I saw this on a bumper sticker this morning and it really made me laugh. Moments before I could feel my stress level rise as I was maneuvering through extremely heavy morning commute traffic to get to a supplier meeting. I spotted the slogan at the same moment I wondered, “How can people do this every day?!”
Working from home means “No More Rush-Hour.” Being my own boss means that in most cases I can control my appointments. I realized this morning it took me nearly an hour to go 20 miles. Do you realize how much time is wasted sitting in traffic? Not to mention the stress and anxiety you endure when traffic doesn’t move the way it should. Rush-hour is just bad, no matter how you look at it.
It doesn’t matter if you use that time to reflect on your day, chit-chat on your cell or learn to speak French with your audio course – it’s still something that I’m betting we can all do without. No more rush-hour means you won’t be wasting gas. No more rush-hour also means you don’t have to worry about driving on icy bridges, sliding on slick roads, or navigating in the middle of a “can’t see 5 feet in front of me” downpour.
There are some things I do miss from my corporate days, of course — namely the certainty of the steady paycheck, company subsidized health insurance, a ‘help desk’ to call when my computer acts up (turns out a good challenge stretches my creativity muscles and builds knowledge), and the company cafeteria on days when my cupboard is bare. But none of those wonderful things were enough to keep me from setting out in search of a better lifestyle and sense of control of my business; namely the flexibility to keep non-traditional hours if I want to, doing work that is personally fulfilling and the freedom to run the business exactly as I want.
Now I enjoy always getting the “employee of the month” parking space that comes with being a home-based travel business. I’ve built a network of colleagues and clients who make me feel like I’m part of a much larger enterprise, so I haven’t really experienced much of the downside of feeling isolated.
At some point, everyone has dreamed about starting their own business. Whether it’s selling travel, cosmetics and beauty products, marketing your own personal invention or selling drop-ship items through eBay, there’s just something really intriguing and sexy about the idea of being your own boss. And you know what? They’re right.
The transition from working for an employer to being self-employed for me didn’t happen overnight. I finally took the big leap in 1992, and the experience has been both amazing and enlightening. There are good days and bad days. There is joy and despair. There are pluses and minuses. Self-employed doesn’t mean you love everything you do. At times, I have bent over backwards to appease clients that drove me crazy. But then I remind myself that I have the freedom of choice to keep these clients, or fire them if their demands get totally out of hand.
I can laugh now at some of the stories about my clients. I remember arranging a limo for a high-end client, and going to their house to make sure that their ride was on time. The client looked very appreciative and came out with a bouquet of flowers. My first thought was “How thoughtful!” Then she added a bag of groceries? Out next came a goldfish! I was being asked to drive the flowers, groceries and the client’s gold fish across town to a daughter’s house so that the fish could be taken care of while the clients were on vacation.
How dumb I felt when I realized that the flowers weren’t for me, but for the daughter. As I was driving the water was swishing out of the fish bowl. I kept praying that the fish wouldn’t die en route. When I arrived at the daughter’s house I quickly looked for a water hose to refill the bowl to save the fish. Talking about going above and beyond!
It’s also the rewards that make the tradeoffs worthwhile. Being able to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives is very powerful. Like sending a couple on a romantic honeymoon, seeing kids eyes when booking a first time Disney vacation for a family, or planning a family reunion cruise. To see these types of reactions is why I love to hand deliver documents and gift baskets to my clients. The anticipation and excitement of my clients is what makes what I chose to do for a living all worthwhile.
“Forget about the fast lane. If you want to fly, just harness your power to your passion. Honor your calling. Everybody has one. Trust your heart and success will come to you. “~ Oprah
Anita Pagliasso is the author of “How I Made A Small Fortune as a Home-Based Travel Agent” “From Home-Based to POWERHOUSE” and “Anita’s Toolbox for Home-Based Agents CD”(www.redticketproductions.com), President, Host Agency Ticket To Travel (www.travelagentathome.com), Travel Agent Forum Conference Director, and PATH President & Executive Board Member. Finally Anita is also a professional educator with The Travel Institute, www.thetravelinstitute.com.