Random Gum: Summer 2016 soundtrack

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Random Gum – Summer 2016 soundtrack: Alive and Kicking
Latent Love and the Pre-Internet Days

The whole playlist (minus the songs that don’t exist on Spotify…) on Spotify.

01. Simple Minds – “Alive and Kicking” …now it’s all or nothing/cause you said you follow through…

Appeared twice in the same week on primetime TV (The Goldbergs & Fresh Off the Boat), proving 80s/90s nostalgia is alive and kicking – Simple Minds and John Hughes, always leading the charge. For S, for Amber

02. Vorderhaus – “Stepping Off the Ghost Train” …You tell yourself you’re in love/I tell myself I don’t care/I’m stepping off the ghost train/I’m tired of loving you in vain…

03. INXS – “Never Tear Us Apart” …but if I hurt you, I’ll make wine from your tears…

A cover version of this with female vocal (Paloma Faith) appeared in L&O SVU and made me think of the original, and of the domino-like tragedy of HutchenceYatesGeldof. And after the “Alive and Kicking” appearances I also thought of former best friend Terra and her junior high crush on INXS’s Jon Farriss. She had gone to spend the summer in Aberdeen (Scotland, not WA), dreamt Farriss died and had written me a letter (yes – a real letter, as this all happened in the 1987-8 world before the internet) describing the nightmare, to which I replied, “Don’t worry – he’s alive… and kicking!” Which was only funny at all because INXS’s hit album was called KICK. For Terra. For S.

04. John Grant – “Geraldine” …we’re not like them, we’re not that strong/at least that’s what they have been telling us all along…

The gorgeousness of John Grant continues.

05. The War on Drugs – “Under the Pressure” …When it all breaks down and we’re runaways/Standing in the wake of our pain…

06. Glenn Frey – “The Heat is On”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCoP2W4v2v8
This has been a particularly rough year so far for musical deaths. I’m no Glenn Frey/Eagles fan, but this song plays into 1980s memories as well as a more recent vignette when two of my colleagues and I took our young Spanish intern to lunch for his birthday, and he commented on how I can possibly wear dresses in the cold, and I replied, “In the office, the heat is on…” The three of us old lady colleagues, in unison, burst into song, ‘The heat is on…’, which perplexed the youthful Spaniard.

07. AaRON – “U-Turn (Lili)” …you know there’s still a place for people like us…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTKfrY4cQ9I
Many thanks to my colleague, Laurent. This popped up at a time that everyone and everything seemed to be named Aaron, and as Key & Peele ended on Comedy Central, and I inhaled all five seasons in a few days, and keep going back to the “Substitute Teacher” clip in which the sub pronounces it, “A-A-Ron”.

08. Beach House – “Days of Candy” …I know it comes too soon/The universe is riding off with you…

09. David Bowie – “Sound & Vision”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoDamvrfUbQ
I’ve never experienced anything like the collective outpouring of shared grief and mourning for a public figure – and felt a part of it – the way I did when Bowie unexpectedly died in January 2016. I had never been a huge fan, but his departure felt like the dimming of a bright light that guided our path through the modern cultural landscape. For weeks afterward, I cried if I listened to him (which I could not stop doing) or thought about him. In the end, mortality will come for the flesh, but the work, voice, sound and vision live forever.

10. Lush – “Lovelife” …in your concrete arms I adore you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYzfT1zmAGg
Celebrating the resurrection of Lush, their 2016 tour and (possibly) seeing them in London in May (which, sadly, I could not). For all my Lush-loving friends (too numerous to count!). “Every door conceals a dream and a nightmare…”

11. Karen Elson – “Who’s Sorry Now?”

12. The Chills – “Soft Bomb Part One” …I’m tearing all my hair out with my hands/I know what they will never understand…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdI_xhB7bgY
For all the New Zealand-leaning ambitions and longing. For all the NZ friends (Trevor, Kimberley, Dan, Lauren)…

13. Los Blenders – “TJTQ”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXPvHOJFSWk
Tijuana! For Martina, as everything Mexican is.

14. Tennis – “Mean Streets” …Stay on your own/Or leave it alone…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ei2gXl203w
For Esteban and Ana, fellow Tennis fans.

15. KC & the Sunshine Band – “Boogie Shoes”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m47EQtAMzI
I don’t know how this fits into the soundtrack, really. I watched a documentary about the 1970s and thought we could use a pause here to groove on the decade

16. 88 ULTRA – “Oceans”

17. Christine and the Queens – “No Harm is Done” …I can follow/Wanna take the lead/but I roam all alone/With a heart so hollow…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQ6FYytu1pM
With more thanks to Laurent.

18. Damon Albarn – “Heavy Seas of Love”

19. The Ink Spots – “I’ll Get By”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dh4YlBKNZso
For S the Firewall

20. Elvis Costello – “Sweet Pear” …But there’s a void without your kiss/I wake on the precipice above the abyss/And though the touch of your lips these fears dismiss/Make no mistake there is an ache I have to live with…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ9bVpGLego
“Was my grip too loose, my grip too strong/That made you want to run away/And now you’re back where I pretend you belong/I wonder every night and day, how long?” For Roberto.

21. Dom La Nena – “Saudade” …E onde é que foi que vi voar aquele beija flor/Onde esta agora os restos de um amor que machucou/E o tempo passou, você não mudou/A quanto tempo foi que você não voltou…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG8cpJCl7Mk
Brasil, so much in the news, so much in the thoughts, this year.

22. Soapkills – “Wadih”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoLA1tCLcBI
Many thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.

23. Sleeper – “What Do I Do Now?” …is there someone else, am I too familiar, was it when I said I wanted to have children…?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSe3dV7dPYw
I’ve always preferred Elvis Costello’s slower, sadder recording of this song. Every time I hear it, it seems to take on new depth and meaning. “What do I do now? Are we going under? What did I do wrong? I thought we had it sorted out the other day. Maybe I’m just stupid. Thought we’d try again. No one told me it was raining.”

24. Linda Mirada – “Lío en Río”

25. Crystal Castles – “Plague”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx2lJIOTBjs
For and thanks to Roxane.

26. Saint Motel – “A Quick One While He’s Away” …It’s like a dream to be with you again…

27. Townes van Zandt – “Waitin’ Around to Die” …sometimes I don’t know where this dirty road is taking me…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbsMn476T2U
Never get enough of Townes. “Now I’m outta prison, got me a friend that lasts. Well he don’t drink or steal or cheat or lie, well, his name’s codeine, he’s the nicest thing I’ve seen, yeah, together we’re gonna wait around and die.”

28. Psycho Killer – “Road to Nowhere”
Stuff like this (the original anyway, and the Talking Heads in general) and The Pretenders – stuff I could not appreciate until on the cusp of being “aged” like cheese or wine.

29. Tom Jones – “The Young New Mexican Puppeteer”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvQHt5t7zkg
Of course I’m inspired by Martina (another Mexican thing) here and how kind of comical this song is, but also thinking of multiple discussions on the dislike for Welsh people (haha) and the recent passing of Tom Jones’s wife (RIP).

30. Salt Petal – “Cumbia de Billinghurst”

31. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio” …No comprende/it’s a riddle…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyCEexG9xjw
For Martina. “I wish I was in Tijuana/eating barbecued iguana”

32. Telefon Tel Aviv – “Helen of Troy” …Your face is the place/where it ends…

33. Clan of Xymox – “A Day”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiJ3KU0bme0
This certainly takes me back in time.

34. Ezra Furman – “Body Was Made” …Your body is yours at the end of the day
and don’t let the hateful try and take it away…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkEkjxX_YrM
Had not heard so much saxophone in a long time, and stumbled on this right after having multiple conversations about how the name “Ezra” isn’t one you hear often.

35. Lush & Jarvis Cocker – “Ciao!” …life is wonderful now that I’m rid of you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0Jvo5_IrlI
This is 1996 for me, two of my favorites of the time, trying to break away from the grip of shitty relationships that seem to be the telltale sign of young adulthood.

36. Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction”

37. Mashrou’Leila – “Imm El Jacket”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsablD8vu0w
Thanks to Aurélien and Catherine.

38. Eddie Rabbitt – “Drivin’ My Life Away”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tvEvBUG8mY
Music my mom listened to a lot when my brother and I were children. My brother had an angry-looking, fluffy blue stuffed rabbit he named “Eddie Rabbit” thanks to our exposure to this. Wondering what happened to the little rabbit, as I made some of my last long-haul drives in the middle of the night between home & Gothenburg.

39. Irma Thomas – “Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)”

40. Townes van Zandt – “Be Here to Love Me”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6NPj9M_p20
“Your eyes seek conclusion in all this confusion of mine/though you and I both know it’s only the warm glow of wine/that’s got you to feeling this way/but I don’t care I want you to stay/hold me and tell me you’ll be here to love me today”

41. Bertrand Belin – “Je parle en fou”

42. John Grant – “Down Here”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eViyPYJ2okc
“Cause what we got down here is oceans of longing/And guessing games, and no guarantees/And you work so hard to be in control/And now you’re laughing at yourself because you can’t let go”. For Roberto.

43. Still Corners – “Beginning to Blue”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgEB3rY8ZGI
Lovely song anyway but its placement in the stunning second season of You’re the Worst, when you’re hit with the realization that the main character is descending into a deep, dark depression was perfect.

44. Philip Selway – “Coming Up for Air”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMxXmW1pqeU
For Kyle. “You hafta come up for aih(s) sometime”. Ugh/puke.

45. Robyn Hitchcock – “1974” …And as Nixon left the White House you could hear people say/’they’ll never rehabilitate that mother, no way’…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVDDXFpVjNU
Robyn is just a magnificent storyteller, master of verbal imagery and a genius. Love! If “Boogie Shoes” was a grooveable 70s moment, this is a philosophical rumination on that ruinous and ugly decade.

46. Elvis Costello – “What Do I Do Now?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuJJBJHDUcY
Had to include this version, too, of course.

47. Alex Vargas – “Till Forever Runs Out”

48. The Cure – “A Strange Day” …Held for one moment I remember a song/An impression of sound/Then everything is gone/Forever…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4mym0EFKM8
For Gary, with whom it’s great to be back in contact. Here’s to the best moments of our teenage years.

49. New Edition – “Cool It Now”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZUq6N7Gx1c
I remember enjoying this video as a little kid – and then the tune turned up in the soundtrack to Master of None and I just had to include it.

50. Happyness – “Montreal Rock Band Somewhere”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hcwZ9EptZs
“What do you do when you hate all your friends?”

51. Tobias Jesso Jr – “Without You”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ybYYKBd_40
“I can hardly breathe without you/There is no future I want to see without you/I just don’t know who I would be without you/There is nothing out there for me without you…”

52. Koudlam – “See You All”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYu3Y7JT810
I don’t know why, but this song is the right one for walking through the city and waiting in queues.

53. bigott – “Baby Lemonade”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So7IharnjCs
“Like in the movies, she wake up dreaming/nothing is hiding/if you can find it…”

54. Giant Sand – “Stranded Pearl” …every girl is like a pearl/hearts strung along and then left stranded…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcUKHnrTXzg
A great, visual, wordy song. “I lost me my eye in a battle/went there to rattle their cage/lost sight of the big picture/now this permanent fixture is my rage”. (Made me think a bit at the end of a Derek Walcott poem, “Codicil”, which ends, “All its indifference is a different rage.”)

55. The Staves – “Black & White”

56. Jordie Lane – “Fell Into Me”
Sounds very reminiscent of Neil Finn. Thanks to Nicki.

57. Ra Ra Riot – “Foreign Lovers”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unmaQzVS9lw
“Well the one in Chicago wasn’t there anymore, and because that thing in Berlin wasn’t anyone’s fault… I got no idea what’s fair but I knew before – you got foreign lovers”. An insanely fitting song, stumbled on by accident. All the foreign lovers (and hilarious that Chicago and Berlin are the cities referenced…).

58. Niyaz – “Beni Beni”

59. Jaakko Eino Kalevi – “No End” …I guess it’s useless to say/I want you to stay…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HT6dDiQBPPI
The Guardian described Jaakko thusly: “tram driver in Helsinki by day, weird-pop maestro by night”.

60. All We Are – “Keep Me Alive” …I hear nothing at all but your breathing…

61. Fairport Convention – “Who Knows Where the Time Goes?”

As an adolescent, my friend Terra and I ‘discovered’ Fairport Convention, and it’s still something nice to listen to. When I listened to this again and reflected on the time that’s passed by since we were friends, and particularly since we were close and finding new music together, the song was particularly poignant and bittersweet.

62. Núria Graham – “Dark Past” …everybody’s got a dark past/but mine is just about to start…

63. David Bowie – “Cat People” … Just be still with me/You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through…

64. Cousteau – “Last Good Day of the Year”

“When the summer’s light is fragrant/with scents of returning/you relent, you resent, now you’re burning/for nothing to change…”

65. Wire – “German Shepherds” …it’s beginning to and back again…

Song title made me think, in a very roundabout way, of the Paris attacks of November 2015. Following the attacks, the French government went on the offensive and a Belgian shepherd (like the one in the TV show Person of Interest) was killed during a raid, prompting the Russians to give a new dog to the French. Hmm. Then in March, of course, Belgium fell victim to yet another terror attack.

66. Pet Shop Boys – “Love is a Bourgeois Construct”

No sentiment could be truer. November 2015, driving around downtown Tacoma, with thanks to my brother, Kyle, on relationships: “That phase of my life is over.”

67. Vorderhaus – “Venus in Retrograde” …how do you really love/the truth is happening/it’s venus in retrograde/the dark affair within…
You know you want more: https://soundcloud.com/vorderhaus/

68. Townes van Zandt – “For the Sake of the Song” …nothing’s what it seems/maybe she’ll start someday to realize/if she abandons her dreams/then all the words she can say are only lies/when will she see that the gain is only to lose/all that she offers me are chains/and I got to refuse…

For ML. “Maybe she just has to sing for the sake of the song/who do I think that I am to decide that she’s wrong?”

69. The Paris Sisters – “I Love How You Love Me”

Dreamy.

70. Blur, Françoise Hardy – “To the End”

71. Primal Scream – “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” …I betrayed you, you trusted me, and I betrayed you…

Sometimes you realize that even when something is ostensibly done, you cannot fully move forward until you have let go completely of past things and people. The sad reminder of the last conversation, last realization/S.

72. Amanda Bergman – “Vintersaga”

For many reasons I put this here – it’s a Swedish story full of Swedish place, but it is also choice for its connection to dear Andreas, the value of musical recommendations, and to our many talks about ad copy and the fraudulent feeling of writing stuff without meaning, pop culture stuffing of ads & such.

73. David Bowie – “Where Are We Now?”

Constant striving for Berlin, which represents a constant striving for change.

74. Prince & the Revolution – “When Doves Cry”

What can I even say? If Bowie was a loss and a shock, the loss of Prince was an even greater shock. For me, Prince is always freshest, best and alive in the Purple Rain period. I fell in love with the first time I heard this one as a child. RIP.

75. Johnny Cash – “The Beast in Me”

A fitting ending, in many ways. For S. “God help the beast in me.”

Up in smoke: Lessons from Tinder

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I am not in the market for a relationship or a hookup or anything else. I’ve been burned, twisted, chilled and disturbed by the grind and the hell of relationships – or rather by the ruptured “trust” experienced with the people in my life, particularly in the last few years, and feel more than ever that the only important relationship is the one I have with myself. I realized as this year winds to its close that I have actually neglected the real relationship with myself and have focused on all the wrong things, distracting things, because I did not want to face various things. And it’s time for that to stop.

That said, comfortably ensconced in this insular, individual cocoon, I had become curious about different dating platforms after reading a lot of articles about the on-demand nature of dating apps like Tinder and sites like OkCupid, so I decided to do a limited-run test of some of my suppositions.

Nothing scientific or controlled about my trial. I have no controls for geography or generation (I’m old, and assume most people who match with me are also older or have ulterior motives – but that’s my hangup, which is also something I cannot account for in this uncontrolled trial) … really for anything. I only wanted to test whether Tinder especially was an instant hookup tool. As in, someone messages you and immediately tries to hook up and/or gives you very little information about him/herself. From everything I had read, and this may only apply to the target youth/millennial demographic, it is like an online smorgasbord of impersonal and reactive potential hookups that shift quickly into meeting and hooking up and then… who knows? (I have read other articles that indicate that it is not being used only or primarily for semi-anonymous hookups… but I guess it does not matter where reality is.) My curiosity drove me to check it out for myself.

A few weeks ago, then, I set up a profile, had a few very brief exchanges with people in the UK, Sweden, Norway and a few others in Europe. Most led nowhere, but also did not lead to any kind of lurid discussion or casual suggestions. I got a lot of info about people’s ugly divorces, concert-going plans, music tastes, career aspirations and business, people’s children and just normal person stuff. I have gotten to know one person outside of the app, which has been really surprising and cool, but unexpected and probably anomalous. I met no one in reality/in-person and had no desire to do so, other than the one, anomalous case (and deleted the profile recently when I went to the US and started getting all these “super like” notifications out of nowhere once my geography had changed).

The funny thing is, though, that I was hanging around with my brother, and he explained “how men use Tinder” and promptly swiped “right” on every single girl that popped up and explained the odds game and how he can always disconnect with someone if he does not like them after they’ve matched with him. So yeah in that sense, which I naively had not even considered, it can be a cynical numbers game. I found that I was the opposite. I swiped “left” on almost every single person I saw (again, this might be motivated by the fact that I had no desire to meet anyone). To me, the “accept everyone and go from there” approach seems ludicrous (especially since I am a wee bit of an antisocial hermit and workaholic who doesn’t have the time for this kind of time-wasting nonsense), but I can see how it could work in at least someone’s favor.

My curiosity is satisfied, even if I did not learn anything valuable. “Love is a bourgeois construct.”

The changing workscape: Going it alone

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Whether picking up freelance projects here and there as a kind of sole proprietor or doing something a bit more formal, setting up a company and running it, the current job market coupled with the difficulty of being “seen” by recruiters (even if you’ve got the experience, talent and skills required) are making more and more people choose to go it alone. Obviously deciding to work for yourself requires a kind of independence, confidence and belief in your skills and ideas that will give you the strength to persevere through lean times. The challenges of launching and marketing a new business – and the need to basically do at least two jobs at all times (the job/specialty you are selling and then the actual selling/marketing of those services) can be daunting. Never mind the bureaucracy and accounting work you will have to consider…

But going into business for yourself isn’t all risk, no reward – or people would not do it, keep doing it and loving it.

Beginning to see the light
The job search has been long and tough – very few interviews, or a lot of interviews that lead nowhere, and you start to think that maybe you would be better off – and much more in control of your professional destiny – if you strike out on your own. This initial “seeing the light” can be deceptive, of course, because on the surface it sounds a lot easier to just take matters into your own hands and go from there. If you’ve never started or run a business, though, you could be in for a few surprises in terms of how difficult it can be. Do your homework. But don’t let the challenges stop you. You will actually be a stronger person and may either become a successful businessperson, recognizing that this is where you belong – or you may just bolster yourself and gain insight and independence enough to know that you do belong in a regular job. But the experience of starting your own business and creating your own job has prepared you in whole new ways you could not even have imagined for the job you eventually seek. You are broadening your horizons no matter what road you take.

But first things first.

How did the “light” first come on that made you consider becoming your own boss?

The hard search – not being seen
The aforementioned “not being seen” in the job hunt is becoming more common. A recent, popular thread on LinkedIn discussed the increasing difficulty of differentiating yourself as a job candidate, particularly when you are something of a jack-of-all-trades. This inspired me to write on the subject of recruitment and HR and the foibles therein. A friend and former professor sent me another article about how HR has begun to embrace “big data” – and this is starting to influence hiring and retention decisions to, as the article points out, an almost creepy degree.

A true jack-of-all-trades, as many people pointed out in the comments to this post on LinkedIn, may be better off channeling all of those myriad skills into his or her own enterprise. If someone else cannot take in and appreciate the generalist, DIY, can-do approach to business, who better to benefit from your work than you – and the stable of clients you eventually cultivate?

When you have done your due diligence – and that means, really taking the time to tailor each application you submit (which may mean cutting back on the jack-of-all-trades theme to market yourself as a specialist in a few key areas, targeted for the specific job) – and you still find yourself getting nowhere, it might be time to apply the same efforts you make in the job search to assessing what kind of business you could do on your own using the skills in your toolbox that others have not seemed to cotton to. Do some market analysis – what needs exist that you can address?

This may be the best way to be seen and to make a mark.

The risk of self-employment 
Most things really worth doing do not come without any risk.

The biggest risk – you might fail. Many small businesses fail. It’s par for the course. But is failure in this case really failure? It’s a mixed bag. You may lose your shirt, but you know that there is always another shirt where that one came from. You will never learn as much as fast as you do in starting and running your own business – succeed or fail. If you fail, you take away valuable lessons and experience. You can either apply these lessons to your next business venture (the entrepreneurial bug is strong once you start) or apply the lessons to your next job. You are richer for it. “..a recent survey of 1,000 small business owners (conducted by Deluxe Corp and reported in Business Insider) shows that the vast majority of them are confident in their endeavors and say they’d rather embrace potential failure than never try at all”. Once you make up your mind, you’re pretty sure that you can live with failure – and need to be optimistic about success, regardless of the statistics, or you would not be likely to give the business your all.

Some might argue that it is a risk to work for yourself because you are sort of taking yourself out of the workforce specifically in your field and thus might fall behind on new trends or technologies because you are not active in that field. I doubt this. If you’re leveraging your former experience, chances are, as a self-employed person in a similar field, you have to stay ahead of the curve on trends to be competitive. This is why companies will turn to you – as your own enterprise, you are expected to be on the cutting edge. You might ultimately end up ahead of the game.

Difficulties & hard times
Money, money, money
I think one of the major reasons that more people don’t go into business for themselves, which goes beyond the not knowing how or where to start is the cash flow situation. Not only do you not have start-up costs on hand, but you, like everyone else, have bills to pay. And many people are motivated in large part by the paycheck. A steady job, even one you hate, pays you and ensures that you keep a roof over your head and all the rest. But, while theory won’t keep the wolf from the door, the idea that you work just for a paycheck is the kind of mindset that you should work to change.

Learning curve
You have a lot of skills to apply to the work you eventually want to do in your business. But to get there, there’s a lot to learn about starting, operating and building a business. This kind of knowledge doesn’t come overnight, and you will have to work hard and be patient, embracing what may be a steep and possibly winding learning curve.

Overreaching & lack of planning
You might try to do too much, too fast and overreach. You can easily lose the plot by doing this – and burn yourself out. Be sure to have very specific goals – and don’t stray too far from these, even if you see opportunities to dabble in a bunch of different areas outside your core business. This can lead to trouble, especially in the early days when you struggle to find your footing. You need to have a good plan from the beginning and, while you can exhibit some flexibility, straying too far outside the guidelines can get you into trouble, mired in projects that you cannot fulfill your commitments to. The temptation to do this can be great, especially when money is tight in the beginning, but you’re better off in the long run if you stick to your guns and do not take on something you cannot handle. Does that mean you should not challenge yourself? No, but definitely evaluate whether a project is within the scope of what your business and your expertise can offer. You risk a big bundle of stress, financial losses and a potential hit to your reputation if you don’t manage yourself and your obligations carefully.

Legal trouble
Further on the previous point, if you are careless about making delivery promises or careless in taking care of all the required aspects of establishing a business legally (especially where it concerns intellectual property), you can quickly find yourself in legal trouble. This is somewhere you definitely do not want to go. Failing in a small business is one thing – getting tangled up in lawsuits is entirely another. Always put in the time to make sure everything is above board and legal.

The rewards of self-employment
Flexibility
One of the biggest bonuses of working for yourself is the flexibility you can build into your work life. Sure, you will probably be working most of the time – but it’s your business and your time. When you need to run out and do an errand, no one is looking over your shoulder and asking you to punch a time clock. Your time is your own, and you know that you get what you put into whatever efforts you are making. For me, the home office has been a boon – I have discovered that unknown levels of productivity are possible for me when I am working at home, so the readjustment to office life has just not worked well. Sure, I need to be flexible as well – but having your own business buys you this kind of freedom.

Nonstop learning
If you are anything like me, one of the battles of working in a regular job is that many of them have an initial learning curve (new company, new project) but then once you have mastered a few things, there is not a lot of brain stretching going on. This is not always true – there is always something to learn but you’ve got to be proactive about seeking it out. Sometimes the traditional work environment, even if you are like a sponge, picking up new knowledge and skills, just wants to pigeonhole you into whatever role you are doing, and the lack of growth that results from your gusto to learn leaves the learning less than satisfying. This is never a problem in your own enterprise. You have to learn to keep going, and you will apply everything you learn all the time. For those for whom endless curiosity is a constant nag, self-employment is one salve for the soul.

Building your network, building your reputation
Don’t give yourself a bad reputation! Building up your network of clients is the best way to get more clients. In my own experience, I have tried various types of advertising and marketing, and the single best way – that keeps paying off after literally years – is word of mouth. Former/current clients are asked by friends and peers for recommendations, and even if eight years have gone by, they will remember the work I did and pass my name along.

This leads to the next point – working for yourself, you are the show, so you have to put your best foot forward and manage your reputation. Clearly building a solid reputation with clients makes you memorable, keeps them coming back and will grow your business even without you exerting effort. The effort you make today can pay dividends later.

Satisfaction
You did it! Whether you stick with it forever and keep growing or just do the self-employed thing for a while, you did it. You stuck with it and now have this invaluable experience to show that you’ve got business experience, sense and acumen.

Seeing the signs Do it alone
The way things are going – both in the job market as a whole and in specific industries, and perhaps just in your own field – you should be able to read the writing on the wall to assess whether the time has come to strike out on your own and make a go of it.

It’s not that I am a vocal advocate of starting one’s own business – I have done it because I found myself unemployed and with few options living in a new country. And if it seems like a bureaucratic rat maze navigating the vagaries of legal, financial and other considerations in starting a business in your own city, imagine doing it in a foreign country in a new language. But the fact that I managed means that pretty much anyone can do it if you have a solid plan, a target clientele, a way to market yourself and a lot of patience – and networking skills don’t hurt one bit. It is hard work – perhaps even harder and much more time consuming than going to a regular 9 to 5 job, but it can be a salvation and even an addiction once you start to see positive results and the fruits of your labor.