Most days, I think that too. In fact, during a recent conversation about “the best thing that’s ever happened to you,” I realized that launching my business 26 years ago this month is my “best thing.”
However, I didn’t wait for it to happen to me. I deliberately took a leap of faith – and it’s one I have never regretted.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t as fast as a leap. Maybe it was more like stretching and warming up and slowly building up to a hop over the fence.
I pondered it for more than a year. I registered the name Get It Write in January 1990 and signed up for a tax number the following December. The business was officially active on January 15, 1991 and the first invoice went out the next day. I haven’t look back.
Among the best things about running my own business:
- No commute. Getting to or from my previous job sometimes took half an hour (on the best of days), or three times that in ugly traffic on far too many days. I didn’t realize how much of a toll this took until I stopped doing it.
- More control over my day (mostly). Research shows that people who feel they have no control over their jobs are more likely to be stressed. As the boss of me, I’m in control. I can choose to accept an assignment, or I can turn down work that isn’t a good fit. I can decide in the morning to finish a specific project that day, and do it. Sure, there are still days when I am running flat out to meet several deadlines, but those days are balanced by calmer ones with nothing due.
- Variety. I can take on different work that interests me, and for a variety of clients. While I enjoy working on employee newsletters, I’ve been able to use the same skills to explain complicated research or capture the essence of a program in a concise summary.
- Flexibility. Although I usually stick to a 9-to-5 type of schedule, I can start later and make up the time in the evening, or get errands done over an extended lunch. I can work flat out on a project for one client in the morning and a different client in the afternoon, or goof off when I need a break. When my sons were small, I sometimes volunteered at their school or helped chaperone field trips, making up the work time later. For a time, I also took weekly ski lessons, Thursdays at 11 a.m., so I could keep up with them on the slopes.
- Work/life balance. I’m not gonna lie; it’s hard to have it all, and all at the same time, especially with a family. But this is the closest I’ve ever come to balance. The early years with two small boys and a husband who travelled a fair amount were easier when I worked from home. Being home also meant we could finally get a dog, and he was a great help in making sure I took regular breaks and got some exercise every day.
If you’re thinking about launching your own business, too, I have lots of encouragement and advice. In 2016, I answered some questions in How to take the leap to the independent life. In a post marking 24 years in business in 2015 (I’m not waiting for LinkedIn to say congrats), I boil it down to four main areas:
- Be visible
- “Old school” still has value
- Spread the word
- Build a virtual team
A post written on my 23rd anniversary in 2014 (Thinking about hanging out your shingle? Start here) has more specific details, and colleagues share more great tips in the comments.
These days, you’ll find lots more resources and groups out there supporting freelancers than there were 26 years ago, including IABC/Toronto’s Professional Independent Communicators and my local Communicators Connection. If you’re hesitating about taking that leap, I encourage you to explore the possibilities.