21st Century Sweatshop

I am republishing this article I wrote some time ago because some of you readers should be exploring alternatives to corporate life. Becoming an entrepreneur or a professional consultant or counselor may be the answer to your future security.
21st Century SweatshopIn the 21st century, you can easily put in a grueling 10 hour work day without ever leaving your home. Sometimes the biggest problem is pacing yourself. You can get involved in solving a knotty design problem and work non-stop for hours on end. Interruptions are few and they come mostly from four-footed members of the family who are checking if its time to be fed again.

The availability of fresh air and sunshine does wonders for my peace of mind and my morale. Under these conditions I am able to produce more work for my clients now than I ever could in a cubicle farm or even in my own private corporate office.

At the same time, I can find time to have coffee with friends or clients on a moments notice, if I want to.

I make sure that I spend at least 20% of my time marketing my services or thinking up new services to exchange for income. The absence of forced commuting gives me two to three hours of extra time every day for work, study or relaxation.

As a self-employed entrepreneur, I have no corporate safety net, no corporate insurance, but I don’t have layers of inert or timid management to placate either.

When I was employed, even though I considered myself a top performer in my particular area, I worried constantly about corporate changes that would result in loss of income. The biggest discovery on leaving the corporate world was realizing how illusory the corporate safety actually was.

Many executives and ordinary employees are only 90 days away from having to find another job. After 50, this can be a real challenge and last up to 18 months. After 70, you can probably forget anything except being a Wall-Mart greeter or a hospital volunteer.

I can call the shots and bear the responsibility of being wrong or being right on target without the immense burden of trying to deal with increasingly frightened senior management who don’t really know what they want, but “they’ll know it when they see it.”

My clients are also self-employed so they can make decisions quickly and they are clear about their priorities and their concerns. The net result is that the balance of execution time to planning time is almost ten to one.

In the corporate projects I was involved in, the planning and supervision time was usually equal to and sometimes greater then the execution time. That kind of corporate activity shoots the overhead costs through the roof. There is so much checking and assessing and rechecking and testing the political waters that progress of any kind is quite slow in large corporations.

As an army of one,or two or three, you might find yourself overextended, but the ratio of productive to non-productive time is so great that your efficiency often makes up for your lack of resources and your lack of corporate stature.

You might as well get good at being a small business owner because that is increasingly becoming the way to guarantee yourself a lifetime job.

The freedom to decide what you are going to work on and when you are going to do the work is becoming a compelling argument for self employment for more and more people.

There is plenty of work out here, by the way. You just have to learn how to find it and produce what is needed and wanted. It isn’t rocket science.

This entry was posted in Basic Business Concepts, Challenges to overcome, Dealing with hard times, Doing What You Love. Bookmark the permalink.

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