I have been a small business owner for 10 of the 15 years I have lived in the USA, and it has had its ups and downs, but for the most part bills have been paid on time, my kids have never gone hungry, and there has almost always been enough left to do a few fun things.
Beyond all that though, and the brutal honesty you might not hear about running our own business, is the constant stress about how to not fall behind. Constant worry about those unexpected expenses. In recent years the fear of losing our healthcare if I make too much, balanced with the desire to grow my business because who wants to be barely making it their whole life? Always being vigilant of obstacles, keeping up on advertising, on new products, on monetizing your creations, and hustling for new clients.
The anxiety takes it toll. In the past year I have noticed exhaustion creeping in more frequently, and with it all doubts that my usually robust work ethic (some call workaholism) has kept at bay.
For the first time I am seriously considering closing my business because all the fees and taxes and effort and stress of keeping it afloat don’t feel worth it. I am tired of hustling. Or at the very least, I need time to reassessing art being primary business focus. This is the danger of turning your hobby into your job. When you are feeling burned out on work, and work is also your hobby, what is left?
Back in November I picked a contracting job at JPTelecomm. It was initially meant to be a one off, four day long thing. My spouse has carpel tunnel and we were waiting for his surgery date, he normally does this work but literally couldn’t. He is still unable to do the more physically demanding aspects of the work as he recovers from surgery
So I’m still doing the jobs as they come up, and Caswallon is doing bench work for the company (mainly pager repair if you are curious.)
The things is I really like the work. I am an independent field technician and also run the company’s social media. The field tech part is hard blue collar work, but I find it satisfying.
More than that though it is also nice to show up, clock in, work a full day, clock out, maybe hit the pub afterwards with the crew, and then just, go home. It is not my job to hustle for clients, and stress about the background small business stuff as I do with my own business. There is a bit of accounting on my part because I need to set aside money for taxes as I’m an independent contractor (so still technically self employed) but, oh my goddess, it has been a relief.
I have also started to find my hobbies enjoyable again. I’m taking some classes to further my herbalist training. Picking up a few random divination gigs, but I just let them come as they do. I spent most of my day off the other day making a paper lantern with my kids. Not because I needed to create something to sell, but because I wanted to. It felt good. No one talks about the emotional cost of having to view your creative drive as an artist through the eyes of capitalism.
I’m not sure where this leaves me with my business. Maybe just treat it like a side hustle for awhile? My kids actually create more items for the etsy at the moment than I do. Or maybe close my business and reassess what I want out of it? I don’t know. What I do know is I feel like I’m on the edge of a big change concerning it, and maybe instead of hyper-managing it I should just see where it leads?
What a strange feeling letting go would be.