Monday, January 10, 2011

My Job

Or..."Why You Won't Hear From Me Until February..."

I am a self employed bookkeeper for lots of small businesses in the Bay Area. It really is a great job as I make decent money and am able to make my own schedule and am my own boss. But for obvious reason, January is my busiest month of the year (all year end stuff needs to be done in addition to getting out W2's, 1099's and all the payroll and sales tax that are due...) so I rarely see the light of day. Or night for that matter. My DVR suffers horribly in January. And as a result, so does my psyche. :)

But things might be changing. And change is really hard. But I have one client that I have worked for for over 8 years at this point. I really like the client. He is a hard working guy who has been nothing but great in all the time we have worked together. He used to work for a big tech firm in Silicon Valley but left to start his own company. And over the last 8 years he has seen varying degrees of success. I have been there through it all with him. From working in a big office to shutting it all down and then doing his books sitting as his kitchen table chatting with his wife. We have been through a lot together. And I would consider him a friend. He knows all about me and my life and my kids (and he still talks to me!). If I were ever to leave my little cushion of a job to get a "real job" he would be one of the only people that would give me pause to actually make that happen. There are very few of my clients that could persuade me to leave my "self employment" and go work for someone else again. He might be that person.

About 6 months ago he developed a product which has really taken off. In the span of the last 6 months he has done more business and made more money than he has in the past 5 years combined. He now has several hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings and is back in an office and, as of today, has 5 employees including me (although I am not an employee). And today we had "the talk" about whether or not I would be interested in coming to work for him full time if/when the time comes. And even though there isn't enough room in my brain to even complete my regular tasks, I can't stop thinking about this.

There are so many pros and cons to this. The "Pros" are huge. Guaranteed salary. BENEFITS!!! (I don't think I can stress what a huge PRO that one is...). Paid time off. A regular schedule. A boss that I admire and enjoy in a work atmosphere that is pretty freaking cool. A boss who knows that I have small children and will allow me to work from home at least half the time. The ability to know where I will be going everyday and what I will be doing. Working at a job that is new and challenging. And did I mention BENEFITS? Oh good lord how I could just dream at that concept...

But the cons. They are more tricky. The one and only "Con" is that in order to do this I would have to give up all of my other clients. This is beyond scary to me for so many reasons. First of all I have been working for some of these other clients for over 10 years. These people know me, they trust me, and they have sustained me over the years. I would hate to just up and dump them. I know they could find someone else, but I would feel badly to make them do that. But more importantly, they are my safety net. As I mentioned above, this company has had several rises and falls over the years (although never have we "risen" to this extent before) and there is always the chance that things will fall again and everything will go away. And I will have nothing. I will have bailed on all the people who have supported and trusted in me over the past 13 years and I will have to start at square one. Right now, even with the economy as bad as it has been, I am relatively safe. I say that because even if one of my clients has to shut their doors and I lose my job, I have 14 others to pick up the pieces. I am not reliant on any one company for my livelihood.

I could get rid of most of my small clients and keep a handful of the other ones and try and take care of them in my spare time, but really, is that fair to anyone? Is that fair to my new employer that expects me to put all of my energy into that particular job? Is that fair to ME? To work a full time job and then still have commitments at the end of each day? Part of what is so positive about this new opportunity is the concept of driving out of work at the end of the day and actually being done. Right now I work out of my home a lot so I am never done. Even right now, as I type this, my daughter just went down to sleep and my son is watching his half hour show on TV to wind down and once he is in bed? I will be back at this computer working. And I will work until my eyelids get very heavy and I can no longer make out the numbers on the screen and then, at that point, I will drag myself to bed and fall down on the bed to pass out so I can wake up and start all over. So I don't want to over extend myself. I don't want to promise more than I can give. That defeats the entire purpose.

So I'm at a loss. Fortunately it isn't "decision time" right now because I haven't been offered a full time position yet. It isn't in my lap to have to decide right at this moment. But we did have "the talk." And I told him I was certainly interested. I know for sure that financially, he will make it worth my while. I'm not worried about that. In fact, if this thing goes, this could be one of those things where getting in the ground floor in a company like this could seriously set me and my kids for life. (I am trying to be a little cryptic in talking about this company obviously, but keep in mind I live in the middle of Silicon Valley and this is a tech company that has a serious product that might be required to be in all computers very shortly...). But as those of us who live in this area companies can also come crashing down just as quickly as they shot up. So it is a big risk. One that if it pays off will be SO worth it, but still a very large risk either way.

I am not sure why I am talking to you, my internet friends, about this. I guess because I don't want to talk about it out loud or with any of my real friends who might be in some way affiliated with any of my other clients. But it is very much on my mind. If you don't take risks in life then there is little chance for great things to come. But then again, it is called a "risk" for a reason...


Regardless of what happens with this, if my posts are light this month just know that I am up to my eyeballs in numbers and equations and spreadsheets. And I am thinking of all of you and I will come back soon with some quality posts. I really need to do a post about the HELL that is trying to get my son registered for Kindergarten. When did that become along the same lines as applying for college? Seriously! It's kindergarten people... But like I said, another post!

Happy January everyone. Hope yours is more restful than mine...


Laraf123 said...

I hear you! I need to make a decision about my job (long, long story) and it's not the same as when I didn't have kids. If I made the wrong choice, in a year or two I could just try something else. Now, as head of household my decision affects my children in so many ways. Oh, and I'm trying to pick a school district for my son (this will entail selling my home and buying elsewhere) I swear that it was easier to decide to become a single mom than to pick a school for my kids.
Hang in there--here's hoping things fall into place.

Amy said...

Awesome problem to have!! Similarly, I'm an HR consultant for 5 companies and have had to say no to FT offers already... The flexibility I have being home with the kids and supporting multiple clients PT just makes more sense for me. My clients are also technology companies and I definitely have my eye on one of them because the opp would be too great not to throw caution to the wind for. So I say go for it!! But to be cautious, I'd hold on to my most lucrative clients for 6 ish months to feel totally safe before I transitioned completely. Good luck with all of this!!