Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Self Employed in not perfect...

It is just the way things turned out.  In 1978 I was a school teacher working on my second year of teaching History classes in a Junior High School.  My dad was a teacher.  It was in my background and in my education.  I liked teaching, liked the kids and their energy.  We had an economic slump then also and with 35 other teachers I was laid off.  They were hiring in Los Angeles and in Texas; I could have moved and continued doing what I was trained to do but I had just bough a "fixer house" and planted a garden.  I had a wife and two cats!
   That summer I was putting a new roof on my house (the directions are on the package!) when the neighbors saw me and wanted a new roof also.  "Jerry, can you...?" and that was my introduction to self employment!
   I became legal, registering with all the various governmental bodies that want a piece of the action and learned to pay my taxes and get the necessary building permits, all the paper work stuff.  Years and lots of experience later I had 15 employees, ran three jobs at a time and one year did over a million dollars worth of work.  That doesn't mean I got any.
   Literally tons of money goes through your hands when you are self employed.  It is tempting to buy new trucks, bigger this and that and more of it.  I realized the money wasn't mine, that I was the "go between guy"
between my customers and the government and material supply houses and the wages of my workers.  I had to finish the job and if there was anything left over, well, that is what I got.  No pay checks on Friday for me.
Sometimes there was no money left over at all and sometimes there was a lot.  It is a bit of a gamble but you get good at it or you get out.  The highest rates of business failure in America are in the Construction Industry and the Restaurant Business.  You have to get paid last or you won't make it.
    I stayed in this business because I liked the challenges of it.  I liked the successes, the accomplishments, the customers and just the idea of being able to say, "yes, I did that!"  My days were always varied and different, from foundations to roofing and everything in between and I liked that.
    Nevertheless, time changes everything.  I grew older, the paper work and business of being in business, ever more taxing agencies appeared from nowhere.  By the time I turned fifty years old I grew to hate it.
That is when I went from "Jerry Carlin Construction", my construction company to "Stone Post Company", the art side of me.  I went from seven full time employees to one part time employee and from a mountain of paper work to almost none.  I pick and choose my jobs now and accept the challenges that I wish to accept.
I would rather have discovered this earlier in life but perhaps I wasn't ready for it.
This is what I do, this is ME.


Barbra Joan said...

Hi Jerry, I'm glad you are what you are today. Period. BJ

SooZeQue said...

Yes, life get in the way of us doing what we want to do sometimes. 30 years in corp america of gazing out the window wishing I was home doing what I really wanted to do, but I had bills to pay kids to feed. It took cancer to finally get me home doing what I LOVE. Life is a fickle beast and I wonder if we have to be careful about what we wish for!

AutumnLeaves said...

Always wanted to have my own business (and still have the vision in my head), but it will never happen. Need start up money and I've had enough being in debt to last me a lifetime! But so good to know that others can still do it and do it successfully. Jer, can you mail some of that common sense you have over to my house???

Dan Kent said...

What an interesting post! I think it takes great courage to make a life change like you did, and I'm glad that it worked. I love reading stories like this.

Chez said...

Jerry I believe there is truth in the saying 'Love what you do, and do what you love.'
You produce exceptional pieces. Congratulations on your achievements.