Article below was written by Boey Ping Ping titled “There’s no place like home” and was published in The Star paper on 20 June 2009. Her thoughts and experience are still relevant today as it did almost 10 years ago. I was not able to trace the article online and decide to type out the entire article from scratch because I find it inspirational.
They tell you it’s a 9-to-5 job during the interview, but nobody leaves at 5pm, except the boss…and the cleaning lady. It’s been two years since I last filled up a leave form or had to brace myself for the pong coming out from the office toilet.
Ever since I decided to go solo- solo practice that is- I work from the comfort and convenience of my home. I wake up when I’ve enough sleep; enjoy sinfully long lunches, go on impromptu trips and leave my ‘office’ anytime I want. Working from home allows you an amazing flexibility you’ll never counter, unless you work at Google where work and play co-exist.
Let’s face it, not everyone is a morning person, or enjoys the company of their colleagues. Some work well with the piped-in music, some work better at night, while others like me work best without the incessant ring of the phone or a foul-mouthed colleague who swears at anything and everything.
While others swapped full-time jobs for self-employment to spend more time with the family, I had a different agenda. I quit because I was in a dead-end job with no future of a promotion or change. Unlike some who avoid change the way they do their mother-in-law, I welcome the challenge of a new beginning.
With a tummy-rumbling hunger for an opportunity to explore new experiences, I took a leap of faith and hedged on my reputation and resume to survive my journey through uncharted territory. One year later, I was on track and this time, there was no looking back.
While my previous resume had read fashion buyer and journalist, the updated one saw me tackling the role of editor of a wedding publication, providing content for websites, writing that irregular article, churning out press releases, doing PR work and helping to co-ordinate events.
Recently, I started up my own event management company after receiving numerous requests by companies to handle their PR and brand development activities.
Being your own boss
After 10 years of guaranteed pay cheques and fat year-end bonuses, I had trepidations about inconsistent income. Would I still be able to indulge my cravings for sushi and sashimi? Could I enjoy the occasional retail splurge? Should I suffer the bosses rather than being my own boss?
It helped that I had built up a mountain of contracts. These connections provided me with a steady stream of work that paid the bills. But nothing increases the business like a satisfied customer. A happy client is one that recommends you to other clients and inadvertently act as your ‘marketing manager’.
While I was happy to escape the humdrum of work schedules, I missed the witty comebacks and mentally stimulating conversations provided by like-minded colleagues.
Isolation from workmates can take a toll on social butterflies. To brush off loneliness, I try to schedule a casual lunch or weekly tea with friends to catch up on the latest news.
Being a home-based entrepreneur means there’s no bureaucracy at work. you can make your own decisions and respond immediately.
In short, you’re in control. People always ask me whether it takes discipline to be self-employed. Well, if you don’t plan to be homeless and starving that’s enough inspiration for you to meet your deadlines!
My studio apartment doesn’t have a partition which means my computer sits next to my flat screen TV while my bed isn’t far behind. The temptation to catch a snooze is always there. But when a job needs to be finished, it gets done even if it means working until four in the morning.
Financial security vs personal freedom.
Sure the pay cheque isn’t regular but that’s not always a problem. Sometimes I earn less, sometimes I earn more, and somehow, it all balances out.
You learn in a short time how to manage your funds and make the best of what you have. But the most rewarding aspect of a self-employed entrepreneur is that your earning potential is dependant on your performance.
Anyhow, I probably save more working from home. For one, I don’t have to battle the peak hour traffic which means less money spent on petrol and car maintenance. I don’t need that many pairs of shoes as I’m practically in my hotel slippers. Plus, I save on storage space and won’t end up with blisters and foot aches.
It doesn’t matter whether I am working in an old, tattered T-shirt or stripped naked of makeup. No one would be the wiser. Instead of trying desperately to match the pieces of my wardrobe, I can sit back, relax and catch the latest episode of Desperate Housewives.
And all that money saved goes into my vacation fund. Oh, and I don’t waste time complaining about the boss anymore which leaves me more time to make money.
Crisis breeds opportunity
I’ll admit self-employment isn’t for everyone. But for those who feel they can contribute more or weren’t given the promotion they deserve, this is the chance of a lifetime. All the experience and skills you’ve gained in your workplace will help you move on to the next stage of your career- being your own boss.
Your earning potential isn’t limited to one profession. You’re free to learn and perform a variety of roles. You’re able to explore other work-related tasks that could increase the credibility of your resume and enhance your personal growth.
Crisis breeds opportunity. Who knows? This recession might just be the catalyst that brings out the entrepreneurial spirit in you. Because it’s high time people pay for your skills and expertise, not for coming to work on time.
Change is never easy but being mediocre is just not for me.