A few thoughts on being “Self Employed”.

You see the tempting Internet ads. Work from home. Be your own boss. Start your own business. Be self employed. Work for yourself.

As an employee I had the odd occasion to think my bosses had the good life. Come to work for a few hours and pretend to do something, all the while checking the clock to make sure they don’t miss tee time at the country club. Or take half days mid week, in summer, to take the kids to the pool at the country club. One person I worked for would take a week off to go play in the trees with guns. Returning to work he regaled us all with his tales of being the “Silent Hunter” then showing photographs of the buck he shot and killed.

Being an “Employee” has many advantages. Being a business “Owner” has many opportunities.

As an “Employee” your work time is a set schedule.  Days or nights you go to work.  Part time or full time.  Put in your hours doing your assigned tasks then go home.  You have scheduled days off.  Either during the week or on the weekend.  Some employees have their off days split.  For example they will work Sunday to Tuesday with Wednesday off, then back to work on Thursday to Friday with Saturday off.

As a “Business Owner” in Drive-Away we don’t get many days off.  We will work for an entire calendar month and not see home.  If we do get a day off it is because the trucks aren’t ready yet or one or both of us are ill, which doesn’t happen often.  That “time off” is usually spent in a hotel room far from home.

Doctor appointments dictate our time home.  Family events dictate our time off.  Equipment repairs and service to the pickup dictate our time home, as well.  By the time we do get home we are so beat the first couple days are spent in a stupor with frequent naps.

As an Employee your tasks are defined.  Your job is compartmentalized.  A grill cook at a fast food place, for example.  You stand in front of the hot grill all day long slapping down burgers one after another.  Someone else is assigned the tasks of putting the burger together and wrapping it up.  Another person is in charge of the deep fryer.  Another person gets to deal with the public and take their orders.

In an office environment one person handles the incoming phone calls and sends them off to the requested extension.  Another person is in charge of the vendors which supply product for the business.  Another person is in charge of the accounts receivable, monies owed the business for work done.  Another person is in charge of the accounts payable, monies owed to the vendors.  Another person is in charge of sales, promoting the business and/or products to other business that would require the product and/or service.

As a small Business Owner you get to do every job.  Sales person, purchasing agent which deals with the vendors, accounts receivable and payable to see and know where the money gets spent and how much comes in.  You are responsible for the equipment used in your work.  Making repairs necessary to keep the business running.

In our business of Drive-Away we are:

  1. Order Expeditors“.  Picking up the trucks in a timely manner and delivering them as well.
  2. We do “Cost Analysis” on each job.  How much fuel will be purchased to get the trucks from one point to the next.  Which route(s) to take for shorter miles and fuel savings.
  3. We are “Schedulers” for each job.  Determine how long it will take to get to the pick up location and how long it will take for delivery.
  4. We are “Travel Agents” calling hotels along our route and wheedling the best price for a night’s lodging.
  5. We are “Maintenance Facilitators”  finding the nearest Road Service to come out and fix a flat tire, change a fuel filter, or some other type of repair necessary.   Also to hire qualified facilities to maintain our pickup and our trailer as is needed.
  6. We are “Client Representatives” in that we deal with the clients on a one to one basis.  The client has previous experience with other Drive-Away drivers and are not too keen on them.  The client’s experience, at times, is one fraught with an ill tempered driver, rude behavior, foul mouth, not willing to be flexible in delivery.  We are judged by the last driver that arrived.  If it was a bad experience we are assumed to be the same.
  7. We are skilled in “Time Management” on the road.  At each job site we know how long it takes to hook up the trucks and how much space we will need.  At delivery locations we know how much time it takes to get the trucks off our equipment and placed in the designated areas.
  8. We are “Inventory Control Specialists” in that all of our necessary supplies to do the job are where they need to be.  Chains, straps, air lines, electric lines, adapters, and all other stuff we need to do our job.
  9. We are “Purchasing Agents” as we go into a hardware store for straps, boards, air line fittings, rubber bungee straps, and any other item that is needed in our job.

Those are the jobs we do in the actual Drive-Away business.  The other side of this business is clerical.  The work I am doing now.

  1. Mail Room Clerk.  I get to go through all the mail and determine what is relevant to our business and/or personal life.  Determining what goes where.
  2. Clerk Typist.  I create the file folders for bank statements, monthly  household bills, Settlement Sheets, Load (Trip) Documents.
  3. File Clerk.  Handling the filing system for business and home.
  4. Data Entry Clerk.  The loathsome job I am working diligently to avoid doing right now.
  5. Accounts Payable Clerk.  Scheduling payments for vendors we use in our business.  Companies we purchase nuts and bolts and other hardware goods from.  Companies that fabricate specialty items, such as hydraulic hoses with fittings to replace failing equipment.  Paying the hotel bills via a company that can get us up to 20% off a nights stay.  Paying our accountant and legal team.
  6. Accounts Receivable Clerk.  Sending out necessary documents at the end of a job for payment.  Maintaining a data base (QuickBooks) for entering the invoices and monies received for payment due.

If you are considering striking out on your own and being your own boss it is important that you keep in mind it is more challenging to be a business owner than it is to be an employee.  How determined are  you to be “Self Employed”?  Do you have what it takes to keep a business going?  Are you up for not having a personal life?  Are you willing to sacrifice your social life?  Are you willing to be totally responsible for the food on your table and the roof over your head – with no weekly paycheck to fall back on?

Do you want to enrich your life and learn new things?  Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone and do many tasks you don’t have a clue how to do?  Do you want to have the satisfaction of knowing that you create your day – good or bad – without the influence of a boss?  Do you want to know that each dollar earned in your business came from your own initiative?  Your own blood, sweat, and tears?

Another aspect of being your own boss is you are responsible, not only for the growth and development of your business, but for your home environment as well.  You will find yourself scheduling time to clean the toilets, meal planning and execution, laundry, dusting, vacuuming, and all the myriad other household chores necessary to keep a clean house.

I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have accomplished creating my filing system for 2013 AND I have got both of our bathrooms cleaned from top to bottom.  In this week alone.  The rest of my house is a wreck but will be tackled one week at a time.

My craft room is the place where I really want to be.  Before I can get in there and play around, get back into my crafty social life, I have to slog through all the work for my business and clean my house.  Some sacrifice is necessary in order for everything to be fully functioning.

Okay, I’ve spent enough time avoiding my “Data Entry” duties.  Crapazoid :/  Time to get back to work.

Leslie

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About Message In A Fold

I am an over the road truck driver in Drive-Away Transport part of the year, and the sole bookkeeper of this operation the other part of the year. I do a lot of whining until I can get in my craft room and play with paper and glue. View all posts by Message In A Fold

4 responses to “A few thoughts on being “Self Employed”.

  • gardenpinks

    Been there and done it Leslie – self employed that is. You just have to be good at juggling and delegating:) As time goes on you should have your systems in place so that it all becomes so much easier, it is the unexpected or the unplanned that can throw a spanner in the works. For us it was the sudden drop in temperature that hadn’t been forecast but after a while you become attuned to the weather and are prepared to throw plant fleece over the babies (plants) to protect them from cold snaps or a mouse discovers all the pots of sweet pea seed and very quickly that little bugger has visited every pot and eaten or taken away hundreds of seeds. The weather we couldn’t do much about but go with it but those little varmints we did deal with, never ceased to amaze me just what they could climb up even metal struts! Probably the worst unplanned thing that happened to us was when I broke my leg half way through the hanging basket season and I still had about 40 to plant up – that was a painful time but I did it and we found work arounds. I learnt how to weed flowerbeds – lower down onto knees and straighten leg and cast out behind and crawl about weeding as I went and dragging the crutches behind me! Rod had to clean up the weeds later 🙂 I even found a way of getting around to cut flowers for orders.
    Love and hugs
    Lynn xx

    • Message In A Fold

      Thank you for that great contribution. You have told me of the plant nursery you and Rod had years ago. You two supplied all the cut flowers and greenery for shops and villages in your area across the pond for many years. Creating baskets, bouquets, and plants throughout the year for your customers. Also doing special arrangements for weddings, funerals, and large events.

      Your struggles with thieving mice and your broken leg are new additions to your trials as growers and suppliers in your business that you have shared. Thank you for sharing this bit of yourself. Things a person doesn’t think of when considering having their own business and dealing with nature and physical limitations. Customers needs don’t magically stop when there are catastrophes to be dealt with.

      My friend, I can just about imagine the pain you dealt with and the frustration you had knowing that you had to keep going and doing when all you really wanted to do was find a corner and hide away in a little ball. 😦

      Love you my friend – Leslie

  • Tracy :)

    I can so relate.
    With owning and running a family business of a trucking/gravel operation, we have never had a summer vacation as that is when it was the busy time. We got married in February and heaven forbid I had a child in the middle of summer, lol.
    Hubby couldn’t help with that as…..work was always a priority. As it is the only income and with owning your own company, couldn’t get maternity leave or paid sick days.
    But I’m not complaining as it has been good to us.
    We have just sold the business and I am now retired at age 46.

    • Message In A Fold

      Congratulations on your retirement at 46 😀 Also, congratulations on getting your business sold.

      I had to chuckle at your mentioning of not having paid sick days or maternity leave, plus the remark about your husband having work being his first priority. Being “self employed” is not for the faint of heart. The steady pay check doesn’t get handed to you every Friday after putting in your 40 hours of work. One thing being self employed does teach is discipline and hard work. As business owners, we don’t work by the clock….we work by daylight. As long as the sun is shining there is enough time for work. You two have done a tremendous job with your girls and your family life while running a business.

      Enjoy your retirement 😀

      Leslie

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