(I found this post that I wrote before I took a job working at a juice bar. There are various reasons why I did this, most notably to find my “main hustle”, which requires a great deal of soul searching. The juice bar job gave me the space and security to feel safe exploring. But I thought these words were interesting, and have a different perspective now, so here it is!
I am writing this post after a year of successful self-employment. It will consist of 1) why I did it 2) how I did it and 3) what I recommend based on my experience
Why I did it
I was born into poverty! In Boston, MA, my mother was a school teacher and my father held pickup jobs at bookstores, and worked as a janitor. My father told me at a very young age (and quite mournfully) that at some point I would have to submit to someone’s authority. I’m not sure what happened in his life to generate this world view, but the energy with which he said it was so hopeless that I almost immediately began to lose trust in him. (Authority and trust are two concepts that I will weave into this post, as they both play a very important part in my decision making process.) Looking back on the way that my father chose to raise me, he actually did me a huge favor. Because he chose to exercise unquestionable authority, and because I was naturally a curious child, I learned that “authority”, as represented in my mind by my Dad, didn’t have all the answers! Throughout my entire childhood and early adulthood, I had trust issues because of it. But these trust issues caused me to question. I questioned authority, silently at first, around 7 years old. Then when I was 16 and could drive, I rebelled outright against my father’s control issues by getting a girlfriend (it was implied that I was to be there for my parent’s emotional support when they got divorced.) If this sounds strange, that’s because it is! I grew up in a dysfunctional family.
In a dysfunctional family, the dynamics are such that much of the time the parents had unmet needs when they were children. Instead of dealing with it (many don’t), often times what happens is they look to their children to fulfill that need. It’s really not ok; it is abusive and detrimental in many ways to growing a healthy adult. In my childhood there was much physical abuse, covert contracts, and boundary violations. I don’t need to get into specifics, but I’m sharing this because I know I’m not the only one who experienced this! Since I’ve had much time to reflect and heal, let’s get back to the positives.
The takeaway from all this is that I learned that blindly following authority was insufficient. It didn’t work to get me needs met, and I didn’t want to end up like my Dad. I just wanted to party, have sex, and play music in bands. And into my early 20’s, I did that! It was a great way to distract myself from the emotional resonance of years of living in a dysfunctional family. Also, It was fucking fun 😛
Here’s the meat of the story: When I was 25, because of financial reasons, I moved back in with my Dad. I felt so defeated at the time: I had just broken up with a very close girlfriend, I was broke financially, and internally. To top it all off, my dad had not out-grown his authoritarian control and expressly forbade me from having women over (first at night, then when I broke that rule, AT ALL). Yeah, I was 25, remember?!
I enjoy the company of women. But basically he was forbidding me from being and adult in the way I wanted to be, which I could not tolerate. So what did I do? I got a job. First at the movie theater, but that was only part time and I didn’t enjoy ripping tickets and policing and being disrespected by movie-goers. So I quit around Christmas 2013. Then, I got unknowingly involved with a pyramid scheme of sorts with an insurance company. I studied my ass off and passed the state insurance exam in about 3 weeks time. Then I started my business of insuring families – life insurance. The only thing was, I didn’t know how to generate good leads! It felt very incongruent to put out a vibe of success and being able to handle something as important as a death in the family when I was still unhappy and living in my dads house. To top it all off, I didn’t make much money, and my trainer kept stealing my business. I didn’t have the gall or confidence or self-respect to stand up for myself and tell him to stop. So I failed at that.
Next I put myself in the position to get a customer service job. I auditioned for a temp agency that worked for a very large corporation (Disney). The customer service warehouse was located about 10 minutes from my Dad’s house, so it was convenient. I worked for Disney for about 5 months. It was tough work emotionally, as anyone in the customer service industry knows. Especially as an empath, I absorbed much of the toxic energy through the phone. It felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, and there was no where to turn.
I actually may have shot myself in the foot with this one. I’ll explain why. I was probably one of the best representatives they had! In evaluations, after about 2 months I was in the top 5. They quickly promoted me to floor manager (I was the guy that customers talked to when they said “Can I speak with your suprvisor?”. That was incredibly emotionally taxing, because I didn’t feel like I got any support from my superiors. I was just a barrier to them. I hated it! So, I looked for other opportunities, and a friend hooked me up with a delivery job in midtown memphis. I was already planning on leaving when the talent agency offered me a position in the coveted “loss prevention” department. I would get 4 extra dollars an hour, and it would be behind the scenes work instead of front-line stuff. As an introvert, i probably could have thrived in that position. But, I already had my sights on the delivery job where I could be in my car and listen to my music and dress however I wanted. This decision was probably an unconscoius relfection of my learned distaste for authority and also my trust issues at the time. I didn’t trust the authority to take care of my needs. I have learned since that standing up for oneself is the first step to getting ones needs met, but i lacked the personal confidence and dignity that I have now. Plus, they offered me the Loss Prevention job with the caveat that they needed me for the busy season (Halloween-Christmas) and that I would have the chance to sign on with Disney (not the temp agency) if I did a good job. Of course I would have done a good job – i was obsessed with over-performing because I did not feel like I was ever inherently good enough (good for them, not for Tim!).
So I quit. I just stopped going in. My delivery job picked up, and I moved in August 2014 to my own apartment, paying my own rent, working weekends, but feeling much better about not living under my fathers roof.
BUT this is a story about self employment, right? Well, moving out of my dad’s and supporting myself was an important step in this journey. I worked that delivery job for a year, and saved up about $5,000. It’s not alot, but it was $5,000 more than I had a year before! I started hating the job though – my boss was disrespectful (and authoritarian like my Dad!)
How I did it
I have a friend who had been self-employed for some time and when we’d get together we would talk about wealth, time-freedom, and the benefits of self-employement and owning a business. He helped me to create ideas about how to support myself and make my own money. I had always been a musician, but I stopped playing because I didn’t like being underpaid to play in smoky bars and get little sleep. But, i had at times an occasional solo jazz gig at a retirement community. Jack helped me craft a plan to talk with activities directors at retirement communities and book enough gigs to support myself. Also, too, he had an open room in his house that I moved into, which was a load off because It was stupid cheap rent. Really, I was paying less than $200 a month for rent!
I remember that first month – I had a goal to reach $1,000 in gigs, and I surpassed it! It felt so amazing to do so. I was on top of the world! In memphis, you can find renting situations that are very cheap because property values are low. This was a huge help too.
What I reccomend based on my experience
As a self-employed person, I have become increasingly aware of the value of my time. When you’re employed, you generate a specific amount no matter how dead or inspired you feel. When self-employed, if you can anticipate the times you will feel inspired, you can time that with your value creation process. I’m getting a little ahead, so lets break it down to some practical advice on making the transition from employed to self employed.
1) Have a safety net. I worked to save up $5,000. This helped to cover my expenses and give me peace of mind. That way if I had a bad month, I could survive long enough to hit the next month extra hard. I can’t stress how important this was for me to relax and jump into the change.
2) Learn how to make money. This seems like a given, but going from employed to self-employed forces you to change your way of viewing things. As an employee, your earning potential is capped. When you are self-employed, your earning potential is dependent on the amount of value you can create for others. Ask yourself: What is the single most value producing thing you can do? For me, at the time, it was playing an hour piano performance at retirement communities. I was already good at it because I had studied piano in college, and I had one reoccuring quarterly gig at a prestigous retirement communiy in Memphis. I knew that many retirement communities in Memphis had a budget for entertainment already, so it was up to me to tap into that. I learned to sell myself by focusing on rapport building (my insurance training came in handy here!). I would walk into a community, speak with the activities dircetor, build rapport, and causally ask If I could see their piano, under the guise that I would check it out to make sure it was in tune. This had the subtle effect of creating even more value for them on the front end, which helps them to be open to reciprocating. If you go into a sales situation thinking only of what you can get out of it, your focus is off. Focus instead on how you can create value for the other person. In this case I was creating value by checking the tuning on their piano for free. Then, I would wow them with some flashy trills. More value on the front end. Notice that I didn’t have a recording to give them through all of this. I do recommend a recording, but don’t let them take the recording if you don’t have a change to build value on the front end. Physically driving up there and speaking face-to-face helped me to generate much better rapport than a phone-call or email.
Another thing I learned is that you have to treat customers like any other relationship. After the intitial sale, it’s bad form to imeadiatly rush into asking for reoccuring (monthly) business. That would be like going out on a first date and expect to be in a relationship automatically. You need to take time to let things blossom naturally. Stay in communication, but do so politely, from the perspective of adding value and making their life easier.
For exmaple, showing up to a gig with an invoice makes the activities director’s life easier! Do it.
I have several reoccuring monthly gigs at these communities now, but only after I allowed a significant amount of time to pass. It takes time to build trust, so do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. At first I was frustrated with the amount of time it took to build this trust because I was afraid of not having enough money, but now I can see that it actually gave me time to learn which communiteis I liked working with and which I didn’t. So it was a selection process for me too.
I’ve been supporting myself on these gigs for a year now! I also have learned to supplement my income in other ways. For example, I also teach Reiki at a local yoga studio and give sessions to people who want it. This is another example of how I’m adding value with my time.
Moving forward, Focus on multipliers
As I move forward, I am focusing on multipliers. A year of self-employment has given me the insight that as long as I am creating value (that people will pay for!), I am successful and can pay my bills. I believe that once you figure money out, your life because very easy. If money is an issue, the engine of life remains un-oiled. Money lubricates the flow of life. This is my reality, and I am creating it.
About 7 months into my self-employement, I had lox and lattes with a good friend of mine, another self-employed man. He owns a contruction and investment firm. I explained to him that I anticipated getting burnt out creatively on my nursing home gigs around August. I had an idea to sell my contracts to different retirement communities, but now I want to get into a different business. Ultimatly, I learned that retirement communities money moves about a month slow. In other words, I create value (play the gig), and get paid about a month later. I hated this! I want my money to move fast, so I can spend or invest it faster. I believe that the speed of money and money multipliers are the keys to wealth, and wealth is important to me.
So now I’m at the place in my life where it seems like the only thing left to do is work on cultivating new income streams. I’ll update you as I go. Keep in mind that I’m not quitting the gigs cold-turkey; I’m still playing them and respecting these relationships. They pay my bills. I do have time freedom to write blog posts, create more value, build more relationships, and learn about what other ways I can help people and make money.
This is not the endof the journey, but it is the end of the blogpost! I hope that my journey can serve as some inspiration to you for the future, and maybe get you thinking about the different ways that you can take control of your life and your financial future. Don’t spend money you don’t have, but do focus on creating more value for others in mutually win-win situations. Play with a bunch of ideas, see what you like, see what people will pay for, and when you find an idea that does both, run with it! Get support of friends who have been there before (like i did with mine). Surround yourself with people that are where you want to be a learn from them. Listen more. Let them express their wealth vibration. The more you listen, the better you will pick up on subtle things that they do or embody that you can emulate. Learn, Learn, Learn, and stay positive. Your Neo-Cortex will help you decide what the next right move is. If you get stuck, ask yourself “What is my next right move?” For me, It’s working on creating a Reiki course for massage practitioners in need of CEUS! We’ll see how that goes. I’m excitied about it because of it’s multiplier capabilities (aka scalability).
Ok that’s it for me. See you next time!
UPDATE: For various reasons, about three months after i wrote this post, I decided to get a job at a juice bar. Why? Did I fail? No, of course not! My businesses and side hustle are still going on, but I am changing.
i don’t want to just work on side hustles as self employment income – what’s my MAIN hustle? Is it the juice bar? at the moment, yes, in that I am doing 25-30 hours a week there, but c’mon – that’s just part time anyways!
My main hustle has been writing Igby, a sci-fi/fantasy novel. What will this look like in the future? I don’t know! But I plan to add value to other’s lives by creating an enjoyable book.
I feel that this is a topic for another post, but until next time, keep on!