Editor's Comment: This is part one of a two-part article. When Brad Bawmann became a CareerLab client in 1986, he was earning $12,000 per year as a writer for a poorly-managed, throw-away weekly newsmagazine. Under our guidance, he moved to a $40,000 position as Assistant Director of PR for the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center—that's a 333% increase in salary!—then on to a $55,000 job as head of PR for a three-hospital system, The PS/L Healthcare System. When PS/L entered a joint-venture with Columbia/HCA, Brad was named Director of Public Affairs for the ten-hospital system, and jumped to $75,000 per year—a 625% gain under CareerLab's mentoring!

Not bad from a $12,000 beginning—yet something was missing. An entrepreneur at heart, Brad longed to be in a business of his own, so we put a plan in place to create The Bawmann Group, a Public Relations consulting business, which was launched in September, 1995. Within six months, his earnings equaled a year's salary at Columbia HealthOne. Since then, his business has doubled and tripled—it's off to the races.

Where will it end? No one knows for sure, not even Brad. But he does have an insider's view of self-employment. This is a transcript of his talk to The Colorado Healthcare Communicators.

 

Consulting Means You Eat What You Kill
Brad Bawmann, President, The Bawmann Group
 
  When I decided to leave the comfort of corporate America, an older and wiser boss said to me, "Youíre going to eat what you kill now."

He was right.

Some days we eat pigeon. Some days we eat chicken. Some days itís mac-n-cheese.

Occasionally, we enjoy filet.

Being self-employed is the hardest thing Iíve ever done. I have never worked so hard and been so consumed by the demands of making ends meet.

Recently, my wife asked if my family could have my undivided attention for one day each weekend.

The self-employed celebrate Fridays with glee. "Great. Only two more working days until Monday."

Being your own boss means you can never set aside the thought of it.

I asked the father of a childhood friend who owns his own business, "When do you stop waking up in the middle of the night with cold sweats?" He said, "Well, Iíve been self-employed for 35 years—I hope it stops once I retire."

Still, having my own business is a dream come true.

Before, I was a "suit."

Now, I rarely wear the familiar uniform of corporate America: a tie and a stiff starched shirt. Jeans, turtle necks and shorts are my uniform of choice.

Have you seen the commercial about the woman who telecommutes? "I fax. I e-mail. I conference call," she chirps in her pink, fuzzy, bunny slippers. "And I still donít shower."

Because I am organized and disciplined, I donít have trouble going to work in my basement. In fact, the trouble is learning to turn off the work. I donít graze the refrigerator and I donít spend much time watering the flowers.

I do spend more time with our 4-year-old and 4-month-old. I see them more but I observe less.
So says my wife.

I am all consumed by not failing.

Once, on a conference call with a hospital CEO several states away, my preschooler bounded down the stairs, his pants wrapped around his ankles: "Daddy, wipe me!"

Such is the joy of working from home.

Would I trade it for a full-time job?

Maybe.

The job you have today is loaded with a thousand benefits and untold advantages.
Owning a small business means you have to scratch and claw for morsels of companionship, resources and perspective.

I thank God for Starbucks and Denverís growing number of coffee houses. They are my newfound business home.

In short order here are the best attributes of being your own boss:

  • A sense of freedom from the corporate yolk
  • I am my own boss
  • I work with a variety of clients on a variety of projects
  • I have created something that has some value in the universe
  • And I am living my dream!

On the downside, however, being your own boss means:

  • I am never free from finding new clients and pleasing the ones I already have
  • I am not my own boss, in fact, I now have 15 bosses
  • I constantly worry if working on a lot of projects with a variety of clients doesnít make me more susceptible to disaster
  • I wonder how much my relationships with my wife and children have been affected as a result of living my dream, and finally

Lest I be too pessimistic, let me share with you the realities of self- employment:

  • Quarterly, I send truckloads of cash to the IRS
  • My familyís health insurance will cost me $5,000 easily
  • I get no vacation or sick leave
  • And occasionally a client will forget to pay his bill. Or go bankrupt and stiff me $6,000.

Other than that, itís great.

Oh, and one more thing. If Iím not on the clock, Iím not putting pigeon or turkey or filet on my familyís table.

Gotta go.

:: Read part two :: Return to index of articles.

 


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