Perks of being your own boss… by Chrissi Maria.
South African, Chrissi Maria, spends most of her days as a ghostwriter, copy-writer, researching and writing magazine articles, compiling scripts, or marketing. Chrissi is a most passionate teller of people’s stories, but today she shares her own story of her success and inspiration with you. I trust that Chrissi’s perks of being your own boss will inspire and motivate you!
Perks of being your own boss… by Chrissi Maria.
Yes, there are perks to being your own boss, but if you are expecting to read an upbeat, being my own boss is ever-so-awesome piece of prose, you will need to look elsewhere for an over-zealous self-help source on earning a quick and easy buck as a free agent.
Of course, if I was now off-grid in a place of beauty and tranquility I may be singing an entirely different tune. But more likely than not, I’d have snuck my laptop along with me, because when is it ever an opportune time to drop entirely off the face of this earth?
This is my ninth year going solo. To be truthful it started as a solo journey, but over the years I’ve built a network of people around me that I can rely on to accompany me in my quest to deliver. I know that I’m not the easiest person to work with, and I’m sure they’ve all entertained thoughts of walking away when the going got a bit tough. I guess now is an opportune time to say thanks for sticking around…
Let’s talk a little about tough. As a pen-for-hire, what do I see as my greatest risks? Finding work. Under-quoting. Changes in work scope. Non-payment. Over-extending. The Unexpected (how does one prepare for that?).
Though my German ancestors certainly imparted self-discipline and work ethic, I must have stood incredibly far back in the administrative queue when ‘love-of-paperwork’ was being handed out. Invoicing does not feel like constructive use of my time, which is such a foolish sentiment to have, as without it, we won’t eat. A wise friend once told me that if I don’t do my invoicing immediately on completing a project, then I should do it on Mondays. I listened, and I do. And so should you.
I was lucky to find a client or two soon after leaving the corporate environment, but for the first year I did a lot of work for free, for fun, or for a pittance – all just to keep busy and active. It’s impossible to convert every activity you do into finances, even when you are pretty desperate.
Since year two I have been fortunate enough not to have to actively seek work, as it somehow manages to find me. I must add though that for a good several years, I was not able to pay myself a salary for at least one month a year. This was sometimes during December when others were enjoying their annual bonuses, or in January, as I rarely managed to invoice much during December.
This makes managing your finances pretty important. In my mind its best to keep your business and your personal finances separate. Yes, that means separate accounts. I would recommend paying yourself a monthly salary, and dealing with all the associated SARS compliance, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get some money back on your tax return. Different people will have different recommendations on this – for me separating the two is non-negotiable.
I’m not sure what advice to give to someone just starting out, except to say, find something that will pay your way in the mean time, and while you are waitressing or working in retail or transcribing, make sure you read and write as much as possible – it’s the equivalent of exercising to stay in shape.
In terms of what to read and what to write about, we’re all drawn to different genres, and just as it is with exercising, there is something to suit everyone’s taste. It’s nice to engage with well-written work, that’s nicely laid out, easy to read and flowing. I prefer reading language that is not too complicated and I try to look for reference points that in some way move me.
There are a few columnists and authors that I love to read, and I’m always amazed at every original thought they generate. And I love to laugh. So if I find a writer who makes me laugh, paints a picture in my head through their words, or sucks me right into a dialogue or situation, I’m hooked. Sometimes, when something I read is really powerful, I feel inordinately inadequate. Am I barking up the wrong tree? I’m sure you’re no different, and we just have to deal with the insecurity.
Insecurity comes in many forms, and though I’m definitely not qualified to draw any psychological conclusions, I can say that facing demons is a sure way of earning each piece of that armor of resilience, that will eventually become your second skin. Eight years ago I was still crapping myself before going into a meeting. Today, meeting with a client is just part of the great adventure.
And, an adventure it is. If my opening paragraphs misled you, then I’m sorry. I really do love what I do. But it’s never just plain sailing. Success won’t just find you, because you want it, or you deserve it. You need to commit to it. You also need to decide whether you want to be successful or significant, which is an entirely different conversation, but a thought worth putting out there.
If you have chosen to work for yourself in the hope of a better work-life balance, and find yourself behind a desk from 7 to 7, you are doing something wrong. I’m guilty of this too, and often describe myself as a binger – binge on work, then binge on play. The longest I’ve managed to drop off the grid has been for three consecutive months, which was incredible, and the working period in the lead up to those three months was INTENSE. Add to that, no work, no earn, and you decide…
As a free agent what are my responsibilities? I am responsible for finishing the work I have taken on, within an expected time-line that I’ve agreed to. I am responsible for managing expectations; ensuring my worth to my clients; and delivering projects that I’m proudly associated with.
My greatest perks? I have the luxury of saying “No” to work that I do not want to do. I have the luxury of walking away if I face too great a personal conflict. I plan my schedule, get paid to string sentences together, and have the great privilege of meeting so many fascinating people, many of whom trust me to get their words just right…
Okay, it’s your turn now…
Thanking Chrissi Maria so much for her time and willingness to share her Perks of being your own boss! Chrissi is really a dynamic woman who is always willing to make a difference and share her optimism! You can connect with her at:
If you wish to share your success story with our readers, please feel free to at Guest Blog For Us, I would love to share your inspiration.
Blessed Be and Keep on Writing!