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Self Employment - Is This Even Work?

Updated on May 4, 2011

It's amazing just how many ignorant people actually think that self employment is not really a job.

When they find out that you work for yourself and run your own business, these folks then turn around and ask that same stupid question - "What else do you do"?

You see -- somehow, because you don't work for someone like McDonalds or some other low paying employer, these folks, who have never tried to be self employed, figure that no one can make money at this game. They don't realize that the company hiring them actually started out with one person who had a vision -- a self employed person, and that vision was now growing so big that they had to hire you -- yes, You buddy, to lend a hand. If it wasn't for self employed people, you wouldn't have a job. Smarten up and put a brain in that head!

Just to bring you up to par on what this Hub is about:

We sold our dog resort business last year for quite a lot of money. The new owners had terrific jobs -- one being a famous Canadian scientist with Atomic Energy and his wife who was a business anylist working for a big insurance company. I will keep their names out of this hub to protect their identities. Let's pretend the man is James and his wife is Gail.

Now, James mother who was in her eighties asked her son if Gail had any previous hands on business experience. She was concerned that his wife would perhaps run the business into the ground after it had built up to well over 500 clients in a short span of time. James and Gail were not kids. They were in their fifties and sixties but Gail was so stressed out with her job that she felt she needed a change and when she came across our dog business being up for sale, she wanted it and money was no object for these people. The business and house sold in seven days.

Now, on to the story -- a true story in 2010.

We were having a small lunch together and going over the final details of selling the business when James asked me what I did for a living. You see, this was Judy's business that I had created for her years ago and because I didn't have to leave the house to go to a day job, Mr. Scientist (James) was wondering what part I played. I had been operating business ventures for over 30 years from my house and some people just can't see that self employed people actually do anything. So I sat down and wrote him a letter to tell him what I did and it went something like this:


"So what do you do?"

I laugh when people ask me that question and I just tell them "whatever I feel like doing". I work for no one and no one tells me what to do. In the government, there was always a boss over my head, as in your wife's case, someone to answer to. I was always outspoken, loud and very mouthy. I often argued with my Dutch boss, an arrogant kind of fellow who once exclaimed that if there was ever a war, I would be the first to run. I responded immediately to him that " If I ran, I would be running right behind you!" He was obviously not amused and that satisfied me to no end.

I knew it was time to leave and I did, without hesitation. To quit something after many years and listen to people ask -- "well, what will you do now and what about your pension?" Give me a break! I was 30 years old and single. Thirty more years of this garbage and I'd go Nuts. I was totally bored and there was absoultely "no Challenge for me" -- something that I needed -- something that every "entrepreneur" requires, -- a Goal, a Challenge, something a person can be Proud of that sets him aside from the other followers. "So don't be afraid for your wife", I said. She is not a follower but rather someone that requires that same challenge and drive. She has set a goal for herself and she will be successful. Successful entrepreneurs are extremely determined individuals who know exactly what they must do to survive and they know when to make changes when the challenge and circumstances present themselves.

I saw the doubt last night in not only your face but also in your daugters face and when you asked me -- "what do you do?", I just said -- "nothing, nothing at all". I don't have to explain myself to anyone because after 32 years of self employment, I feel I have done exacly what I was meant to do and have learned so much over the years. I have no degrees or awards to show anyone but I have something inside of me that feels good, that feels right -- "satisfaction" -- that I have established each and every goal I have set out for myself and nothing can compare to that feeling of contentment.

I quit the Government in 1978 after eight years with Revenue Canada and Statistics Canada. I began CERCAN -- "Certified Canadian" Crafts which was a small manufacturing business that produced Canadian souvenir items from Porcelain (which I taught as well). I was able to sell to Upper Canada Village, Fort Henry, 65 Cara shops across the country including the CN Tower, every train and airport gift shop across the country and hundreds of gift shops from East Coast to West Coast. The following year, I opened a craft shop at the Stittsville Flea Market and attracted over a hundred crafts people to bring me their items to sell for them. With over 20,000 people every Sunday flowing though my shop, it was not hard to sell the business a year later for $10,000, a business that operated only 52 days a Year.

With that money, I invested it all in a rather large and elaborate sound and light system in 1980. After a year in operation, the business expanded to two systems and was named "Starland" with stage costumes and robots to keep the people and myself entertained. Two years later (1982), the business was at 92 dances a year and growing. I puchased BJ the DJ in 1982 and exploded that business from 300 dances a year to over 700, along the way employing scores upon scores of Disc Jockeys over an 18 year period. Many stayed with me for the entire 18 years of owning BJ the DJ and earned themselves substantial supplemental income. Passing through the ranks over the years were 16 year old students to 20 - 40 year old radio personalities and even older full time working people all looking for that extra income -- that mighty dollar.

When the Disc Jockey Business began its decline in the mid nineties, I began looking for other means of making a living and my thoughts turned towards Snow Plowing -- nothing elaborate like a scientist, but it brought home the bacon. You, see, in order to succeed, one must provide a service to others, ( forget Retail -- too risky ). This has to be a service that extends to not just a few people but to hundreds of people, a service that many rely upon and one that is better than what anyone else can offer. After obtaining 125 clients for SnowPlowing and with only me doing it, years went by and I could feel the need to change again as the body was wearing down with so much pysical work. The snow clearing led to Lawn Maintenance with 30 homes to look after during the summer months and 125 during the winter. This was an income but one I grew tired of and physically drained.

I sold my house in the city and moved to the country. I did some research on the Fortune 500 Internet site and saw that "Pet Sitting" ranked #72 out of the 500 Top Businesses to get into. After making $60,000 in just two months from an Internet venture, I had a Family room added on to the house and used $3,000 to begin advertising for a pet sitting business. That business became a business for Judy. Her cleaning business for twenty years was taking a toll on her health, her back and her knees. I thought that this could be an out for her from that physically demanding labour. But her tendency to clean and keep things clean blended over to the dog business and with 30 dogs to look after in the house, it became equally as demanding as her original cleaning business. Her knees and our long staircase to the second level became unbearable for her and I knew again that it was time to sell -- not only the business but the house as well. It's not that I want to leave this home that we have worked hard on over the years, but rather a necessity.

Fate seemed to have stepped in and Judy found the bungalow that she was dreaming of and the land and solitude that was her "Goal in life." I questioned the move as you now question your move. But as the Mayor once told me -- "after 44 years of marriage -- just go with the Flow", and so that is what I am doing. It seems that "Fate" is playing itself out and that a move is definately forthcoming. The licensing of our dog business became a goal that I did not ask for but it was another challenge presenting itself and one that I could not back down from. I established communication with a support team of over 500 clients through the Internet and easily obtained a goal that I once thought was impossible to achieve. The Mayor himself said" that after nine years on Council, never have I seen such support for a business in this community" and the vote was unanimous. This was a business service that the township wanted as it drew hundreds of people into this fast growing community, people that brought a cash flow to the town with the purchase of gas for vehicles, cash to the local stores, small businesses and cash to the restaurants located here. With the planting of the dog resort sign that had the word "Licensed" on it, was to me like putting the Canadian flag on the moon and my goal once again had been achieved.

Your mother inquired as to what assets Judy and I have. I am telling you now that hundreds upon hundreds of repeat clients are our assets, much better than any other tangible assets that she may be thinking of. These are assets that keep the business running and growing. These are assets that grow on a daily basis.

I now look forward to probably my last goal in this short life of ours and that being one in a new county with a different mindset, one that would never allow a Dog Resort to establish itself. This is a negative growing community with folks that have no interest in a fast paced life or a growth of any kind. This is a stagnant area of the country where the townsfolk are stuck in their ways and strangers become a huge concern when a new business venture wanders in with the possibility of perhaps rocking the boat and waking everybody up. Well -- do I have news for you People! A new Business venture is coming to your little town and one that will definately rock the boat and bring -- guess what -- hopefully a little prosperity to the area. It's a quiet operation, one that does not require licensing, but one that I am very confident will succeed in an environment such as this.

Get ready for "The Pussycat Hotel" - Canada's Largest and most Luxurious Cat Hotel.


So when people ask me --- "What do you Do"?, I just answer --- "Nothing -- absolutely nothing at all!


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    • BillyWagnerJr profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice article! I'm self employed as well, so I know exactly where you're coming from. To me being self employed is more difficult than traditional work because it takes twice as much disciple and determination. Almost anyone can get hired by McDonalds these days, but very few people have what it takes to be successfully self employed.


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