talk from someone who’s done it. It’s not all good, but it’s sure not all bad. Be sure to visit my site and my portfolio at JessePetersen.com if you’re interested in taking advantage of my experience starting a business without an investor or going into debt. I can help you make your site work for you!