I always wanted to work for myself. Back in the day when I was trying to be a scientist (really) I talked about setting up a consultancy with my mate Dave.
Actually that would be have been quite a good idea. Dave had many of the right qualities for someone who wants to make a success running their own business.
I do not.
I did run a small business with someone. Like many things in my life it was an unusual businesses proposition. Essentially a global energy giant wrote us a large cheque once a year and then we went around making them feel bad about it. When the attraction of this palled for them we wound the company up and laid a bunch of people off. It was an experience I found very difficult and it put me off employing people.
Running a company is very different to working for yourself. It’s a social act for a start. Other people are involved in a shared enterprise. Even if you are the boss you are part of something larger than yourself.
You are “Ben Proctor from X” ((You probably won’t be “Ben Proctor” from anywhere but you get the general point. If you are Ben Proctor let me say “howdy”. I would say “what a coincidence” but let’s face it you probably picked this blog because of the name of the author. If not I apologise. Great name buddy!)) rather than “Ben Proctor the slightly awkward” There are people to argue with about the milk rota, to shout at, to have illicit affairs with ((I’m just floating options here, not speaking from experience)).
So what was it that drew me to self employment?
I never liked doing what I was told. I do not like having a boss (even though I have had some great bosses over the years).
I do not like obeying an arbitrary set of rules or undertaking tasks that I believe will not help, are not well thought out or will get me covered in jam I really hate punching the clock or just being at my desk because it is the time when people have to be at their desks.
Anyway in my head freelancing is associated with freedom, with throwing off the shackles of bureaucracy, with sticking it to the man.
So when my job started to get tough in 2008 naturally I began to think about going it alone.
I was working in local government. I had rather enjoyed my work but we were in the throes of being merged with other councils. I didn’t fancy my chances in the new council. There was nothing interesting to do in the old council ((Nothing interesting for a man of my temperament. My colleagues were fully engaged in the fields of protecting vulnerable people, supporting the economy and looking after the environment.)). I began to float around the offices pale and wan. I would sigh heavily. Ennui ensued.
My colleagues, of course, faced similar challenges and they dealt with them in three main ways
1. Getting on with it. Doing the job they were paid to do to the best of their ability and waiting to see what turned up.
2. Applying for other, better jobs in other, better places.
3. Drinking heavily.
Freedom called to me from the landing.
And there was the possibility of getting a dog ((My leaving gift was a dog basket. Dogs and their strong link to failing at freelancing might be something we return to)).