To The Loved Ones of Self-Employed Humans
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with fellow small business owners and entrepreneurs and discussed feeling misunderstood. Often times sharing feelings of frustration, hurt or disconnect toward our loved ones because they ‘just don’t understand’. After too many of these conversations I realize maybe the disconnect is partially our fault. Maybe we’re not doing as good of a job expressing our needs as we think. So what do I need from you?
Support my dream of being self-employed. Don’t ask me when I’m going to get a 'real job.' Don’t ask me what my back-up plan is, and definitely don’t ask me if I can financially support myself doing 'that'. It’s not to say these thoughts haven’t crossed my mind, but I need my friends and family to show support, not fuel my fears. Instead of these questions, show your support of me by asking how I’m holding up during my busy season, or simply treating my job how you would treat anyone else’s. Small businesses and entrepreneurs flourish when they have the authentic support of friends and family, rather than their loved ones waiting in the wings for them to fail.
Don’t mistake my flexibility for availability. I love spending time with my humans just as much as anyone. I also have more flexibility than a traditional job but it doesn’t mean I can be available at any time. I choose to give up a classic forty hour week to pursue passions for countless more hours. There are a lot of times during the year you’ll see me working eighty hour plus work weeks and there just isn't time for that extra coffee date. While most of my people are understanding of this, every now and again someone will extend the, 'But aren't you your own boss?' which results in feelings of guilt from me. I am the one telling me I can't hang out but it's part of the job. Stuff still has to get done.
I wear a lot of hats. I’m not just selling a product or service. I’m an amateur accountant, marketing team, customer service representative, and so much more. This also means I’m my own social media manager, which requires a lot more strategy than expected so don’t be surprised if I pull out my phone at a strange time for my nightly post.
Respect the value of my time. I've written this paragraph a few different times now because it's one of the hardest things for me to explain to my loved ones. I don't have paid-time off. That part makes sense to everyone! The part that often doesn't translate is when I don't work, I don't make money. The best example I have of this is a dear friend who invited me to be a part of her bridal party, amazing right? Yes! I loved getting to celebrate her! But, as a wedding photographer, that meant giving up available Spring wedding dates. I had people wanting to book me for the Friday of her rehearsal dinner and the Saturday of her wedding, $8000+ of potential revenue. What did I do? I told the potential clients I was in a dear friends wedding that weekend, of course!! But the note I got from my friend a few weeks after her wedding thanking me for the time I took to celebrate her meant the world.
A little awareness goes a long way. This is an extension of my previous point, when she sent me that thank you, she was being aware. In my career, busy season is June and October, but I have a close friend who owns a floral shop, and their Doom’s Day is Valentine’s. For another friend who owns a women’s boutique, it’s sorority mom’s weekends, an event that spans a month of weekends and leaves their store in complete chaos. We all know to check on our friend that is a CPA in April or our teacher friends in August as they head back to school! Right? Don’t be afraid to ask me what my busy season is and then support me during that time, never be afraid to offer some encouragement. Each of our jobs is important and together we make the world go ‘round, the more we support one another, the lighter the weight on everyone's shoulders becomes.
Don’t expect special deals because you're a friend or family. There. I said it. This is tough but I still need to pay my bills and I still want to make a living. I'm fortunate enough that I can provide a discount to my family and friends but not everyone can, so don't expect it. If you're interested in my product or services support me by paying for them. Nothing means more than having people not question your value.
Self-employment is powered by inspiration and a lot of that inspiration comes from YOU! You're the people I love and who I choose to create for and I thank you! Your praises, constructive criticism, and encouragement allow me to continue to improve. Without you there is no one to share this passion with!
Thank you for helping me make this world turn, together we make one heck of a team.