Friday, October 15, 2010

What To Be or What Not To Be: What I Learned from My Freelancing Father

Everyone has a couple traits they see in their parents that they knowingly avoid or attempt to counteract-- I will never be a gossip like my mother or I promise to be a much better driver then my father. There are also many characteristics that we may aspire to and consciously pass on to our own seedlings.

That said, if you have the fortune/misfortune of being a spawn of a business owner, freelancer, or independent contractor you may have some "tips-of-the-trade" to emulate or all out avoid like the nightly door-to-door cake sales man (yes, I have one of these).

My father is an independent contractor that specializes in telecommunications construction. He runs the show from home and sends out his workers to repair phone lines across the city. It sounds all well and good, but I have seen home base and his business shortcomings have strung together in my mind like frantically flapping red flags over a used car dealership.

Here are some mantras I have concocted to help me avoid his business blunders:

Bills should be paid. Unless you want to spend your days screening phone calls for debt collectors or praying to the big man/woman every time your credit card is swiped, I would stick to a payment schedule while controlling your spending from day one. Bridges will burn if you don't show your subcontractor, landlord, or utility company the money.

You don't need 1,000 blue work shirts. Hint: if your closet is bursting at the seams with blue and brown button-downs, the last thing you need is a new shopping bag full of the same. Less is more.

Mail does not go on the floor. A floor-sized filing system never works the way you expect. Sure, if it's on the ground and you never clean it up, you have essentially "stored" it, but how will you relocate important invoices and other business records? File once a day to keep the clutter at bay.

Take care of your computer. It's not just there to service you, you need to service it too. That all sounds strangely sexual, but if your computer decides to check-out, due to out-dated virus software or a family reunion of dust bunnies going on in your air vent, you're up the creek without a paddle let alone your business GPS.

Your office space is not a jungle gym for cats. My dad is a fan of animals, so when he lovingly took in a family of cats he probably didn't consider their thanks would be the slow and diabolical destruction of his office space. Claim your business space and let nothing mess with it; be it man or beast.

Living paycheck-to-paycheck royally blows. Speaking from the point-of-view of someone who has experienced the effects firsthand, it is dizzying to not know whether you're coming or going. This method of financial (not)planning will always impact the people around you, no matter how much if a rock or an island you claim to be.

To his credit, he has also brought some positive strategies to the table, here are a few:
Stay calm in crisis. Fantically flapping with worry will not help you find a solution. Relax, step back, and follow your gut.

Savor the flavor. Busy working folk often take food for granted, but oh man is it good (especially Peruvian food).

Talk to the animals. That is, have a hobby that allows you an interaction with the natural world. My dad has owned a goat farm for years now--he has chickens, geese, fruit trees, ducks, a veggie garden, and, of course, a bunch of stinky goats.

Overall, we can learn a lot from studying a lifestyle other than our own. Though we may resist, we often take on several traits our parental units pass along; we mix and muddle strengths and flaws in order to create a unique cocktail that's all our own. Thanks for the tips Dad, no olives in mine, cheers.BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

1 comment:

  1. haha, all very true. Always good to take a step back an analyze a freelancer.