Occasionally people will ask me, “What’s the hardest part of being self-employed?”
While there are a variety of answers which easily fit into this box – finding and pitching new business, managing client relationships, and many others, the one which often rises to the top for me is managing your own IT. Working in a larger organization it’s easy to take for granted how easily technology works for you on the job. Whether it’s a routine software update, piece of new technology you require to do your job, or the dreaded computer freeze/crash which can bring your work to an abrupt halt, IT plays a big role in modern work. That being said, working for yourself requires you to acquire your own IT hat and solve many of your own technology woes yourself.
Now entering my third year of self-employment, I’ve found that I’ve become well versed in issues like resolving website bugs, finding cost effective digital tools to speed up everyday business functions, and most importantly of all, keep a better cool when something breaks. Back when I was a member of a larger corporate structure, I remember being a little less resilient when it came to technical glitches. Instead of trying to solve the problem myself, it was often easier to send a ticket to a member of the IT team and have the problem resolved with their help. In retrospect, I realized doing so weakened my ability and resolve to take on technical challenges.
Working for yourself you don’t have the same luxury. Instead, if something breaks you have to calmly pull yourself back from the digital edge and analyze what’s wrong with your device or gadget. Luckily I’ve found the internet is friendly when it comes to technology meltdowns. Think your issue or challenge is unique? Chances are it’s not. A little bit of research often reveals your problem has likely occurred numerous times for other users. This rabbit hole eventually leads you to the good side of the internet, a diverse collection of self-organizing sites of information where you can learn how to fix your issue and even a few links to learn more about the product or service you’re using.
Most recently I experienced this issue with my main website, joshuaholland.co. After working perfectly for almost a full year, my WordPress powered site began to malfunction after an update. As the main anchor to my digital properties, this was terrible news. Having a non functioning website is just as bad as not having a phone or business card. After a few long hours and cups of coffee, I tracked down the bug to a plugin which worked well when I installed it but didn’t work perfect with the latest update, preventing me from publishing and editing basic content on the site. Doing a bit of research online helped me discover this plugin had caused many other users heartbreak as well. Using the information I gathered, I was able to resolve my site’s issue and get back up and running.
IT is often taken for granted in corporate work environments. Help is just a click away and too often users are not empowered or encouraged to solve their own issues. While it’s likely a time saver for many organizations, in today’s digital world, there is a lot to be learned from resolving a few glitches here and there. When and if I do return to a corporate work environment, I’ll definitely bring my digital tool set with me and take a little more time to diagnose my own bugs first before pushing the IT button.