School’s out

The last bell

When I was at school, back in the mists of time, even when the last bell rang we could not pack up and leave the classroom until we were dismissed by the teacher. It might be different now of course. However, a desperate rush for the door would not seem to indicate much enthusiasm for the subject we were being taught.

Not far down the road is the main office of a local vocational training centre. At 5pm there is a veritable stream of employees and possibly some students out of the door and down of the road, many lighting cigarettes or on their phones as soon as they step out of the door. I find that very surprising. I would guess that there is not much job satisfaction there if everyone is so eager to get away, but it seems these people are not alone. The Cabinet Office has apparently found that there is a huge variation in job satisfaction.

Getting satisfaction

Of course I am not surprised that those in authority have more satisfaction than those that do not, and clergy as top dogs work mainly at their discretion, helping people, which must be rewarding. However, farmers come pretty high despite lower incomes, and I suspect that is not so much because they are in charge of others, but because they are actually self-employed and more in control of their own destinies unless weather takes its toll.

We small business owners do have a considerable advantage in having job satisfaction, don’t we? We make our own decisions, do not have reason to resent the boss (unless we really hate ourselves), take time off when we decide to, and should anyway be running a business we enjoy.

I did not originally choose to start my own businesses, but I am so glad that it happened. After all, as referenced in the BBC article, while we should make good profits, our social well-being and life satisfaction are the main elements in being happy in our work. That stems from our independence rather than dependence on less considerate employers. Aren’t we lucky?

If only I had…

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There are the chosen few who have never worked for anyone else, and then there are the rest of us who used to be employed but now run our own businesses.

When we were employed we did not have total control of our destiny. Perhaps we didn’t choose the right employer or we could have moved somewhere else and we didn’t, and later we wished we had.

You know the sort of thing?

  • If I had known when I started work that I should have began at an investment bank and then I would have been paid today’s equivalent of 250K per year even if I were still making the tea.
  • I should have made a fortune working for an insurance broker and would have known to get out at the right time.
  • I shouldn’t have worked for XYZ. They were dreadful employers and just used me.
  • I should have earned megabucks in the Far East when I had the chance.
  • I should have stayed with EFG because they had and still have the best pension scheme ever (but I left to preserve my own self-respect).

We might all have certain variations on those themes. All those situations depended either on how we were dealt with by others who had power over us, or would have been pure luck along the lines of “if we had known then what we know now”.

Luck is chance and we can’t do much about unforeseen incidents in our lives. However in being in business for ourselves, we make our own decisions. We shouldn’t be at the mercy of anyone as we might be if with a bad employer. Our future is in our hands. We need to make the right decisions of course, and we need courage sometimes. We will still come to forks in the road and must do our best to take the right one. If we make a mistake we can learn from it, and need not look over our shoulders at what might have been.

When I started work I would have been surprised to be told where I might be now, but as an independent person in business who enjoys his work, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Anyway, if I had started at the investment bank, I wouldn’t be talking to you now, though I might have been a fat cat taking the flak for the economic crisis.

So having regrets is pointless, and being in control of one’s own destiny in business is beyond value, isn’t it? And isn’t business fun?


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