For the past three years I had what many employees are striving for: the chance to be my own boss.
After spending more than 10 years as a newspaper reporter and public relations executive, I traded in my office jobs and became a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad. Those were three of the happiest years of my life.
I was able to find regular and consistent writing opportunities (mostly here with Business News Daily), I got to work from home, I got to set my own schedule and I had the time to write and publish my first book. It was a refreshing change to be able to wake up each day without the stresses that come with working for someone else.
The best part of it all was the chance I got to spend every day with my daughter. I wouldn't trade the time I spent with her for anything, whether it was playing with her, taking her to the park or reading her favorite stories to her. It is something that most of my friends and former co-workers never had the chance to do. While it was tough to balance both my writing and dad responsibilities, I was legitimately happy for what seemed like the first time in my professional career.
It's something I never thought I would give up. But, five weeks ago, that's exactly what I did. I gave up the freedom that comes with working for myself to work full-time as a senior writer here at Business News Daily.
Why would I give all that up? Why would I risk losing that happiness I felt each day? It was a difficult question to answer at first. On the surface, my thought process revolved around the benefits that come with a full-time job. There would be a regular paycheck every two weeks, an employee benefits package and the stability that comes with knowing my job was secure.
Being a freelancer was scary at times. There's a trade-off for the freedom you have. Not knowing if the work was going be there each week or how much my paycheck was going to be each month are worries that can take their toll. Some of my initial reasons for wanting to go back to work full time had to do with knowing that those things wouldn't have such uncertainty around them.
Deep down though, it was about much more than that. What was really driving me to take on the added responsibilities of working for someone else was the chance to be a part of something bigger. To be a full member of a successful team of editors and writers at a company that was growing and building itself into something truly special — that was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up.
I no longer wanted to feel like I was on my own. I wanted to be part of a team that was accomplishing great things and this was my opportunity. Since starting last month, I have been in meetings with my editor to brainstorm story ideas and in meetings with my Business News Daily team to discuss our direction. There have also been conference calls with our entire editorial department, as well as a companywide meeting to announce our new name and brand — Purch.
I left each one of those meetings and calls with a greater sense of purpose and more of a feeling that I am a part of something that's bigger than just me. The feeling is a huge motivator and an extremely powerful driving force for me to want to succeed.
Rather than thinking my work was only benefiting me — the feeling I sometimes got when I was a freelancer — I now believe my work is having a much greater impact. It's invigorating to know that my stories are playing a role, however small that role may be, in the success of a thriving company.
While every situation is different and I don't think there is a right or wrong answer when deciding whether to stay self employed or go to work for someone else, my case is a reminder that there is much more to think about than just salary and benefits.
Yes, money is critical. Benefits are crucial. But don't forget to factor in how you will feel each night about the work you have accomplished and who it is benefiting.
Don't be afraid of giving up the freedom you have of answering to no one. In the end, feeling like you are a part of something special can be just as rewarding — if not more so.
Originally published on Business News Daily