Monday, December 30, 2013

Owning My Own Business, Year 2

So. It's now officially been two full years since I quit my corporate job and went freelance full-time.

After the first year, I talked about all the hats I didn't know I was putting on by starting my own business. I've gotten good at wearing a lot of hats. I still like being in charge of every aspect of my business. But one thing I haven't become great at? Being my own boss.

I'll preface this by saying, I'm my only employee. (I mean, Elliott lays around my office and is cute, but I don't pay her nothin' for that. When she learns how to file my receipts or bring me my afternoon popcorn, I'll happily give her a raise.) But even though I'm a team of one, I'm still not the best about being a good boss to myself. It all comes down to this: unlike working at an office, I don't get paid just for showing up and clocking in. It's all about how many projects I'm working on at any given point in time.

And right there's where my inner boss turns into a real bitch. Sometimes, there just isn't enough work. Anyone who has ever freelanced knows that things come in ebbs and flows — sometimes you're inundated with so much work you feel like you'll drown in it, and sometimes you wind up re-decorating your office because you just can't think of anything else work-related to do. And I've never been good at having too little to do. My self-esteem took a big hit when I underwent my first bout of unemployment from my first real big-girl job, because I equate my value as a person with my ability to support myself. It doesn't matter that I cook six nights a week, or do myriad other traditionally wifely tasks — if I'm supposed to be earning, and I'm not, I feel like nothing.

And so, when things slow down — inevitable every once in a while — my abusive inner boss-lady takes over. "WHY AREN'T YOU WORKING HARDER TO FIND NEW WORK?" I am. "WHY AREN'T YOU DOING ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE?" I'm trying. "YOU'RE NO GOOD, WHY DON'T YOU JUST QUIT?" I can't. "YOUR FAMILY IS GOING TO BE SO DISAPPOINTED IN YOU. YOU'RE LETTING MATT DOWN. EVERYONE THINKS YOU'RE A FAILURE." I know.

I'd "come home" from work and cry on Matt about what a mean boss lady I am, and how I'm sorry that I'm a no-good, disappointing failure. But the problem is that no one else thinks these things about me. Matt doesn't believe I'm a failure. (Elliott doesn't either, so long as her food bowl is full and her litter box is clean.) I'm just projecting my own insecurities all over everyone else.

So my goal in my third year is to be a better boss. To not beat myself up if the feast-famine cycle veers dangerously close to rice-and-ramen territory. Because it doesn't do me any good to bully myself. I'm proud of what I've accomplished overall this year. I've gotten to do some really fun work with some great businesses and individuals. I don't want to let all that be overshadowed by self-doubt.

What are your work goals for the new year?


  1. This was a really interesting post! Before I had children, I always worked, and at one point, I taught in three different capacities (so basically three different part-time jobs) at the same time. I was still home a lot, and I felt the same way you did. I think, as women, we put so much pressure on ourselves, and I'm glad you are focusing on cutting yourself some slack next year. I follow a lot of freelancers online, and everyone talks about the feast vs. famine issue, so you are definitely not alone. I hope you have a really fruitful 2014!

    1. Thanks Catherine! I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself.

  2. what a lovely goal- i think we could all be a little easier on ourselves when it comes to work- it just feels like there is so much pressure to constantly improve and perform. at the end of the day, however, we've just got to remember the ebs&flows are part of the game. happy nye :)

  3. Congratulations on two years of having your own business! I think that is quite an accomplishment. I think a lot of women tend to put too much pressure on themselves (myself included). Good luck with cutting yourself some slack in 2014! Sometimes it will be easier than others but you seem to have a good head on your shoulders and I think you can do it.

  4. I think you are amazing for supporting yourself (and Matt!) with your own business! I hope you can find a better balance over the next year and not be so hard on yourself.

  5. I think it’s okay to be a bitch boss to yourself. After all, you won’t get too far if you don’t push yourself hard enough. But don’t torment yourself to the point where you don’t know how to have fun. Celebrate your accomplishments and make it an inspiration to do better. Cameron @

  6. It's really nice that you've put up your own business. And wow. It has been two years. That's really great. Congratulations. Just don't be too tough on yourself, after all you are your own boss. Ain't that cool? Well, good luck on your business. I hope it continues to prosper. :)

    John Bergman @