Since this blog is technically “new”, I’ll move some of my favorite archived posts to the front from time to time.
I talk a lot here about the benefits of working for yourself, and yea, I admit, it’s a pretty nice gig overall. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, either. There are some drawbacks, and I’d be remiss if I did not mention a few of them. Keep in mind these are more slated towards me and people like me (basically a one-person or very small operation.)
- It’s hard doing everything in relation to your business. For example, I answer my own phone, and I answer all e-mail (I know you are saying “big deal”, but really, these two tasks eat up a lot of time. I’m getting better at reducing the time spent, but still, it’s a lot. )
- In relation to the above, guess who is responsible for all marketing and such… like adwords, updating the website, blog posts, business forums (gotta keep up a presence), etc? Yup, me again. And increasingly, these tasks are far from the “set it and forget it” they were a few years ago. Your website needs constant work. Your adwords needs attention. You need to write a blog. A few twitters won’t hurt. Etc. This all takes time. Truthfully, you get very few actual days off. The only time I ever really take off are my vacations, when I totally unplug. Otherwise, it’s generally seven days a week. Admittedly, I try not to do client work on weekends, but I still do the e-mail thing, I still work on the site and my marketing, and I’m writing this very blog post on a Saturday. It never really gets shut off.
- Us smaller operations are very vulnerable to the economy. Right now, I am working harder than I did two years ago, for about the same (and maybe even a little less) money. In an overall sense, the jobs (and invoices) have gotten smaller, there’s no doubt about that.
- We’re also very “exposed” in terms of competition. Here’s what I mean by that… my brother-in-law owns a popular local jewelry store. To compete with him, you really kind of need a million dollars to open a competing store. What do you need to compete with me? Some writing talent, a small website, and enough $$ for a few adwords ads… am I leaving anything out? The barrier to entry for us small businesses is minuscule. That’s, of course, a good thing for people starting out, but it’s also not so great for those of us already here, as I just illustrated.
- There’s also the “grow or die” thing that all businesses seemingly must adhere to. If you aren’t moving forward, then you are moving backwards. But… maybe I’m happy where I am. Maybe I don’t really want to grow. Maybe I don’t really want to hire other writers and juggle 10 projects at once. I’m at this point right now – do I want to stay (essentially) a one-guy shop, or do I want to expand? See, staying a one-guy shop will be hard, because of my third point above (smaller jobs, more work, less money). But growing… that’s scary. What to do? I really don’t know the answer, so my first inclination was to actually try and combine the two by growing the “Dan Furman Brand”, so to say. Which is what I’m going to try (that’s what this new website is for.)
I left out a lot of stuff, obviously, but the above should give you an idea that working for yourself is by no means “easy” (as some people have told me it must be.) In fact, I wish sometimes my life was as simple as showing up to some job Mon-Fri, collecting a paycheck, and not even thinking about work during off hours. I’ve done both, and working for yourself is way harder. I like it better (by a good deal), but it’s by no means easy.
Goodness, that felt good to write 🙂