Your Personal Life Will Change
It may seem like it goes without saying, but you may not realize what, and to what extent, things will change in your life by becoming a contractor.
Freedom to make your own hours, be your own boss, set your own pay rate, all of these things are true to some extent, and at the same time very wrong. You have control and freedom, but at the same time you are a slave to your customer(s), at least if you want to be successful.
Note: Some of the sections below may relate to certain types of contracting or situations, when that is the case they will have the situation explained in the title.
It may be obvious to some of you that when you are your own salesman you have to put your best foot forward every second of every minute that you are interacting with your customers, and for you out there that know this, you are either a salesperson for a living or have been a contractor for years already.
As a contractor, you can’t have a bad day. Sure, some days if you aren’t feeling up to the task you can call in like any other job, but some days you just have to be present when you don’t want to be. You may be saying to yourself, “I have to go into work on days I don’t want to already!”, and that’s true, but while your co-workers at your company, that you are a salaried employee of, may be more tolerant of your poor moods, a Customer will not be as forgiving.
Keep in mind that a W2 employee costs money to fire or lay off, but a contract for and individual contractor can usually be cancelled easily with few, if any, repercussions.
You may be wondering how this is going to affect your personal life. It won’t at first. You’ll be elated that you are “your own boss” and high on life for a few months. Then, over time all those bad days that you can’t be a snarky know-it-all to your boss or co-workers will add up, and pretty soon you’ll be taking it out on your friends and family.
So, make sure to set aside time for yourself to blow off steam. Make sure you stick to your workout, or paintball on the weekends, or hiking that pretty mountain trail. You will need time for yourself to blow off the steam that you can’t with your co-workers anymore.
Depending on the type of contracting, and the situation you are in, your Hygiene will likely improve or decline, but it will almost certainly do one of the two. Be prepared.
Say for example that you are a remote contractor, lot more of these now than years before. This could be a steady gig or even if you are drumming up your own short term business. Being remote and working from home tends to make you forget that you haven’t showered in a week, especially when you are working 12-16 hour days trying to keep your customers happy and the money flowing in.
On the other hand, say you are a contractor who works in the customer’s office. Well I’ll tell you what, you are going to want to look your absolute sharpest every single day because, why? That’s right, you are your own sales team. Get used to it.
No matter what situation you are put into as a contractor, you should be prepared for changes in your daily hygiene. As a contractor, you will likely never be in that sweet spot of comfort and professionalism that is encapsulated by a typical office, so expect changes.
For those that aren’t going to be forced by their customers to shower and look sharp, this can be hard to deal with.
The best way to cope with poor hygiene situations is to develop a daily working schedule that includes your hygiene needs, and stick to it, come hell or high water.
Let’s face it, computer people are not typically the healthiest or fit people. We all know it, but for a remote contractor it could be even worse.
As burdensome as it feels, few people realize how getting out of the house and going to the office each day has a positive impact on us.
In addition to a little exercise, face to face interaction with other human beings is good for us. Sitting in your home office from sun up to midnight cranking away on your projects can be great for your pocket book, but terrible for your waistline and your mental health.
If you happen to be working in your customer’s office you don’t have to worry as much about this, but if you are a contractor long enough you will inevitably be faced with a work from home situation.
Some of the best ways to combat the negative effects from work from home situations is to set a work schedule like you would have in an office, and try to stick to it. Also, working from a coffee shop or a shared workspace is a great way to get a little social interaction. Set yourself a timer to get up and move around every hour or two, and even better, get a standing desk for your home office.
I am no doctor, but we have all heard that exercise improves your mental health, as well as social interaction, so if you aren’t careful this could be a negative spiral into depression and poor physical health if you don’t make yourself get up from your desk from time to time.
If you don’t plan to take care of yourself, this can have negative effects on your friends and family as well, not just you.
You Will Need to Know a lot More About Businesses Than you do now!
In Part 3 we’ll discuss some of the business related issues that are going to come up.