Going to an office makes me die a little inside and why I love being a solo entrepreneur
I used to want to build an empire that included beautiful offices and legions of employees, but for right now (and the foreseeable future), I'm really content to live and work from home (and occasionally go into my clients' offices).*
At various points in my career I did hire office space. I'd enthusiastically decorate those offices...and then never show up. I think I'm still receiving mail at one office in Virginia.
My home office is my castle, and as I get ready for the baby, I am even more thankful that I get to work chez moi.
I love that I can throw in a load of laundry, make my lunch/snacks and take a nap any time I choose (outside of client meetings and appointments of course).
I love the freedom of not having to be at an office at a specified time every day of the week.
I tried that for about five months in 2003. It was so hard for me! (Though my favorite part of going to said office was definitely picking out my clothing and accessories.)
Once I actually arrived at my first ever office (as executive director of a non-profit in NYC), I wilted. I had a pretty nice private office for a 22 year old and I was depressed.
At the time I thought it was perhaps the job and the city. I couldn't peg my discontent to the actual structure of my days.
I couldn't articulate then what I know now:
- I like to make my own schedule
- Routine is actually a big part of my life, but with flexibility
- I prefer to work in silence
- I like space in my schedule (no back-to-back meetings for me)
- Most commercial office environments leave me (a highly sensitive person) simultaneously wound up and exhausted
But the typical workplace doesn't accommodate people like me very well. Even at a company as unique at Bloomberg (they of the daily creative agua fresca concoctions and FREE insurance), you're expected to be in at 8 am.
During the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, my hubs and I drove up to Bloomberg (into the light!) every day so that both of us could work. (He works there every day. I only in extreme emergencies.)
I so appreciated not being stuck at home in the dark and actually having internet and cell service.
But by the end of the week I was so enervated that I thought I might have to retreat to some remote location outside NYC to regroup.
The bright lights! The constant talking! Seas of computers! Even the conference rooms had translucent walls. Privacy could only be had in the ladies. Forget about a nap. Snacks, however, were plentiful.
Justin laughed because I could barely make it a week in the typical "bullpen" office set up that characterizes modern corporate America. For the Bloombergians, the place was a ghost town that week. Apparently fewer than half the employees were in the office because of the storm damage. God help me on a day when everyone would be there.
Clearly I am not meant to be among the hard charging armies clad in black heading to offices between 8 am and 10 am M-F.
And for that self-awareness I am thankful.
It's taken some years (I've been self-employed since 2004); I haven't always made enough money to live comfortably; and I have probably missed out on some crucial socialization from not having worked at a corporate job EVER. (I have about nine months of employment history. Total.)
I think I've finally found the work flow and work space that works for me.
I love that I don't have to sit at a desk illuminated by florescent lights, except when I'm in a client's place of work.
I love that a walk around the park or quick trip up to the deck on the roof can restore flagging energy.
I love that I can burn a candle, meditate or do a couple of yoga poses to lighten up my headspace.
I love that I get excited to go out into the world to work in a cafe (occasionally) or to go to client offices for meetings.
As for the solo part of solo entrepreneur, I'm not really by myself, except in my space.
I'm on the phone or meeting with clients in person for many hours a week. I work with at least 10 vendors regularly, two of whom do come to my place for some of that work. The rest are far flung in Michigan and Colorado, Pennsylvania and soon Kansas.
Recently I tried having my admin come in and work with me at the house. After an hour or so I would be ready to have my space back so that I could take a nap or just be alone.
Even though she's in NYC, she now does most of her tasks remotely. When we meet, I prefer a cafe.
It has nothing to do with her and everything to do with my work style.
Thank God I have had the chutzpah and encouragement from my friends and family and now my husband to keep on this path!
So, what supports your best work? What do you know now about your work style that you didn't know when you started your business?
*By occasionally I mean enough to do good work and little enough that it remains a novelty.