We all take orders from someone…

The employee in a large corporation receives orders about his production, his location, and his attitude while he is working. To the extent that these orders actually help him do his work and avoid punishment, the orders are regarded as a necessary evil and are even welcomed when skillfully given.

When the orders attempt to exert bad control over the employee’s actions, the employee rightfully regards the orders as an unnecessary evil. Bad control is starting something, them interrupting it with a contrary order or starting something else that interferes with the first order given. Some managers specialize in this bizarre exercise. We generally refer to them as morons.

Corporate employees may look with envy at the "carefree" artisan or independent businessman and think how wonderful it must be to give orders instead of taking them. This is an absolutely incorrect view of how the world actually works.

We all take orders from someone. The only difference between a corporate employee and the self-employed business person is that the self-employed business person has more flexibility in deciding who they take orders from and what the orders are.

As a self-employed person, your biggest problem is finding someone
to buy your wares or services. When you finally find that person, you
need to persuade them to part with money in exchange for your wares or

Usually, there is a negotiation about price, delivery, quantities,
and payment. If delivery occurs at a later point in time, there may be
another, more strident  negotiation about price, delivery, quantities,
and payment. Basically, a negotiation is an attempt to determine an
acceptable range of orders and responses, and responsibilities.

If you provide goods or services to a client, the initial stages of
the relationship are usually spent in deciding what orders you are
willing to accept from the client and negotiating a relationship that
works for both of you. Once the relationship is established, you are
given orders by the client and you try to follow them to the best of
your ability.

Building contractors have long and colorful histories of clients
giving orders that produce unintended and unsatisfactory results.

There is an old dictum that says that the best leaders are also able
to take orders. You can use this to your advantage in many situations
simply by considering what orders you would give to yourself if you
were your boss, or your customer, or your client.

You might find that this exercise of putting yourself outside your
current situation and looking at it from an exterior viewpoint will
give you some insight on what you could do to resolve your current

You may find a solution that will put you in command of your life
again. At the very least, you will become part of the solution instead
of remaining part of the problem.

Wishing you success…

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0 Responses to We all take orders from someone…

  1. When I first took the plunge into web design, I still had a day job. I used the web to figure out the mechanics of being self employed, and kept running into all of these sites that talked about CEO’s working 89-90 hours a week.

    I laughed.

    Sandwiching in the business was about 5 hours a day in the evening after everybody had gone to bed, and about that much on the weekends
    So starting out in business with my day job, already had me at 75 hours a week.

    When I went full time, the pace increased. 12-14 hours a day. Very little of it at the computer actually coding websites.

    I had to go get the business. Meet clients, have meetings, track projects, do bookeeping, go to industry meetings, meet more prospects, learn about computers as a lot of my clients needed to be taught that the range of their computers was far greater than what came out of the box.

    I got bigger jobs for bigger clients, so I needed to get into networking, so that the client could use what I built.

    I needed to become a public speaker, which wasn’t as hard for me as some folks, to communicate to groups as I did a number of group/association sites, and listing the members, got more work, and so on.

    In order to effectively translate my clients business to the web I needed to learn what they did for a living, how they did it, and discover the best way to present them on the web.

    My time broke down into 50% hustling new work, 30% dealing with non computer current projects, meetings, changes, deadlines, etc. 10% bookeeping, billing and records, and finally 10% actually at the keyboard building sites.

    5 years ago 90% of my income was websites.
    Today, 10% is webwork, 20% is hardware and networking design/build and 70% is service. in repair and maintenence.

    I am the guy where the buck stops. So I take orders from a lot of folks. I am on call 24/7 because I wasn’t smart enough to only accept clients who work 8-5 🙂

    I still work 70-80 hours a week. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    One other thing I might note for the artisans or anybody who is going into business is what I call the Other Guy Next Guy.

    from my remodeling for geeks blog

    Jeanne at House in Progress noted:

    no one will prep a worksite as carefully as the person who has to clean the house.

    This is so true on so many levels.
    Remodeling projects from simple painting to building additions all have things that need to be done, in order for you to grin like an idiot when you are done, releasing endorphins and giving you that warm buzz, and not have folks laugh at you.

    In remodeling, which I have mentioned is biblical in terms of one project ‘begating’ another, you will become one of two types of remodeler.
    Other Guy or Next Guy. This is a gender neutral designation.

    Other Guy is the person who does the minimum necessary, and will cut corners, thinking that the Other Guy will work around or fix the problem. There are a hell of a lot of Other Guys working on houses all over. Not just carpenters, drywallers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC, and all the other ‘trades’ that are involved in houses, but there are quite a few Architects here also.

    Next Guy is the person who not only knows their job but will also look ahead to make sure that the Next Guy can do their job.

    You really want to be a Next Guy.

  2. Another difference between corporate employees and self employed is that most employees know their boss and can anticipate those orders (or at least make the conscious decision to tolerate those decisions) whereas the self employed are subject to the ‘Invisible Hand’ of free markets and may not be able to foresee those orders (often being blindsided). To some degree it is a matter of personality as to how it affects you as well as a balancing act between benefits and costs.

  3. We can never be truly “on our own” in a so-called “civilized society.” We must answer to the rule of law, to government, to regulations that say how fast we can drive, what kind of gas we can put in our vehicles, what foods we can purchase and eat. A FICO score determines whether or not we can buy a house, an SAT score determines whether or not our kids can go to college. We can do certain things to affect those scores but, in the end, we answer to those who make the rules.

    Self-employment means a change in the decision-making process and may give one a greater role in some decisions but, in the end, we remain at the mercy of the decision makers — the company that may or may not accept our proposal, the customer who may or may not buy our work of art or the publishers who may or may not accept our work. Even in retirement, our ability to survive is often determined by boards of directors of companies where he hold investments and those decisions determine whether or not our investments are sufficient to support us in the future.

    The Mafia has a saying for this: New boss, same as the old boss. Self-employment can be a different game but it is still played by many of the same rules.

  4. Jane Chin says:

    Yes! We all take orders “from someone” even when we’re self employed or solo entrepreneurs. The difference that I’ve found as an entrepreneur is that I get to exercise my right to “refuse service to anyone.” I only rarely exercise this right, but I’m glad I have it 🙂

  5. Sean Pecor says:

    From 1997 to 2001 I was a self-employed web developer. In 2001, when I decided I didn’t like the limitations set before me by client budgets or client myopia, I started on some “lab projects”. Since 2001, I’ve developed and enhanced dozens of automated business process modules for my “b2b” and “b2c” web sites. Together these software modules handle 99% of the workload, taking and processing orders and support requests given by customers. The remaining 1% is handled by my contract-based customer support professional.

    Of course, this just left me with more time to take orders from my wife. Which would be a nice segue into the Law of Unintended Consequences, no? 😉


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