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Self-Employment (or The Longest Job Hunt Ever)

November 9, 2009

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I’m not really exaggerating.  At least in our line of work, we are always on the look out for the next job or another job.  It’s true that in a better economy work comes to us more often than not and we don’t have to actively search, but when we are in an economically tough time, as now, we are always searching and pursuing job leads and frequently still scrabbling at the end of the day.  So why do we stay self-employed?  That’s a question that I’ve thought a lot about recently.   It ends up that there are many reasons.

The biggest one is that we are both stubborn and independent.  The truth is that we like to have more control over our finances,  schedules and, ultimately, our futures than we did when both or one of us was an employee.  There is also a trade-off because we have more responsibility than were we to clock in and out each day and for the time being, we lack health insurance.  My husband is an excellent worker and very skilled in his trade, but not a good employee.  He detested the shop politics that were constantly disrupting his many workplaces.  Good workers are frequently not rewarded, but people who know how to stick with the right people are, not matter what their skill or productivity level.  Being self-employed has allowed him to put his high skill to use to the maximum benefit for our family.  He is able to work directly with our customers and our customers truly appreciate his talents.  He is happier and less stressed.  He has frequently told me that he would rather work 60 hours per week or more for himself than 40 hours per week for an employer.  When my husband is happier and less stressed, the whole family runs better.  I think that is true of both parents in a two parent family though the typical idea is only that when the wife is happy the family is happy.  I have more responsibility than when I was only a housewife, because I am the bookkeeper and help look for jobs.  I don’t mind, because it’s not too time-consuming of a job and I feel like I’m contributing to our family income.

As a homeschooling family, we already have control over much of our schedule, being self-employed is the other element that puts our schedule mostly in our hands.  Due to technology and the dynamics of our business, we don’t have to be present in our shop or office during regular business hours at all times.  We can work when we need to get things done.  That means that many, if not most, mornings, my husband is able to linger over coffee with me and we can spend time in conversation and business tasks.  We could never do this when he was an employee, unless I was willing to get up around 5:00am.  When we want to go on a road-trip, we can schedule it around our jobs and not around his boss’s schedule.  If we want to go to an outing, say a museum, on a weekday to beat the crowds, we do.  This is not to say that we have complete freedom with our schedule; he has missed quite a few group camping trips during our busy season because he couldn’t take time away from scheduled jobs.  If he has a job that is due, he has to work until it’s done.  Even if that means working late into the night, or rarely, working all night.   (Make hay when the sun is shining, right?)

Another reason is our finances.  Though we have greater stress over them, we also have greater control.  When my husband was employed, he was at the top pay rate in his line of work.  That didn’t quite cut it for a family on one income and it was important to us that I be able to stay at home with our children after our second child was born.  (Before that we just didn’t see a way to swing it on one income.)  He has much greater earning ability being self-employed.  Especially during these economic times I re-think our strategy and I always come to the conclusion that we are doing the right thing.  It’s not only self-employed people worrying about finances right now.  It’s a whole lot of people everywhere.  Being employed by a company certainly doesn’t guarantee work and a paycheck.

Self-employment certainly isn’t for everyone, but it’s working for us.  It’s also working for millions of other Americans.  I don’t know if we will always stay self-employed, but I have a feeling that as long as we are able to make a living doing it this way we won’t go back to being an employee full-time or permanently.  I’m so proud of my husband for having the drive and the ability to go out and constantly represent us and our business and sell our work, because if it were up to me to do that, we’d be really broke.  I’m also proud of his skill and hard-work.  Because he has greater earning potential, the burden of financially supporting us ultimately falls on his shoulders as does the physical work.  I’m thankful that his willingness to go out and work hard affords me the opportunity to stay home and mother our children and make our house a home.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2009 9:02 pm

    Lisa, I could not have said it any better. Also having a self employed husband I totally understand everything you are going through. I have been employed outside of our home on and off throughout our 33 years together, but have always been part of our business either doing the office work or helping out on a job if needed. Although I don’t have kids at home anymore, I want to be able to be home to enjoy time with our grandkids any time I can and I can’t do that if I work somewhere else. Finances are tight, but we make do.

  2. Mom permalink
    November 10, 2009 6:22 am

    I would like to congratulate both of you, because it takes both of you working at it together to make it happen to be self-employed. You each are contributing what you do best and it wouldn’t work without one of you. I am blessed just watching you and Lawrence make a go of it together and you being able to be a stay at home mom, business manager, bookkeeper, etc. It would be hard to list all of the things you do and I am extremely proud of you. I would have liked to stay home more when you girls were small but I am thankful for the times I was able to.

  3. Angeleen permalink
    November 10, 2009 8:08 am

    Very well said, Lisa. And what a sweet tribute to your husband. Gratitude is such a powerful thing. I just love your family.

  4. December 3, 2009 9:36 am

    I share the same feelings with you. I’ve found self employment to be one of the greatest changes to our family. I had the option of putting my kids into daycare and paying them to raise my children while I was at work, or staying home with them, not making AS much money, but being very happy to be home with the kids, and still paying the bills.
    I chose to stay home and haven’t looked back since. I’m able to homeschool as well, which is what i’ve always wanted to be able to do for my children.
    No, we can’t go to the bahamas once a year as a family, or take any elaborate vacations for that matter, but our home is ours. Our time together is OURS.
    I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to be working for someone else right now, because I wouldn’t be there for my kids like I feel I need to be.

    I’d rather take the lesser pay, with the peace of mind!

  5. December 3, 2009 4:27 pm

    Corrabelle-Thanks for visiting! I completely agree with you!

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