Before Tamara Paylor was a graphic designer, she worked in sales. While she had been doing a little freelance work on the side, the money at her day job was good and that’s just what people do, right? They spend 40 hours a week working for someone else as their passion projects simmer on the back burner.
“It got to the point where I sat in my car or stayed home, figuring out ways not to do my job. I had to give myself pep talks to get out of the car and hit one more business.”
But after a conversation with her mother about her unhappiness and dream to be a designer, her mother offered, with more conviction than Tamara had ever heard, “You can do it.”
“I quit that week and never looked back,” Tamara said. She has now been running Mae Lea Designs full time for over a year.
By 2020, more than 40% of the American workforce will be freelancers, contractors, and temp workers. To celebrate #IndependentsDay, we talked with Thumbtack pros to understand why.
Being independent means having direction
“I’m proud to have found direction in my life,” says personal trainer Seabron Page. “At one time I was lost, but I found the area that filled me with passion. When I figured out who I was and what I wanted, I was able to go after it.”
In 2010, Teresa Song quit her pharmacy job and enrolled in cosmetology school. “The more I do hair and makeup, the more I understand what the word ‘passion’ means. Work doesn’t feel like work. I want to learn more, I want to inspire, I just want to do the work!”
Being independent means helping others
While one obvious benefit of working for yourself is unlimited revenue opportunities, that’s rarely the reason professionals leave traditional jobs to strike out on their own. Joe Nicholson, owner of Project Won Studios, said, “I won’t be on my deathbed saying, ‘I wish I had made more money.’ But I will be saying, ‘I wish I helped more people.’”
“I’m proud to work for my clients, more so than myself,” says photographer Mike Yost. “Striving to produce something for them is the greatest reward.” And if you listen to the stories of independent workers across the country, you’ll hear this time and time again. It’s the opportunity to make a positive impact in people’s lives that makes independent work so special.
Being independent means freedom
Freedom can mean taking a long lunch with a friend or picking up your daughter from school every day. It can mean going to an afternoon yoga class or working until midnight because time flies when you’re doing what you love.
What freedom really is, is choice.
For designer Tamara Paylor, it boils down to the ability to choose her own schedule and make her own rules. “I can do 18 hours today, then take the rest of the week off. And the beauty of it is that I can still continue to make money,” she said.
Being independent means resilience
Freedom and passion can come with a price — like never knowing when your next paycheck is going to come. Or dealing with taxes, health insurance, and licensing.
“I set my own schedule and work the hours I want to work,” Yost says about working for himself, “but it also means having the discipline to do the things I don’t like to do. You either do it yourself or nothing happens.”
But at the end of the day, it’s worth it. When asked if running her business was hard, music teacher Jan Van Horn said, “No, I don’t feel like it’s hard. But I love it, so that might be why.”
And that’s just it. No matter what obstacles throw themselves your way (because, trust us, they will), passion keeps us going.
Along with pride in the actual work, pros are proud of running a business. “I’m proud of myself for taking such a huge risk,” said Steve Botsford. Like anything, Botsford has dealt with the ups and downs that come with independence, but persistence produces his pride.
“I find pride in the fact that it’s my business,” said Paylor. “I’m not working 40-60 hours a week funding someone else’s empire.”
“I looked up the definition of “independent” in the dictionary,” Teresa Song remarked, “and this is what it says, ‘not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc. Thinking or acting for oneself.’ That’s exactly what it means to have your own business.”
How could you not be proud? Here’s to #IndependentsDay.