To Be Or Not To Be Self-employed?
Most people who know me are aware that I have my own business and a frequent question I get asked is, “what’s your long-term plan with Pass the Cookies?” While others are curious, it’s also a question that has bounced around in my head for years now, but until recently, I have yet to come up with a solid answer. It wasn't a matter of being unprepared, unprofessional, or irresponsible, but rather a case of being uncertain and undecided.
There are ups and downs to every situation and self-employment definitely has a long list of pros and cons. Working for yourself is, above everything else, extremely empowering, especially if you’re able to find long-term success in it. Having the ability to create something that people want is an unimaginable accomplishment. I have worked customer service jobs for several years in the past, but the personal connections you make and the smiles you put on your customers’ faces have a whole new level of meaning when you’re working for your own name. You’re not just another replaceable employee in a big-chain company...you’re the face of the brand, the person people reach out to personally for the important celebrations in their lives. And then of course you have the power to make your schedule and use your own judgement as for how much work to take on. You’re also obviously your own boss so you don’t need to take directions from anybody other than your customers. (I'm sure most of us have been in workplace situations where we have to do as the boss says, even if they’re less qualified for their job than you are.) Your customers are your boss and your success is measured by their feedback. It’s a different kind of motivation when you’re working for your own success, rather than the success of a big-chain company who you’ve likely never met the owner of. As an artist, one of the best feelings is having a platform to use as a creative outlet. Inevitably, you also get to mingle amongst a network of other small business owners, where you have the opportunities to collaborate, bounce ideas off one another, and make new friends.
With all these perks of being an entrepreneur, however, you can't underestimate the countless challenges that come with it. More than anything, the business is always on your mind. Unlike a 9-5 job where you can usually turn off your work-brain once you clock out, owning a business is a 24/7 occupation. This then takes a toll on your personal life and it becomes easy to lose friendships and fall out of touch with people you care about. You also get out what you put in, which is both a pro and con, but that also means that you need to HUSTLE for every dollar you make. For me, it’s never been about the money, I’m just happy to be a part of peoples’ special occasions and witness the joy that comes across their faces when they see my work. However, for the past year it has been my only form of income so I do need to support myself and make a living. Sometimes I do fantasize about working for a company, having a guaranteed paycheque waiting for me every two weeks...how much easier that would be and how much more free time I would have to spend with friends and family. And then there’s the physical demand that is required...piping so frequently hurts my hand and I’m so sure that I’m bound to develop arthritis or something of that nature. When these thoughts come to mind, it’s difficult to think logically about turning this into a full-time business long-term. I know there’s options out there, such as hiring decorators, opening up a store, or franchising, but my heart doesn’t spark with excitement at the thought of any of those options. So I land back at square one and my mind continues to doddle around the question, “what is your long-term goal?”
I couldn’t have been any luckier with my situation because a hobby of mine turned into a business without any intention of that happening. I am so grateful for how things worked out but since it was not planned, I also question if it’s truly what I want to do or if I have just fallen into it. Owning a business really tests what you’re made of...for example, I never knew how many days and nights I could go without sleep, and I have surprised myself over the years with how outgoing I can be, despite my shy personality. But you also need to have a thick skin when times get rough...you will definitely encounter an unruly customer every so often, or go through supply shortages that have you running around the city frantically from east to west. At the end of the day, it's what makes the experience complete. There's no good without the bad.
(Wow, I always consider myself a quiet person until I get writing, then I can ramble on forever but I promise I'll wrap this up quick!) Anyways, in closing, I ultimately DO want to be an entrepreneur and feel the pride in every tiny win that may come of it. I know the grind is real but I'm here for it! And most importantly, this year I FINALLY made a decision as to where I want to take Pass the Cookies, and it's a direction that most likely nobody was expecting...I'll be sharing that with you all in the next couple of blog posts!!
Are you a small business owner? How do you feel about working for yourself? Do you ever experience similar thoughts? I would love to hear from you!
Much love + success to all you entrepreneurs,