I spent the early part of my professional life working for someone else. It didn’t suit me.
What it meant was that eight to twelve hours of my day belonged to someone else. Even with weekends and vacations, about a third of my life was donated to my boss. Now, I see the reasons that some people would want to do that, but I’m happier when such a big part of my life is not a job.
When I had my first opportunity to work for myself, I took it. I started out as a product representative, and did a lot of traveling through the Southwest states, and along the Mexican border. I knew on the first day that I was going to love being my own boss.
When I worked on someone else’s clock, being sure that the quality of my work was top notch was certainly a good thing for me. But it was better for the businesses I worked for. My employers generally treated me well, and being good at my job meant better money and advancement for me. But they were also taking a cut of my success, no matter how generous they were.
And I was also representing them, which meant I had to do things the way they wanted them done. I didn’t always see eye to eye with their decisions, but I knew what I had signed up for, and I did what they wanted with a smile on my face. And I was even good at doing it. But it wasn’t enough for me.
The day I took my first road trip for my own company, I felt like someone had taken a cement sack off my shoulders. I was now working for me, which meant that the ceiling of my success was up to me. As far as that was concerned, I thought the sky was the ceiling. Sure, I worked hard. But it was fun to work hard now. I was investing in me, and making my life a labor of love instead of a job.
From the outside, it might have looked like I was doing just about the same work. But there was a big difference: Now I was happy. There aren’t words to tell you how nice it was to have my future in my own hands, and not be dependent on someone else’s idea of how business ought to be run. It was like the steering wheel to my life was there all along, but I had only now taken hold of it.
I’ve never looked back. In fact, I looked forward; when I saw that I could represent my own products, instead of someone else’s, I saw that I could have even more control of my business life. So I started my own company. I met with manufacturers personally, and had them make the products I wanted, my way. And now, instead of traveling around a dozen states, I was traveling all over the world. I was seeing places I never would have when I was an employee. I was meeting some of the most interesting people I had ever known, from cultures I had never imagined.
Some of these people wound up helping me carve out the life I wanted. The life that meant I was free to choose my own direction, and free to steer my business on the path that I thought was the right one.
For me, working for someone else meant my life was a job. Working for myself? That’s been an adventure.