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Self Employment

Updated on September 28, 2012

Look, Dad; No Job!

Contrary to TV nirvana, family affairs can be vexed.

And when children choose different paths to their parents', the relative thickness of blood doesn't stint its flow.

This has been a big issue for my small business.

I'm keen to know if you think I'm a spoilt brat or part of a statistically relevant pack.

Paul Hassing. Founder of The Feisty Empire.
Paul Hassing. Founder of The Feisty Empire.

Working for yourself may not go down well with your family.

My decision to ditch a career that was killing me body and soul was greeted with stony family silence.

There followed a salvo of pointed questions that left me doubtless as to the unpopularity of my choice.

Pressing on regardless was a major breach of domestic protocol.

As I built my business over several years, the advice to go back to 'the workforce' was regular dinner fare.

Finally, when I proudly announced that I'd doubled my former salary, the advice shifted from fiscal to spiritual. In summary:

Phase 1

How's business?

A bit slow.

Hmm. Maybe you should give it away and get a real job.

Phase 2

How's business?


Hmm. Hope you're not burning yourself out.

Can't take a trick!

What I perceived as lack of support was described as devil's advocacy and parental concern.

Yet it consistently left me frustrated, deflated and angry.

These feelings compounded when I learned (third hand) that my business success had been lauded (at length) to family and friends (in my absence).

I went crying to my mates, who had markedly different takes on the matter.

One reported that his dad had pooh-poohed everything he'd ever done. When he finally earned a company car, he was chided that it was an SL, not an SLX.

Another said that when a man has taught his son to hunt buffalo, it doesn't do anyone any good (except the buffalo) for the son to be always looking back for approval.

I later watched an interview with a famous Australian chef.

When his mother saw him showcased on Japanese TV, she thought he'd been arrested.

She nearly had a heart attack, having no idea what he did, or how gifted he was.

Last week, after spending over a decade in Phases 1 and 2, I tried a bold, new tack:

Phase 3

How's business?

Perfect! I have just the right amount of work coming in at exactly the right rate.

Hmm. Very good.

Ta da!

End of story. Praise at last! All I had to do was lie.

I've since quizzed my Twitter followers on this topic.

Results have been mixed, so I'd very much like your view.

Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

What do YOU think?

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    • Invoiceberry Team profile image

      Invoiceberry 4 years ago from London

      Self-employment is great, it gives loads of flexibility. Self-employed people can manage their time the way they want and not the way their boss wants :)

    • PaulHassing LM profile image

      Paul Hassing 6 years ago

      @hunksparrow: What an exciting journey you're considering! May I suggest that you check out the Small Business Owner blog? It's written for people just like you. Many thanks for your visit. :)

    • hunksparrow profile image

      hunksparrow 6 years ago

      Over the last year I've debated about ditching the full-time job to work for myself. Many times I've envisioned the Phase 1 and 2 questions and prepared some answers. Glad to know I'm not alone. Thanks for another great lens, Paul.

    • PaulHassing LM profile image

      Paul Hassing 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you for sharing your story. Insurance is quite the acid test for 'normality' isn't it?! I've tried four times to get income protection insurance and no one will touch me. But that's OK. I've been investing the money I'd otherwise have wasted on premiums and it's adding up to a tidy sum! Glad to see we're on the same page. Best regards, P. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      When I started my first of many business the only thing my father kept asking me was, "how are you going to get insurance?" Some people will never understand what we are trying to do, and sometimes, you just have to let their comments slide off.

    • PaulHassing LM profile image

      Paul Hassing 7 years ago

      @darciefrench lm: That's a real bugger, Darcie. But when it comes to the crunch, you can't please everyone. You have to please yourself, or you're no good to anyone. As you've found to your cost. I do hope your new direction brings you contentment and prosperity. Thank you for telling your story.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 7 years ago

      I disappointed the family terribly when I had a mental health break down and ditched a social work career for the sanity of self-employment. None of my self-employed projects are given any merit and to this day I'm still the black sheep. So, I eventually ditched the family (at least the white ones anyway).