I started Tin Cans & String over three years ago. I’ve learned a lot since, but the most important lesson was to acknowledge that I have no control over my success. What follows is a bit about my business, the idea of a job, and control.
Flashback to the beginning
It was an exciting but scary time. I was leaving a pretty decent job with great people to sit alone in a room at home and try to compensate for a salary I didn’t have to work too hard for. I didn’t leave because I hoped to get rich. I didn’t leave because I have an entrepreneurial mind. I didn’t leave because I love to be in charge. I left because I wanted to “give it a shot” and see what happened. I knew I would regret it if I didn’t at least try. I also wanted to set my own schedule. To have free time for what really matters in life and to me selling your hours isn’t a top priority.
So I quit, pretty much cold turkey. I didn’t have a business plan other then to get paid, hopefully close to what I was use to making, for building websites. I wasn’t booked out months in advance. In fact I think I only had one possible client at the time which I don’t even think made it past the proposal stage.
I made my decision and went for it because we all need a job right? Speaking of…
I’ve always been torn about the notion of a job. At times I consider a job to simply be a way to earn money. It doesn’t matter what you do. You provide a service for x number of hours, someone pays you for it, then you go home and live your life. That’s it.
Other times I feel that for the amount of time spent working you better love what you do. I’ve had long discussions with friends about both of these ideas. I tend to sway from one to the other but mostly siding with the latter.
I could go on about this for a while, but I’ll leave it at that. (I spent most of my 20’s contemplating this idea so if you wanna chat let me know.)
You have no control
The most important thing I’ve learned, not only in business but life as well, is that in the end you have no control.
I attended Bethany Community Church here in Seattle for the second time which prompted these thoughts. The message on Sunday was called Waking Up to the Myth of Control. You can watch it on their site if you’d like. There were several great points but the basic idea is that none of us are in control.
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future. Ecclesiastes 7:14
I’ve learned to enjoy and take comfort in this realization. My work (and life) is pretty unpredictable and I’m okay with that. Some months I make very little money but usually these are the months I’m able to hang out more with family and in nature. Other months I make up for the slow ones, thankfully, so it all works out.
A friend mentioned to me once that he couldn’t take the leap into freelance because of the inconsistency. Always worrying about where the next client was coming from would be too difficult. I definitely see where he’s coming from and this becomes even scarier when you have a family to support. I think if you just accept the fact that you have no control, paired with a bit of faith, that goes a long way.
I’m actually glad I don’t have control. I’d probably just mess it up anyways. I’ve been satisfied with the way my business has turned out and I’ll continue with it until the day comes when I either get tired of it or stop making money and need to try something else.