I Love Working for Myself- I Hate Working for Myself

When I started my first company my then partner and I used to joke that the best thing about working for ourselves was that we could eat lunch anytime he wanted to — as long as it was on our desks.

Our reality at the time was that we worked most waking hours because we both really wanted the business to take off. This meant that we didn’t spend a lot of time hanging with our friends, going to movies, or even taking naps on a Sunday afternoon. There was a lot of sacrifice, most of it self-initiated, based upon the belief that we kept working hard we would eventually be able to grab that gold ring.

Ultimately we had a number of great successes and some pretty illustrative failures. We never did get to the point where we sold the business for millions of dollars or were raking in cash so rapidly that we had a different sports car for every day of the week. Instead, we made a living and generally enjoyed the hell out of what we did every day. We eventually closed the business down so that we could both pursue other opportunities and neither of us have regrets for that decision to this day.

Since then, I’ve been part of five startup companies (three of them my own) and when I look back on the heady, early days of my entrepreneurial life I can’t help but notice that every hour I spent working toward reaching my goals was an investment in everything I would do for the rest of my life.

It taught me how to deal with setbacks and disappointments. It taught me how to get over the fear of selling my services to others. It helped me better understand how business works and how to create value you can bring to the market. It taught me how to focus my energy so that I can achieve my goals.

I love working for myself but I also hate it.

The bottom line is that self-employment is hard. It’s probably a lot harder than having a regular day job. For one thing, few entrepreneurs can tell you what their salary is until December 31 of every year. Not only that, but cash flow is often so erratic that you have to factor in big paydays against months with low or no paydays. Often, the idea of taking time off for vacation seems the antithesis of sanity. After all, if you don’t work you don’t get paid.

Add to the list difficult clients, getting paid late, technical challenges, having employees, scope creep and other realities of doing business and there are days when you truly long to work someplace where other people make decisions and give you a paycheck even if you don’t give them 100% every day.

So why do I still work for myself? Because, whether it’s obvious to me daily, what I do gives me the best shot to be the master (or mistress) of my destiny. The simple reality is that if I fail it’s because of something I did or didn’t do to make myself successful. Working for somebody else doesn’t automatically mean things are easier or more secure. I’ve been downsized in the past because of changes in the market, changes in management and just cause.

But the main reason that I continue to work for myself is that it allows me to work toward meeting my goals and visions every day. To me that’s the whole point. Getting rich would be nice and being incredibly successful is always a plus but waking up every morning and being able to look forward to what I do for a living is the best payment of all.

It also means that I get to help other people on their journeys. I started spidergraham.com as a way to help Small and Medium sized businesses stay on the path. My goal has been to create a community of people who want to be in control of their own destiny. Joining us is free and may just be what helps keep you going.