Taking Responsibility

Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is adult. I would much rather go back to the time when the most stressful thing I had to do was make sure my room was picked up to my mother’s standards. Back then, I didn’t have to worry about being responsible or, well, being an adult. But, like it or not, I grew up and real life smacked me in the face. So, I adult. I might grouse about it from time to time, but adulting happens. It has to if I want to make sure there’s food on the table and a roof over my head.

Sure, I could sit back and go on the dole but that’s not me. I’m not saying it would never happen. I learned a long time ago never to say never. But what it does mean is I’m not going to do so as long as I am able to work and do whatever I can to bring in money. You see, I don’t believe anyone owes me anything and that goes doubly for the government. I don’t want to have to rely upon the idiots in Austin or Washington for my well-being. I see the strings that come attached with their “help” and those strings aren’t something I want to deal with.

No, this isn’t going to be a screed against the welfare system. What it is is me trying to make sense of all the whining I’ve seen of late — hell, let’s be honest, since the election — by folks who simply can’t understand why others can’t be nice and throw money their way. These folks offer to do work at a certain price and then take to social media when they aren’t paid extra — or if they aren’t given the appropriate words of thanks for their efforts.

Years ago, long before I went into business for myself, I did my research. I listened to those in the profession — and this wasn’t writing but the lessons apply to it or to any other form of self-employment. They told me to make sure I had enough capital on hand to meet expenses, plus reasonable extras, for a minimum of 12 months. They preferred at least 18 months. Why? Because it would take time to build the business up to a point where it was bringing in profit. Until that happened, I needed to have money on hand to pay my bills, not just for the business but personally as well. I needed to make sure I had money for insurance and utilities. I needed to be able to handle an emergency if it happened. And believe me, emergencies happen.

Even now, when I write for a living, I have extra sources of income I tap into because I know some months won’t have the same level of income as others. I edit, I do consulting in my former “real life” job. There are others things I do. I don’t always like it but I don’t take to social media to bitch and moan — in public — about it.

It amazes me the number of people who do just that. Oh, they might not name names but they give enough detail that the “offending” person would recognizes himself should he see the post. Even if he doesn’t, someone does and, if they’re like me, they make a mental note not to ever do work with the person complaining. Sure, the complainer might have ever reason to be upset but you don’t air the dirty laundry in public. It isn’t good form when it comes to your business. You especially don’t do it when you are then whining because you aren’t getting any new customers.

Believe it or not, I had at least half a dozen of these sorts of stories come across my morning Twitter and Facebook feeds this morning. Not one of them showed a bit of personal reflection where the poster wondered if maybe they were the problem. Not one admitted that maybe they shouldn’t have taken the job they were complaining about. Nope, it was always the other guy’s fault. They didn’t understand the amount of work put in. They didn’t get that the tips were a necessary part of survival. They didn’t get. . .  well, you get the idea.

Here’s something we all need to remember if we’re in business for ourselves. Don’t bitch in public.

I know not every person on social media understands just how insecure their comments are. They think they have security locked down and then they never check their settings again. Well guess what? Facebook is notorious for glitching and setting your security at lower levels. There’s even a way that if a “friend” comments on your post, their “friends” an then see it. So that bitch session you thought was private is suddenly being viewed by hundreds or thousands of potential clients. Clients who are most definitely not seeing you in a favoring light.

There’s something else to consider. If you are so dependent on clients paying you above the contracted price, and if you expect them to do so, you are going about pricing wrong. The only business where most people will tip without thinking about it is the food service industry. Why? Because we know tips are the majority of our server’s income.

That’s not the case for contracted services. Do you tip your HVAC repair man? I don’t. Nor do I tip my plumber or my roofer. I don’t tip my lawyer or my accountant. Hell, my accountant would probably skin me alive if I brought in receipts showing I had tipped anyone except my waiter or waitress. I bet most of you are the same way.

In other words, if you have your contracted (legal) services — editing or painting or whatever — offered at a certain price and both sides agree to it, then it is assumed by the other party that you have priced your work at what you think is the appropriate level. We rely upon the person we are making the contract with to know how much money they need to meet their expenses. Then it is up to us to determine if those services are worth the cost BEFORE we enter into the contract.

This is all a roundabout way of saying we each need to take responsibility for what we do and what we charge if we are in business for ourselves. We can’t expect our clients to know that we are being nice — or desperate — when we offer a rate that really is lower than it should be. We can’t expect those clients to then give us more money than we asked for in the contract.

In short, it is time to adult and take responsibility — not for what anyone else is doing but for ourselves. And, with that, I am going to adult by making another mug of coffee and starting to work on Battle Wounds, the third short story in the Honor and Duty universe. Links are below to the Taking Flight and Battle Bound, the first two shorts.

Taking Flight (Honor and Duty)

Duty, honor, sacrifice. That motto meant everything to newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Ashlyn Shaw. She thought she understood the meaning of those simple words. Little did she know.

Challenged by those who believed she made it through the Academy on her family’s coattails, a roommate who just wants to see “some action” and a gunnery sergeant determined to make a real Marine out of her, Ash soon realizes what it means to be a Marine. As the signs point to war on the horizon, she is determined to do everything she can to serve Fuercon and do the Corps proud.

Battle Bound (Honor and Duty)

Newly promoted, Captain Ashlyn Shaw has been ordered to take Delta Company to the Bennington System. Their mission is simple: secure groundside defenses and seek out the Callusian invaders. It should be a simple assignment. The Fuerconese Navy had proven itself time and again since war had been declared to be more than a match for the Callusians. Once Taskforce Liberator, under the command of Admiral Tremayne, secured the system approaches, Ash and her Devil Dogs could get to work.

Except no battle plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. This time the Callusians are breaking pattern and it will take everything Tremayne and Ashlyn have to lead their people to victory.

The Devil Dogs will get the mission done, no matter what the cost.

1 Comment

  1. You know, I’m still trying to process the idea of tipping someone you have a contract with for a service.

    When I write a story as a freelancer, I send and invoice with a dollar amount for that story. This number is agreed upon by the customer and myself and is codified in a contract. There are also bonuses for various reasons in place.

    But I don’t sent a $1,000 invoice and complain because I only got $1,000 from the customer. That would be ridiculous, and I can’t grok someone doing that, but apparently they do.

    No wonder I sympathize with misanthropes so much.

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