Sunday, January 15, 2006

Getting Started in Self Employment

With the new year I feel compelled to return to my central subject: Self-Employment for Bohemians.

How does the creative, self-directed person start down the path of self-employment? I've written about my own process of falling into the life--in fact these writings are buried deep in the archives of this very blog. I'd like to address the question of getting started in the general sense, maybe put out some information that will be helpful to souls ready to take the plunge.

Simply put, there is a self-selection process involved. How the hell else are you going to end up working for yourself?! But really, let's assume we have a creative, independent individual with no desire to hold down a regular job. In fact, the very prospect of having a job should put this person in a cold sweat. If this sounds familiar, we're on the right track! Our candidate made hold a regular job even though self-employment is preferred (in case they want to eat, buy toilet paper, stuff like that...).

What happens as our prospect works a regular job for some other person or company? They spend every working minute scheming about how to escape. For me, any time I had a nine to five gig, I would spontaneously generate marketing plans in my mind for the self-employment scheme that would allow me to escape. It was the central focus of my life. Get the hell out of this shit hole dead end boring job now!

Again, I've written elsewhere about my personal experience on the road to being gainfully, happily self employed; I've covered the specifics about what got me there. What about those who wish to start with self employment now? It's twenty years later than when I took the plunge. The market place is different. Technology is wildly different! While some of my experiences and anecdotes are still valid, there has to be new wrinkles that an ingenious person of modest means can bring to bear on the project of self-employment.

Clearly, a lot of them have to do with using the web in an informed and effective manner. Me, I just worked my way through The Complete Idiot's Guide to Growing Your Business With Google by Dave Taylor. I highly recommend it. I will also say, if you want to make it on your own, you have to talk to people. Yes, actual people. In the field, face to face. Potential clients. Competitors. Anyone who has anything to do with your area of expertise. So don't just sit staring at a screen all day, wondering where all the clients are!

The preceding is my way of admiting that I might have limited insight into the nuts & bolts of starting in self-employment in today's environment. I know what has worked for me in the past, and I know what works for me in the present. I also know what fails for me! I must conclude that my best advice for a brave soul embarking on self-employment today would be specific to their case. Given that, I would like to extend an invitation to one and all to comment on this entry with specific queries about their situation as they consider self employment. I will answer one and all to the best of my ability.

Steve Lafler

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Enemies List Lost

The following proves that there is a little Dick Nixon in all of us...

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution type of guy. Mostly because I have my life in (relative) order. I work for myself and I like it. I don’t have piles of high interest credit card debt. I've been a runner since I was a kid; it keeps me both sane and fit.

But here’s this funny thing—I’ve always been one of those “turn the other cheek” types. It works for me. Recently, however, I have been going over things and people that have pissed me off—major and minor—over the course of my whole life. Is this repressed anger? Some latent volcanic eruption that I just can't hold in anymore?

Beats me, but here it is, a partial list of long forgotten enemies & their crimes:

1. The people who beat up my brother in high school because he was gay (I don’t even know their names!).

2. Reviewers for the Comics Journal who don’t like my work.

3. An old girlfriend who boffed a clown behind my back. Yes, the guy was literally a clown!

That’s enough of that. We could all make similar lists that go on and on and on. The question is: Why do I care now? This is stuff that happened decades ago, for the most part!

I’m fond of saying hindsight is 50/50. I know, it’s really “hindsight is 20/20”. Somehow, I think the 50/50 works better here. I leave it to the reader to ponder that one.

This brings me to my New Year’s Resolution for 2006. I’ve finally realized what I need to do! I will compose a detailed ENEMIES LIST.

Then I will promptly throw it away.