Just a couple months ago I started applying for full-time employment. Why am I changing my mind and staying a sole trader? What are the drivers in working for myself as a writer and a trainer?
Why Do I Work for Myself Instead Of …
Why do I work for myself instead of becoming an employee? I value money and achievement. I thrive on recognition and feel the need to be productive. I could write procedures, write training and teach software classes as an employee. The income would be more reliable.
My two biggest values are money and location independence. I want to earn money being in any global location with my family. My value of money is not about wealth, but my value of money is recognition for good business.
The Value of Money
First, let me start with a side conversation. I no longer will label myself as a “freelancer.” Apologies to those who embrace the ideology of freelance, but I‘m not “free.” I’m not going to work as an independent business for another business and not get paid for my work.
I love working with small businesses and startups. But I fear the word “free” has created n subconscious expectation that I can be taken advantage of or I don’t need the income. Maybe the word is too close to “freeloader” and the expectation that I am taken care through my spouse’s income is enough.
I am a real business. I am a “sole trader” (or “sole proprietor”). I pay my taxes, pay for invoicing software and use my time for non-billable business tasks. I market, sell and deliver written documents and training.
When my clients pay me on time, I associate the payment with approval for my work. I value money because it is my currency of approval. And, here’s the thing – I respect money. I’m not out to make absorbent amounts of money. I enjoy trading useful help for a modest amount of money.
When clients are slow to pay, ask for favours or make partial payments, I associate that lack of money with disapproval. I don’t feel valued. I feel a loss of trust when I don’t get paid. I feel that the work I did was not meaningful or needed when get paid on time.
The Value of Location
Money is a very powerful symbol of value. In tension with how I feel about money is my need to work from multiple locations. The actual value is “location independence.”
In all honesty, I do not have “freedom of location.” My husband’s career drives him to new international locations. I value being in the same location as my husband and daughter.
I accept that following his career requires me to change my schedule and availability depending on the location of his work. I love the variety and the adventure. At this stage of my life, working as a sole trader has given me the ability to manage work in respect to my location.
Where Do I Belong?
I value a sense of belonging and purpose. Often I ask myself am I part of an ecosystem of good work, or am I an outlier?
I belong online and in the community. I don’t belong in any specific city or country. I do belong in the same location as my husband and daughter. I find the value of my experience and skills amongst online tools. My most rewarding projects come from sitting amongst business people and technical people. I enjoy translating complex ideas into concepts that different audiences understand.
Why Add Training?
Training brings the idea of independence full circle. I like being a sole trader because I have the independence to earn money from any location.
I want to leave the people I meet with the independence to get paid for using the knowledge I can share. I recognise the importance of giving people the optional tools to connect with others, even when I am not at their location.
In essence, training sounds like I am “working myself out of a job.” Well, I am. But I am frequently moving, and the training gives me the hope that people will not be left stranded when my next move comes up. Training adds value to my writing, by ensuring I’m leaving a self-sustaining system for the people I work with.
When Is My Next Move?
My next international move is likely to happen in late December 2015. What does this mean for my timing on current and upcoming projects?
During the move, I will be taking a leave of absence. You’ll be able to catch me by email and social. And, I will be introducing some of my clients to fellow writers who agreed to cover for me. I believe that you, the customer, always have the right to choose who you want to work with. That means that you have the final decision in moving the work on a temporary or permanent basis over to my colleagues.
My two primary backup writers are:
- Penny West – Australian “digital nomad” with a background in mining industry promotions and marketing
- Liz Sonter – Agency Copywriter with experience in travel and consumer services
I value your business and my business. I am concerned about how my upcoming move will impact our work. Feel free to contact me now by phone, email or social media to organise help for upcoming needs.