3 Reasons Working for Yourself is Harder than Working for Someone Else

Book Signing at The Doubletree Hilton Hotel, downtown Chicago, circa 2014

It is more challenging to work for yourself in my opinion than someone else. My husband and I both run our own businesses. Here’s why it’s more of a challenge:

  • You Can’t Be Lazy

I know, you work for yourself, why can’t you? The truth is that though it’s more freedom, this freedom is a doubled edged sword. Having and running your own business is different than working a 9-5. When you work a 9-5 you’re expected to be there every day and on time and you can have paid times off or vacations or just decide not to come into work today. Pull that when you’re your own boss and it’s the difference between buying groceries and going hungry. The truth is that when you work for yourself you can’t be lazy. Instead of getting paid per hour, you’re getting paid per client and it is how you pay your bills and provide for your family. Not putting in work means to literally not get paid that day.

  • More Discipline

This goes hand in hand with not being lazy. Working for yourself requires more discipline. The reason is because when you work a 9-5 you have days off. When you work for yourself, however, you have to create those days and it’s tempting to procrastinate or put things off. Even though I work from home I still must discipline myself to get up early. There are only so many hours in a day and the earlier you get up the more you can get done. First of all, I need to get a good workout in to get the juices pumping and then I have to get to work which works well if I get up early enough. For my personal business, it’s more so building. Since I don’t have any “clients” yet what I don’t spend in money I spend in time. Researching, writing, blogging, sending off packages, marketing, promotion, and organizing.

However, since I am also the Vice President for my husband’s contracting business, I only have a certain amount of time to do certain things so I do not neglect any key responsibilities. My husband calls it “clocking in”. I call it walking into the office with a cup of coffee in my PJs. Though liberating, I have to constantly remind myself to take breaks and because I make my own schedule I have to incorporate my own vacations. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because when you work for yourself you’re never off. Your phone is constantly ringing from clients, your email and text messages are overflowing with new messages, and you’re just overall always locked in. My husband had to literally talk me into writing last weeks Black History Fun Fact Friday article. If it was not for him you all would not have had a BHFFF article for real. After grocery shopping, putting up food, and cleaning the kitchen I certainly didn’t feel like researching on the computer. But my husband’s work ethic is amazing and he does not let me slack off.  Truth is, people think that not having a “job” means you have all the time in the world and that you spend your days staring at the wall. In reality, I rarely have time to watch TV. (My version of TV is CNN as background noise). So, breaks such as movie night is something that we create.

  • Taking Breaks

10603772_720596317976228_4749338203801196478_nSince I mentioned breaks, I figured I should go ahead and list this one for the last bullet point. When you work for yourself you must schedule your own breaks. This sounds simple, but it’s not. Entrepreneurs are largely made up of what people call workaholics. The truth is not everyone is a workaholic, it’s just that when you make your own money you’re constantly working (as I’ve just mentioned) because nothing is guaranteed and every cent is earned. Therefore, business owners must create schedules to ensure they don’t lose their minds. We must create our own days off and vacations (mine is coming up, whoo hoo!) When we return, we’re reminded of why working for yourself is so much more mentally challenging. Everything we put off has piled up and so the grind continues but….

I would do it all again in another lifetime.

When you own your own business, you don’t just have more control but you gain so many more valuable skills, such as being more accountable for your actions and being more attentive to your surroundings and the behavior of people. You learn to do things like take the initiative (doing what needs to be done without being told) which is a great leadership skill. There’s something about doing the work yourself that gives you a different way of looking at the world, a new perspective, and a higher level of discipline and responsibility. In addition, the reward for all of this work is well worth it. The benefits of entrepreneurship certainly outweigh the challenges.


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release summer, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release (coming soon) for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

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Resume Writing

This post was prompted by a friend who contacted me because she needed help writing a resume. Before I started fiction writing full time, which I am really only able to do financially because of my husband’s financial support and our collective investment, I was an administrative specialist at a community center. One of my primary duties included helping people to write resumes, complete job applications, mock interviews, and basically the overall job search campaign which included sometimes adult tutoring, especially in the area of computers.

The increase in technology has changed the way that we view everything. From book publishing, printing, and even resume writing. Thing is, you don’t have to do so much writing anymore. What happens now is that your resume will go through a screening process by a computer, which looks up Keywords as it relates to that particular market. If your resume “passes”, that is to say those keywords were found, it will move on to the recruiters’ desk. If your resume “fails” however, it will not even be seen by the employer. Sounds unfair I know but that’s the world we live in.

To make matters easy, you really only need a few sections and minimal writing skills to build a presentable resume:

• Objective OR Professional Profile
• Career History
• Educational Background
• Skills

You can add references as well but that’s even becoming extinct in the area of most importance on a resume (most places want your references during the interview or post resume process). What’s the most important bullet point here? It’s not your educational background, not even your employment history. These days, employers want to hire people they can train and mold into their ideal company representative so there’s a lot of people being rejected because of being “overqualified”. That’s because employers are not really looking for the most intelligent anymore. They are looking for someone who knows how to follow basic instructions and who will not challenge the company’s authority more so than how many degrees someone has. Even when it comes to experience, someone with these basic skills can be hired in a larger capacity than someone with years of job experience in that area. The most important section of your resume today is the “Skills” section.

Depending on what kind of job you’re looking for, make a list of your skills as it relates to that particular position. Write it on a spare piece of paper or whatever but just write down as many as you can. Go to your resume and under “Skills” list them all. Here’s an example of someone applying to a job in the area of Social Media Specialist:

• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Brand Identity
• Twitter Management
• Digital Asset Management
• Media Planning /Buying
• Facebook Advertising
• Market Research
• Technology Implementation
• Project Management
• Blogging /Blog Commenting

You may notice I included terms like “Blogging”, “Facebook Advertising”, and “Twitter Management”. This may not seem important but it is, leave nothing out. Any skill you have can be listed here. Sometimes people are looking for employment without really having had a job before and they think they have no skills. You’re alive and breathing aren’t you? Then you have skills! Everyone has something they can do or that they are good at. I don’t care if it’s babysitting, that’s something you can write down. It’s all about understanding the language. Turn “I watch my sister’s children” into keywords like:

• Child Care Development                    < you are responsible for their well-being
• Cooking / Meal Preparation               < you cook for the children
• Creative Initiative                               < you have to find something for them to do
• Cleaning / Antiseptic Management   < you clean up after the children

This will ensure your resume gets through the computer screening process. Now all you really have to do is polish up the other parts of the resume. It is also important, in my opinion, to have more than one resume for the different jobs to which you are applying. This is because a resume for Lead Cook at a restaurant will not look the same, or have the same keywords, as a resume for a school teacher. It is also important to update your resume at least yearly. If you change jobs often, every six months.

Remember, the resume is not designed to get you the job which is a truth I think many of us lose sight of. If you aren’t hired it’s not because your resume was bad, it’s because of other key factors that play a role. Your resume’s job is not to get you the job, its job is to get your foot in the door and by foot in the door I mean: past the screening, into the recruiters’ hands and your butt in the Interview chair.

Note: Oh, and if you can, try to limit your resume to one page. It looks more professional. Here’s a sample:

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To Move a Mountain

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“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Proverb

So I have a very important writing endeavor coming up and it’s a really big deal. I will be among nine other writers to take part and not everyone’s script is guaranteed to make the final cut. With just a small window available to get it written, it made me think of this quote. A huge job or task only seems impossible because for the most part, we are trying to do it all at once. When I think about projects it’s usually the finished product. I think about how to go about completing the entire project but in truth that just makes it more difficult than it has to be.

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When I was in High School (well technically I had graduated but we were still in the summer months following graduation), I was chosen to take part in this program. The program was called “Paint the Town”, in which a group of former students sacrificed the rest of the summer to get together and perform one final project on behalf of the school. Since we were no longer students and really didn’t need the credit this was a paid job, so you know we were in. Some of us were already working summer jobs and preparing ourselves to start College the next semester. The job was to paint a mural on a concrete wall in the neighborhood. Initially, it seemed overwhelming because we had to complete the entire wall before the end of the program. Not to mention that we were not professional artists, we were former High School students guided only by the school’s Art teacher. Our job was to decide on a theme, draw out a blueprint and decided how to transfer our vision from paper to an outside concrete wall. It was no easy task as we struggled to decide what was important enough to leave its mark on this wall forever, or for as long as the elements didn’t wash it away. However, once we decided to break it down into parts and sections, and delegate those sections to certain individuals or teams, it didn’t seem like such a large mountain to move. We were able to see the possibility of it all coming together and today, I can walk down that same Chicago Street and still see my name carved among those who participated in the program that took place nine years ago.

When you are faced with an important job, try not to take it all in, but see it coming in slow, a little at a time and eventually the whole picture will come together. It is only when we try to move the mountain in one sitting that we overwhelm ourselves. Just take it one stone at a time; you’ll get there eventually if you remain diligent.