Now that I’m a small business owner working from home, I’m realizing the advantages. But there are definitely disadvantages, too.
I worked in the agency and corporate environment for a total of 19 years. But now that I work from the solitude of my own little home, I have had to make some adjustments.
Of course, you hear all the time about the benefits of abandoning the corporate lifestyle. For me, these include:
– Freedom: I can work from anywhere I want to. Whether that is my home, a coffee shop, in Canada, in Europe, wherever I choose. And if I want to take that afternoon pilates class, I can.
– Time: The commute for the average American is increasing. I once had a job where my commute was 90 minutes. Each way. I spent three hours in a car every working day. If you calculate that time over the year, it’s like spending the entire month of July in the car. Plus, especially for women, think of all the time you spend each day getting ready for the office. Now, my hair goes into a ponytail and I’m quite comfortable in my yoga pants, thank you very much.
– Attitude: I confess that this is the happiest I have ever been in my life. Particularly because I now have spare time to be creative. I was too tired and busy to pursue the hobbies that make me fulfilled, but now I can – like writing, and painting, and cooking more often. My friends have commented on the significant change in my mood.
– Excitement: It might not be for everyone, but I don’t know where my next paycheck is coming from. There is something about the pursuit of new clients that is a bit exhilarating. For some reason, I love this part, and I can’t wait to learn about them and start working with them.
– Master of My Own Destiny: This was probably the biggest a-ha I’ve had. I took time and thought – what do I want my life to look like? What is important to me? I love the industry I work in, I love to travel, I love to write, I love spending time with my teenage daughter and my boyfriend. So I’ve designed my life so I can do all of it.
– Empowerment: It’s nice to know that all the hours and sweat I put into my work directly benefits me. There is also something special about being a woman and owning my own business.
Those are indeed some of the benefits. I am truly living my dream right now.
But what I wasn’t expecting was the isolation, and the loneliness. One of the best aspects of working for a huge corporation is the camaraderie, and the laughter. It’s hearing everyone’s stories and ideas. Commiserating sometimes, and offering a shoulder to cry on at others. Sometimes I look forward to going to the store just to be with people, and to have a two-minute conversation with the check out clerk. That said, the loneliest time of my life was also when I worked for a corporation, with thousands of other people.
The other thing I miss? Being perfectly honest? I miss the cake! I swear to you that we must have had a cake a week. For a birthday, or a promotion, a retirement, a going away party, an anniversary. Not only in my department, but other departments too. Sometimes they would leave leftover cake in the break room; that surprise piece of Costco white cake with its sugary frosting flowers is something really special. I don’t think I have had cake since 2015. Oh, wait. I had a client dinner in February. I shared some cake there.
It’s been predicted that by 2022, 60% of the office workforce will be working from home. I think they might be right. And I will make a prediction that the Costco bakery will go out of business. Without that office population supporting their cake sales…
I kicked off my new company recently. My “office of one.” I didn’t have a room full of coworkers to celebrate my launch. So do me a favor. If you are a friend of mine, participate in my Cake Campaign. Next time you go to the store, buy yourself a piece of cake. It doesn’t have to be cake really, maybe a cookie, or a peach, or a dozen happy sunflowers. Think of me, and wish me well in my new venture.
And if you don’t know me, I encourage you to do the same anyway. Enjoy your treat, and maybe think about a dream deferred. One that is sitting in the back of your mind somewhere. Maybe it’s those guitar lessons you wanted to take, or French classes, or maybe think about that quirky home you’d like to own someday. That old one in Seattle. Or Monterey. Or Tuscany. Let yourself daydream a little.