“When are you going to get a real job, Honey?” my parents asked for the umpteenth time. Not in those words, but when I started my own business in 1991, Dad was skeptical (even though he’s a farmer and owned his own business for 50 plus years). Both Mom and Dad would prefer I get a job working for someone else. Someone who’ll pay a solid wage for a good day’s work; someone who’ll pay health benefits, and reward hard work with a promotion and raise. A work place I can settle into and work my way up. I confess I’d like those things, too. But job security is a notion from the past, and the opportunity for a high paying job where you can work-your-way-up is a myth. (A sub-illusion of The American Dream. I’ll tackle THAT topic later.)
My first five years out of college, I worked for other companies, three total. Since I started making $10,000/year, every move was made to increase my pay. It only took a few weeks of working for peanuts for me to realize “working for the man” doesn’t pay. So in 1991, I started my own advertising agency. And the 90’s were GOOD! Over the next ten years, I netted between $45-$75,000/year. My husband was working a full-time job—with health insurance benefits for us all! Now THAT’S the Dream—working for myself and making enough money to live comfortably with my husband and three kids. But it didn’t last.
When the Towers came down in 2001 so did my business. By that time my marriage had ended and I had moved into speaking and training as my career. Contract work was scarce, but the kids and I squeaked by. (Thank God, their Dad still has a great job and he carries the blunt of the kid expenses!) I was tired of struggling on my own so I made the monumental decision to “go back to work” for someone else. Financial problem solved, right? WRONG. And actually, WORSE!
When the recession hit, I was working a media job for a radio station. I loved it and I was good! I was on track to hit record sales numbers when the market plummeted. When a new General Manager cut my pay by 55%, I knew (as the only bread earner in the family) I was in trouble. Within five months I was able to find another job (also in media) only to have the same scenario play out. In a nutshell, after three years of “working for the man,” 45 hours a week—with gusto and determination—I am $17,000 in credit card debt (because even with a 55% reduction is salary—babies got to eat!!) AND I’ve lost my home. Ironically, working a job doesn’t work for me!!
So, here I am 20 years later from my initial realization that “working for the man” doesn’t pay, but I’m still searching for a “job” because—even with unemployment assistance—I can’t make ends meet. More importantly, though, I’m CREATING a job—or trying to. When the majority of jobs pay $10/hr and under, I can’t live on my own and raise three kids making $1200/month anyway. I AM my only hope. So it’s time—along with 2.5 million other out-of-work comrades—to figure out a revenue stream. Because, let’s face it, when the unemployment runs out, there is no one to help.
But, hey, this is ‘Merica and we’re ‘Mericans!! We’re all created equal and have the same opportunities?! Right? (Yea right. I feel another blog post coming on.)
If necessity is the mother of all invention, then look out, because I am one motivated mother!