Things I’ll Miss — and Some I Won’t

As I shared in my previous post, I’ve accepted a full-time job as employee communications manager for a Fortune 500 company, so I’m giving up my independent consulting practice after nearly 12 years.

In the interview process, we talked quite a bit about my experiences as a consultant — what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown, the good aspects of self-employment and the bad. As the reality of giving up my business and joining a company has begun to sink in, I’ve had even more time to reflect. I thought I’d share some of the things I’ll miss and some I won’t.

What I’ll Miss

Flexibility with time. One of the great lures of self-employment is that you work on your own schedule. That’s not entirely true; you work when your clients need you, which sometimes can be at odd hours. Still, self-employment does provide some degree of flexibility with your time. I started my business when my sons were 8 and 4; I became a single parent when they were 10 and 6. I’m so grateful that I worked in an office in my home during those years and had more hands-on time with them than a corporate job would have allowed.

Working with a variety of clients. I have had so many wonderful experiences working with so many different people and organizations — some of which I never knew existed. (Who knew there was an entire industry of equipment-leasing brokers and that they had their own trade association?) I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best organizations and some of the best-known brands. But it’s the people and the myriad projects that I’ll really miss.

Growing a business. It’s exciting to start a business from scratch and watch it grow. There’s a different sense of personal fulfillment that is just not the same as you get with a corporate job. You know the success — or the failure — of the enterprise is largely up to you, which can be both a tremendously motivating factor and scary as hell.

Partnering with the best communicators. I’ve been fortunate to team up with some of the most talented people in my industry: Les Potter, Steve and Cindy Crescenzo, Shel Holtz and others. And I loved assembling great teams of people with skills complementary to my own: Katrina Gill of Gill Research, Katie Casler of Casler Design and others. I’ll greatly miss working with one of the best teams of independent contractors joined together for one client: Michele and Jonathan Rhudy of Rhudy & Co. Communications and Marketing, Jennifer Pounders of J. Pounders & Partners, and Wendy Martin of W Communications and Marketing.

What I Won’t Miss

Estimated taxes. Self-employed workers get hammered with taxes, which come due every three months. I am happy to pay my taxes because even with all the government waste this is still a safe country filled with opportunity. But that doesn’t make writing those checks much easier.

Lack of benefits. The cost of my health insurance has skyrocketed over the 12 years I’ve been self-employed. Whenever I took a day or (rarely) a week off, that was a day or week with no income. It will be nice to work for a company that provides great benefits.

The cost of doing business. It’s amazing how many things you take for granted when you work for a company. Copier paper. Toner. IT support. Communication devices. Travel expenses paid up front. They all add up, even if you’re thrifty like I am, and I won’t miss them coming out of my pocket.

Unpredictable income. You can plan and market and work hard, but ultimately your monthly income depends on whether you have clients and how much work they give you. I look back in amazement that I made it sometimes, especially in the early days of my venture. Having a regular paycheck is a luxury I’ll never take for granted.

Loneliness. I am an extrovert, a “people person.” I draw energy from being around others. Although I have done my share of work in the offices of my clients, a great majority of my days were spent in this little office over my garage. The silence can be deafening. I can’t wait to have regular human contact again.

On the whole, I wouldn’t trade the last 12 years for anything. This time has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. But the time is right to leave it behind for the next great adventure. And I can’t wait!


4 Responses

  1. Robert – I completely understand every word of this post! Well said. This will be a great new chapter for you at just the right time!

  2. Ditto – great post. Best of luck in the new role!

  3. Robert, doggone you, you made me cry! I’m so happy for you but miss our special team so much already. You are a dear and special friend to us with a good soul and many talents. We love you!

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