Thursday, August 26, 2010

How did you begin your journey to self-employment?

I guess I always wanted to be self-employed since my parents always owned their businesses; a restaurant, a clothing store, a convenience store and a little hot dog stand at the end of their career. We didn’t see being self-employed the same way. They wanted me to be a professional who didn’t have to work 12 hours/day, seven days/week. I saw the freedom it would bring me.

In 1999, Nortel employed both Hubby and myself. That’s actually where we met, but not in the office but the basement in the fitness room. But that’s another story. He had been there for over thirteen years and I for only three. The lab where we worked was slowly closing. We were among the first waves of layoffs Nortel had back in 1999. At the time I was home, on sick leave. I received a phone call from my manager and the HR person informing me that once I would be back at work (which was scheduled to be the following week or so) I would be laid off. They explained the package I’d be offer, etc. By the time I was hanging up the phone, Hubby came home. He had also been laid off. Working together, or at least in the same building, was quite convenient: we could commute together, train together, take only one car, attend the same activities, etc. but losing our jobs the same day wasn’t that convenient. We took advantage of everything they offered. Actually, in comparison, my package was better than his. 1999 turned out to be a big year for me: we had a pretty big car accident, then I went on a sick leave for a few months, got laid off, my father committed suicide, I went to Portugal, I also went to Japan to train some and I proposed to my husband!

I had been pushing Hubby to make a move, to start a company. He was comfortable at Nortel, understandably so. We had great advantages, good salaries and a great work environment where they provided lots of ‘toys’. Turned out, they gave us the kick in the pants we needed to make the jump. We agreed we would give it a try, together. I knew I wouldn’t/couldn’t work five days/week with 9 to 5 hours. I needed the flexibility. Between my teaching (karate) and work I had to be able to do both, easily. He wanted me to take care of everything administrative, i.e. bookkeeping etc. In January 2000 he was getting his first contract and since we never looked back. It started out as me doing our books, and slowly turned, by word of mouth, to me doing it also for other people needing someone to do their books. I now have my own clients, in very varied fields, I do my things, and he does his, all under our company.

It’s not always easy. As far as I’m concerned, it was the best move we could have done.
It’s not for everyone. If one needs security and needs to know “for sure” than being self employed may not be the best avenue to explore. The equation is easy: we work for one hour; we get paid for that hour at the rate we established. They like the work we’ve done; they call us back. I used to do a lot of “on call” jobs, I don’t so much. I rather control my schedule. If it’s a nice day and I’d rather be making jams than bookkeeping I just close everything and go jammin’! That’s the part I love most about my current situation. I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity to do something I enjoy and to have a partner who will let me do so and even encourage me to do so.

Does that answer your question, dear Monkey?

4 comments:

Daddy Papersurfer said...

I've been self-employed for about 95% of the time. The 'ups' have outweighed the 'downs' so far .... no pension though ..... still I like bread and water - tee hee

TechnoBabe said...

Good for you, and even better that you and your husband work at home but separately. Perfect set up. Glad things work well for you.

Robert the Skeptic said...

My career change from banking to social services happened when we had a string of layoffs at the bank. I was a manager with three employees in my department; my boss told me to give him the name of one my employee's by the end of the day - that one would be laid off. I called Nancy and we chatted a while. Then I handed a note to my boss of the employee to be laid off - it was my name. The look on his face was totally worth it; for once that jerk was speechless. I loved it.

Monkey said...

yes- it does. I so admire the spirit of adventure it takes to go out on your own. Bravo!