Benefits of working independently (vs. having a J-O-B) — through the eyes of an entrepreneur
Prior to starting my own career coaching, consulting and training business, I felt restricted by the inherent politics of working for someone else. The last time I was forced to part ways with an employer, I decided it was also the last time someone else was going to decide what my life would look like or how it would proceed. The notion that a J‑O‑B was a requirement for living a happy life became as unhelpful as believing there is a tooth fairy.
Throughout my years of working for others, I frequently found that solving the problems that prevented a business from better serving its customers wasn’t always welcomed by management. To some, striving to be better at what we did was not as popular as being visible, and visibility wasn’t necessarily tied to performance. The brightest star may have dazzled, but producing reading light was not a requirement. On the other end of the spectrum were those who stretched themselves as little as possible. The primary goal of some of my peers was simply to figure out how to slide by, stay under the radar and maintain the status quo. Using common sense to figure things out was less important than following the rules. Both ends of the equation didn’t add up for me, and I was dying inside. Enough was enough. I am not a genius or a prodigy, and I was never motivated to get filthy rich. I am, however, motivated to serve people in a way that helps them improve their lives. It was time to leave the false security of having a J‑O‑B and create a path for myself that allowed me to do something better (and get paid). Resource Maximizer was born.
I make my own rules, based on a strong sense of ethics and integrity
It’s been more than 20 years since I made that decision, and I’ve never regretted it. Working for myself allows me to freely choose the hours I work out of a sense of respect for my clients’ needs vs. answering to a directive from a company policy. I have been able to manage everything life throws at me and still conduct business without compromising service. I love the variety of working with different clients to help them solve their work-related challenges. Even more satisfying, though, is how I can personally shift gears to be able to continue to serve people over the long term as their career-related needs change without having to run it by a superior. I can create policies and redesign processes and materials without approval by anyone. If my clients don’t like something, I can change it without a long, drawn-out process. I develop my own budget, and I decide what I spend money on. I can decide when a client, or potential client, is not or won’t be a fit with my methodology or style and walk away. I make my own rules, based on a strong sense of ethics and integrity, and no longer must I cater to someone else’s version of good or bad business.
The requirement now is to deliver on what my clients want, although it often requires having a better idea of what they actually need. This perspective helps me support my clients on many levels. It’s easy to lead by example when I help contractor workers take control of their employment needs/requirements instead of leaving it to an agency to call all the shots. I also learned early on that some people don’t like hearing how they may be contributing to their unpleasant situation. Although I can guide clients through obstacles that can be resolved by changing jobs, that typically is not the only solution or the right one. In many cases, the real remedy is showing someone how to take responsibility for their situation and make themselves accountable for what happens — just like a business owner must do. Over time, even those who think the solution is external learn to recognize the benefits of facing an issue head on and working through it instead of waiting for everyone/everything else to change. Even if someone isn’t ready to let go of their J‑O‑B, thinking like an entrepreneur can help them get more out of any situation.
Although the overall anxiety created by taking risks and the occasional fleeting fear of failure haven’t completely left me after more than 20 years in business, my excitement for being able to choose to do the right thing for people every day, on my own terms, has far outweighed any discomfort I have had from worrying about my P&L. Instead of having a good J‑O‑B, I can always count on doing a good job.