I Lost My Lunch

I've been running my own home business for the last six months. It's keeping me afloat, if only just; I know that these things take time to get rolling, and I've accepted that, but there is an entire host of factors which I couldn't have anticipated in advance. These have been weighing on me in ways that affect my life outside of work. Some of the impact that this has had has taken the form of effects that, had I considered them ahead of time, might have dissuaded me from trying to start my business at all. 

I'm an anxious person. I'm fairly asocial, and I have a lot of anxiety involved in meeting and dealing with people. Professional relationships aren't so difficult; there's a cushion of polite distance there. When I held a normal job, I was always able to go home at the end of the day. 

Now, I work out of my home, and my clients have direct access to me while I'm sitting at my home computer. For reasons relating to keeping my business viable, I am accessible in some fashion 24/7. If a phone call or a message fails to wake me up, the notification is waiting for me when I do wake up. I've had people asking me how work was coming along at 3 in the morning, days before it was due. I've had clients send me requests to finish an assignment in a hurry at midnight. There is no activity of mine -- watching TV, playing a game, or using the bathroom -- which a client cannot interrupt. 

I'm reaching a point where I am no longer comfortable or content within my own apartment. This is made worse by other stress factors, like when multiple clients are days late with their payments, and my bank account is empty. This happened yesterday, hence the reference in my title. For the first time since I started working, my debit card was denied as I went to buy lunch at a local market. Yesterday's food consisted of a $0.99 coffee and a $0.99 bag of potato chips. This is the type of experience I had on a regular basis while I was unemployed, before I started working for myself. 

There are people who make five to six times what I do, per task completed, and I'm just as good at it as they are... but I bend over backwards offering low rates and perks, hoping to secure more clients and spread my brand. That's how the business works. Now, I'm working all the time, and bills are going unpaid, because what comes in isn't enough to pay them all. Having work, and still having to go to friends and family and beg to borrow money to help make ends meet... I feel like everybody was proud of me for a while, and that I've once again let them all down. 

Things are slowly improving. Surely, but slowly... I have high hopes for the future. I'm still running my own business, which is more than what many people are able to do. That being said, I sincerely look forward to the day when I'm comfortable in my own home again. I hope that, someday, I'm able to turn off my computer at night -- or log out of Skype over the weekends -- and not feel as though something is awfully, horribly wrong until I turn it back on again. 

User Comments
Anon-1

Good luck with your business in the future! These things take a while to get off the ground. If you're already making ends meet at 6 months you're doing well!

Anon-2

I'm still trying to get my business off the ground myself. Congratulations on doing as well as you are! I know what it's like to feel like clients are "intruding;" if you establish business hours though, most will understand. Best of luck, I hope that things take off for you soon!

Anon-3

Set some business hours. I'm not sure what all you do, but look into online platforms that will help keep you organized. Most of them offer a few weeks' worth of free trial periods, and they're really helpful!

Anon-4

Don't undersell yourself. It'll take longer to get going, but stick to your guns; do a little research, and then demand what you're worth. You'll have a much easier time of things, and in the long run it'll be much better for your reputation.