In my previous article, The Realities of Running Your Own Business: Do you have what it takes?, I painted a picture designed to show you that it’s not all roses when you run your own business. I got a lot of great feedback from business owners who liked the article because it showed that the realities are far different than what people expect, especially people who work for someone else. Many employees think running their own business is a piece of cake, but as I outlined in that article, all you’re doing is trading one set of challenges for another.
On the flip side of that coin, however, there are some real benefits to running your business that are not so easily found in the cubicle. Business owners will probably tell you that thing they love most about running their own business is freedom. And I can tell you from experience that it’s freedom that gives me certainty that I made the right decision leaving the cubicle. Once you’ve had a taste of that freedom, it’s hard to go back.
Freedom by definition: I do what I want, when I want, the way I want. Sounds nice doesn’t it? Do you have freedom in your current job? Are you allowed to work when you feel like it and take a day off every time you want to? Are you allowed to set your own hours and pick your own projects? Are you allowed to adjust your schedule to easily see your kid’s perform in their play? Are you allowed to get up and leave work early with no consequences? Or do you have to get permission from another human being to go where you want when you want? Do you have to get your freedom on evenings and weekends? This is no way to live.
Years ago when Steve and I were working for his company, Dexterity Software, we were filling up the car with gas one morning on our way to work, and I said, “Screw it, let’s not go to work today. Let’s go to Disneyland!” He looked at me, I looked at him, and we both realized we could actually do this. Giddy with delight, we got back in the car and went to Disneyland. And we had the best day ever! I think it was a Wednesday, in October. No lines. Lots of fun. Not one single regret, and not one single “excuse” we had to give our bosses for our absence.
Freedom. It’s a right, not a privilege.
When I write a blog article it’s because I feel like writing one. I get to wait for inspiration to strike. When I feel creative, I work on a new product or project. When I feel mentally or creatively drained, I just answer email or return phone calls. And when I need time off, I just take it. I hit a movie in the afternoon, take a 2 hour lunch with a girlfriend, or go shopping. No guilt.
The only aspect of my work life that restricts my freedom a little is having so many reading appointments. I set up my clients with appointments weeks in advance due to the high demand for a reading with me. So when I put a name down in my book I know that I’ll be doing that reading on that day, at that time, and that’s it. But I’ve learned ways to cluster schedule my readings so that I get a bunch done at once, leaving the bulk of my month completely at my disposal. I love doing the readings so it’s not really a chore. Even though my freedom seems restricted, I’m also free to stop doing readings or alter how many I do in a month. Completely under my control.
With freedom comes discipline. I can’t take EVERY day off or soon I would have no blog, no readers, and no clients. With freedom comes fiscal responsibility. I have to make sure my business is earning money and that my cashflow is positive. If it isn’t, no one is going to bail me out but me. With freedom comes vision. You have to be the one to direct the course of the business. No one is going to hand you a project to do and pay you no matter how it turns out.
Running your own business has its difficulties and challenges, no doubt about it. But the freedom… ah the freedom, that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, eager to show the world what I’ve got, to contribute, shine, and make a difference… in my own way, in my own time.
I finished writing this article before breakfast. If I wanted to, I could be at Disneyland by 10am. Could you?