My 10th book was released July 27th. It’s called You Don’t Want a Job: Why Self-Employment Reduces Your Risks & Increases Your Rewards. If you’re already a self-employed, it contains loads of information from great psychological resources that’ll make you feel good about your choice, and help you make the most of it. Here are a few of the ideas from the book, which you can buy from us right here.
[S]ince no one else is going to take the trouble of making sure that we enjoy our work, it makes sense for each of us to take on this responsibility. — Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, p. 101-2
Self-Employed Doesn’t Always Mean Entrepreneur
Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.
Some are cut out to be freelancers.
Entrepreneurs want to create. They want to be in the driver’s seat. They do not fear the fires of risk. They like finding new people, making connections. They want to choose their own deadlines and make their own way.
Some folks don’t fit that description. That doesn’t mean they should get a job. It means freelancing instead of entrepreneurship.
Freelancing is hiring out your talents to a number of different people. It’s like having lots of bosses. Except you get to choose them, not the other way ’round.
Working freelance (the word comes from “free lance,” as in, a mercenary who was good at one thing: fighting wars, whoever was paying for it) means you don’t have to convince clients they need your help. Your clients are entrepreneurs who appreciate the skills you bring to their business. They understand you. Your marketing is simpler because it’s aimed at other business folks, not end users. Your pricing is less subjective. You don’t have to set your own deadlines. You know what needs to be done every day.
Entrepreneurs and freelancers get the same benefits despite their different personalities.
You Have Control
One objection I hear to the concept of entrepreneurship is that “you’re just trading one boss for a whole bunch of bosses: your clients.”
Well, sure, if you’re doing it wrong.
Control is not a gift you’re given, it’s a power you wield.
When you’re the boss, you have control over the 4 Ts.
You control what tasks you do.
You control the techniques you use.
You control the time you work.
You control the team you work with.
I can hear you yelling about the last two from where I’m sitting. “My buddy is never around because he’s always rushing to meet a deadline.” “My sister’s clients are all jerks, but she needs the money.”
Covered in my other books, I’ll briefly dispel those here:
If you schedule properly and maintain good client relationships, you should rarely, if ever, be forced to work at a time you’d prefer not to. I keep my goal dates (I don’t even call them “deadlines”) flexible enough that if I want a day off, I can take one. What that also means is that if I wake up at 4am and feel like working, I can, because then when I’m tired at 9:30 I can take a nap.
Working for jerks will make you a jerk. It is an immutable law that we become like those we associate with. Choose clients you wish you were more like. It takes guts to turn down money from someone you don’t want to work with, and I’ll admit to making this mistake more than once — and regretting it every single time.
You do not have to work 88 hours a week, nor do you have to work with jerks. You are the boss. If you work too much or with the wrong people, it is because you chose to, not because you had to.
Autonomy Over Balance
Anyone who always chooses the 4 Ts entirely at their own whim is going to struggle. We live in a complex intertwangled society, as gregariously social creatures. It goes against nature to seek total independence.
Another autonomy is over the balance of autonomy we choose.
When the economy shifts, I focus more on one type of project than another.
When I’m partnering with someone I want to build a working relationship with, I’ll use the tools they’re familiar with, at least at the outset.
When a beloved client really truly needs it now, I usually choose to pull out all the stops to deliver for them.
While I won’t work with jerks, either as my client or as a co-worker on a project, I have worked with folks who didn’t light my fire in every interaction. I’ve asked advice from folks who seem incapable of tact. I’ve read great information in deadly dull books and blog posts.
And every one was a choice. My choice. Choice to balance how much autonomy is right for this time, this day.
A Job Is Simpler
Life is complicated and messy. We tell ourselves stories to simplify it, to get a handle on it, to teach our children.
Oversimplification can be a useful teaching tool, a beneficial coping strategy. It can also fool us into believing that simple is better in cases where it’s not.
Having a job is simpler, tidier, than the messiness of creating your own business, whether entrepreneurial or freelancing.
Even though you know who I am, we’ll say it again, a little differently:
After losing two jobs in a row because companies went out of business, Joel D Canfield resurrected Spinhead, the web design company he’d founded in 1998. In the six years since his last job, Joel and his family have traveled full-time throughout the US and Canada for 18 months, created and refined multiple businesses, and spent nearly all their time doing exactly what they wanted to do instead of what they had to do. Read more about his newly released 10th book “You Don’t Want a Job” at http://JoelDCanfield.com
When Joel and I first met Paula online we knew she was our kind of people. She’s smart, fun and easy to talk to. I hope you enjoy her interview.
1. When did you start your business?
2. Why did you choose to become a Virtual Assistant?
In 2007 I realized I had hit a “brick wall” in my corporate career. I began looking for a new job but wasn’t excited about getting another j-o-b. Then one day I watched a TV news interview of a successful VA out in Montana and realized I could do that! I purchased a couple of books on how to be a VA and with a little prior planning I quit my corporate job and established my new business.
3. What advice would you give new and aspiring VAs?
I have two:
Polish your networking skills and force yourself to get out of the house and meet people.
Do not buy anything at the office supply store until you absolutely have to!
4. What resources have helped you in your business?
I recently read The Commonsense Virtual Assistant and recommend it to new VAs. My local business assistance center and my local chamber of commerce have been a huge help in getting me clients.
5. Share something about yourself.
Being self-employed I tend to work too much. I am not comfortable “just sitting around”. Realizing I need to relax more I recently took a knitting class. It’s the perfect hobby for fidgety people and it gives me the mental break I need.
6. Additional comments you’d like to share.
If you are considering a career change I highly recommend becoming a Virtual Assistant. There is plenty of work for all of us!