I rarely talk about why I quit the rat race because it was such a horrible time that I just didn’t want to be associated with. While I had always wanted to become an entrepreneur and have always run a business of some kind, I didn’t go full time because I had such amazing work opportunities. At 26 I found myself a marketing manager of the digital side of a marketing agency, and I couldn’t quite believe how much responsibility I was given at a young age. I wanted so badly to make it work, but in the end, my experience pushed me out of employment forever – and I’d never go back!
When you work for somebody else, you simply aren’t earning as much money as they’re making from you. To most people, this would seem fair, but to me, it wasn’t. Each new client my boss brought on meant more work for me and more money for him. Clients were paying 800+ for MY services and my boss was taking in the money. It was always niggling at me that I could cut out the middle man, do my own sales (I was helping him with sales anyway) and keep all the money for myself. I felt like if I was given a pay rise each time I got a new client, I would be more passionate and dedicated to the projects I was working on. And I am.
I have also been an overachiever of sorts in all of my roles, meaning that in each job I’ve had I’ve quickly gotten promoted and given a lot more responsibility. However this has never resulted in me getting paid more. Which is incredibly demotivating.
The first workplace night out I went on was riddled with anecdotes and discussions about prostitutes. Strike one. It slowly dawned on me that my boss was having an affair with his 19 year old secretary and he was also heavily addicted to drugs and alcohol. I now know for a fact that he was as he did a ‘tell all’ in The Sun about it. He works in addiction counselling now, good for him, but it’s not nice to work for someone who is in the depth of addiction. The business has closed down now, because the tax bill was never paid, however, I was still paying my income tax to the company. So I have to deal with the fact that the tax I was paying was not going to good causes in society, but was lining my bosses pocket. I don’t feel bad for all the workplace drinks and meals that were showered on me now.
3. Clashes with my working style and management
I work best left to my own devices and I didn’t feel that someone who had no experience in digital should be closely managing me. Now I’m self employed my work is very self directed, but this frustrated my boss at the time. We clashed a lot because I failed to communicate with him what I was doing. My attitude was ‘it’s working so leave me alone’. At a meeting where he decided to delve deeply into what I was doing, he wanted more from me, and I was already working at full pelt and giving everything I had. I also felt unappreciated for the things I was already doing. In my bosses management style (a very old fashioned one) he wanted to bleed the stone dry, saying I need to be doing more when I was already working flat out. He must have been playing some kind of game with me, because while he accepted my notice ‘on face value’ as he put it, I do not think he expected me to leave. This caused a bunch of problems when:
4. I became very ill
Close to the end of my notice, with about a week to go, I had an extreme personal issue which put me in hospital. Even though the company had had plenty of notice, they had not actually prepared for me to leave. Meaning they had a bunch of clients to service and nobody to do it. They did not actually start the interviewing process until after I had left. They were constantly ringing me in hospital asking me questions and jumped on me being ill as a way to lie to clients that I was not leaving, I was just in fact, very ill. I was getting a lot of get well soon’s and to do lists for my return from clients and I felt very bad lying to them about this matter. I had never taken more than one day off sick my entire working career, so they didn’t actually realise how much I do, and how much it goes to shit if I’m not there. (My lack of communication again.) So much drama for something that should have been very simple, they had plenty of time to hire someone new before I became ill. While I had been looking for jobs and found some amazing opportunities, I decided that I needed the time to recover from what had happened.
I left this company with completely burned bridges. I should have really looked at the red flags when I first started working there (high staff turn over, drinking culture) but I didn’t. I wanted it to work so I lie to myself. Having this mess in my past really made me want to start my own company. I treat the people I work with with respect and have never had any major issues from my employees, freelancers or clients. The only drama I’ve had is from another agent I was working with who went bankrupt but didn’t tell their clients they were no longer in operation, just kept sending them invoices.
Having said that, I have worked with some excellent agencies this year and I know that I could work with them happily, but now I’m settled into self-employed life I enjoy my freedom (and money) too much to go back to the rat race. It’s really difficult to find out which companies would be smooth to work for, but I would recommend anybody seeking employment to check out Glassdoor.com, speak to ex employees and find out a lot about the company before you work there. Businesses make out like working for them is some kind of privilege, but really you will be the one doing the work and bringing in the money for them, so make sure that the place you’re going to be spending the majority of your life at has the right culture.
I learned that while I can just go away and work on things happily, I really need to have more communication with the people I’m working for. So now I make sure to arrange regular meetings with clients and update them about new things I am doing. Even if it seems really small/insignificant and I feel like they won’t really care about it, I know they need to know how I’ve arrived at solving a problem, rather than it seeming like pure magic.
I do recognise that some people aren’t cut out for self employment and some people, like me, just aren’t cut out for employment!!