Sunday, May 6, 2012

It's Not THAT Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday

Today marks my last day as self-employed person. Tomorrow at 8am, I will go back to the 8-5 world of multi-line telephones, MS Office suite and most importantly- a regular paycheck. Am I sad? Sure, a little. Regrets? Yep, tons. Would I do it all over again if I knew how hard it was going to be? Not a chance.

"What," you say, "I thought you were following your dream?" Yeah, I was. But I was just following A dream; I've still got about 146 other dreams to tackle. And, also, my boss was an idiot.

The savvy reader will realize that the idiot boss I am talking about is myself. I was awful. I had no idea how to run a company. I completely violated about every single OSHA regulation; I worked my employee non stop about 12-14 hours a day, denied her lunch breaks, blamed her for my failures, accused her of not working hard enough, and said awful, demoralizing things about her. All the time, paying her about 3 cents a day. Boys II Men were right about a lot of things, except this: It's not really that hard to say goodbye to yesterday.

I have truly realized that self-employment is most likely not for me. Not now anyway.

But, I did learn a few things. And, if you are interested in self-employment, here's a few tips:

  • DO NOT LISTEN TO THE NAYSAYERS. Don't pay attention to them. Instead, listen to and invest yourself in the positive people in your life who give you encouraging support. But, there will be naysayers and it's good to identify them right away. They break down like this: 
    • 1) The Well Meaners- these most likely include your parents or other family members, really close friends, spouses, etc. You can identify the "Well Meaners" by the phrase "What are you going to do if it doesn't work out?" They ask this question out of pure concern, but they have no idea how debilitating that question is to your confidence. My advice with dealing with the Well Meaners: Lie. Tell them what they want to hear. Say something like "Don't worry, I have a nest egg," or "I have a back-up job lined up." You already have way too much anxiety over your future, you don't need to pass it on to them too.
    • 2) The Broken Dreamers- these are people who have "been there and done that" and didn't fare so well. And, most likely, they know exactly how this is going to end up and they are just trying to save you from financial and emotional ruin...but there's also a little bit of bitterness in their prophecies of doom. I'd like to think that I am better than this, but chances are that I am going to become a Broken Dreamer. So, when you talk to me about your new business ventures, please don't be offended by my dream-puncing tendencies; I'm just wallowing in my own failures.
    • 3) The Green Eyed Monsters- These people are almost the worst. They won't support your endeavors out pure jealousy. You hit a nerve with trying to fulfill your dream and they will project their inability or lack of desire to take risks on you. They will try to belittle your actions by saying condescending things like "so, how's your little craft business going?" or "oh, are you still doing that?" Or, they will straight out refuse to recognize that you actually work hard and refer to you as unemployed. My advice to this? Ignore them. Don't waste your energy trying to convince them that you work hard. Let them think what they want. You know the truth. Don't let them throw salt in your game. I had trouble ignoring them, but hopefully you won't. And honestly, most of them don't really mean to be hateful; they just resent that you are doing your own thing and they aren't. I think there's a little bit of Green Eyed Monster in all of us.
    • The Schadenfreude-ers - This type of naysayer is the worst. To be fair, I believe that schadenfreude exists in all of us to some extent as well. Schadenfreude, most simply defined, is the German word that means "the pleasure derived from others' misfortunes." And, as I said, I think schadenfreude is present in most of us...I for one would completely delight in any sort of misfortune brought upon Rick Santorum, but that's just me. Back to my point. Schadenfreude will be present in your enemies as well as people you thought you were your friends. The will talk behind your back and sometimes to your face about the flaws in your plans. They will ask cloying questions about how you are doing, only in the anticipation of a "things are not going so great" answer. Some might even try to sabotage your success by spreading rumors to others, just to get the satisfaction from your failure. Luckily, I only encountered one or two Schadenfreude-ers during my year long self-employment, but they were very toxic just the same. My advice on Schadenfreude-ers: cut them out of your life as soon as you identify them. Also, make sure to keep tight lipped around friends of Schadenfreude-ers. Schadenfreude-ers thrive on bad news. Don't feed them. Ever.
  • TRY HARD AND TAKE RISKS. But don't be too hard on yourself when you fail. When I first started selling jewelry as my 100% full time job, I tried every new advertising measure I could. Some worked well, others failed miserably and ended up being quite costly. The majority of my risks ended in new sales, new connections, new business partners, and new friends. The minority of my risks resulted in lost inventory/revenue, embarrassment, and bad blood. When that happens, it's really hard not to focus on the risks that ended badly because they feel so devastating at the time. But, when you breathe and step back, you realize that they were just a small part of your overall operation.
  • DON'T LOOK AT THIS AS PASS/FAIL. Instead, I think it's helpful to grade yourself on the standard scholastic scale. I know that I keep referring to myself as a "failure" but I actually don't think that. If I were to grade myself, it would go like this: 
    • A in creativity and design as well as customer service and event vending. 
    • B in promotion. I know that I probably drove all my facebook and twitter friends mad with my constant item listing promotions, but the truth is that some of it worked. But I could have found better ways of advertising. Sometimes, friends who have known me from the "get-go" would ask "Do you have an etsy page or something?" Face palm. Clearly my etsy listing promotions weren't work as well as I had hoped.
    • C in aggressiveness. I would never go for the "hard sell" but I didn't try too hard at the soft sell either. In fact, my lackadaisical sales methods are rooted in my distrust of a few sales people and my desire to not be like them. Most of the time, I found myself talking people out of necklaces...I'm a weirdo.
    • D in business planning. I don't understand the economy, business practices, etc. and I don't wanna.
    • No F's. I don't think I all out failed in anything.
         While my above report card isn't straight A's, I didn't completely fail. Sure, I'm not going to get into a good college with these grades...but I did get into my "safety school," which I guess would be an M-F, 8-5 office job:)

So there it is. Interestingly enough, I landed this new job that I start tomorrow almost a year to the day that I quit my old job and started out on my self-employed journey. I told myself that I would give it a year and I did (give or take a few days). I'm extremely proud of what I accomplished, however, as I said earlier- If I knew how taxing it was going to be and how many friendships I was going to lose as well as the constant emotional roller coaster it would cause, I probably wouldn't have done it. But that's just me and that shows you what kind of person I am (read: scaredy cat). This was one of the hardest things I ever did and it put a lot of pressure on my family and friends- mainly, my wonderful husband who stood by me through the whole thing. I regret that I couldn't make it work, but now I know that it just wasn't right for me...or maybe it just wasn't right for me at this time.

Don't worry though, I've got about 146 other dreams to try, so stay tuned:)

Oh, that reminds me, and I better check with my soon-to-be-ex employer and see if my 401K rolls over. Probably not. I'm an awful boss.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Insomnia and The Colosseum

I am really having a hard time writing today's blog. I'm feeling completely uninspired and very, well, not smart. I can't even come up with better phrasing for the term "not smart."

This apathy could be due to the fact that I have been dealing with insomnia this week. And the insomnia is making me...not smart.

Bear with me folks. I have no witty segue into the blog topic, so here it is- 

The Roman Colosseum:

  • The Colosseum started construction in the year 70. Yep, a double digit year. According to various accounts, it took 8-10 years to construct. That, to me, is a staggering statistic. It makes me think of what I have accomplished in 8-10 years...and it's not building a Colosseum, that's for sure.
  • The Colosseum was originally called the Flavian Amphitheater because construction began during the rule of Emperor Flavian, but it was later renamed the Colosseum, due to it's proximity to the statue of Colossus. 
  • It was built as a gift to the Roman citizens as a venue for hosting free entertainment. The events that were held there were: executions, gladiator and exotic animal fights, religious ceremonies and mock naval battles*. (*note, in my intellectually depleted state, I almost typed "navel battles," which is a pretty funny image, if you think about it.)
  • Although admission was free for citizens, you couldn't just sit anywhere in the Colosseum. The lowest class had to sit in the top row and the upper class got the floor seats on the arena level.
  • Speaking of the arena, I just learned that the word "arena" comes from the latin word for "sand." Since the arena floor was mostly sand...well, you get it; I don't need to hold your hand through this deduction.
  • The Colosseum has 76 entrances and 4 grand entrances, kind of like an Ikea. The structure was designed so that it could be evacuated in 5 minutes, unlike an Ikea.
  • Here's the best fact I found: Upon touring the Colosseum, director Ridley Scott declared that it was "too small" for his film Gladiator. They ended up designing a fake "Rome of the imagination" set. Psshht. Hollywood.
Well, that's my sleep deficient blog today. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I....ZZZZZZZ. Huh? Wait? Where am I? I think I dozed off at the computer....

Anyway, here's the featured sale item of the day. Oh, hey. It's a Roman Colosseum necklace. What a coincidence. Weird.