Are you an Entrepreneurial Employee or only a Copy Machine?

Saving & investing, frugality & simple living. They're all part of the wealth equation.
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Postby brad » Thu Jun 07, 2007 4:47 am

plonkee wrote:Now that is dedication to pursuing what will make you happy. Presumably you'll take any cost of living increase though?

Yes, cost of living increases would be okay, but this year I got a 10 percent raise and it must have pushed me over a threshold, as my managers are now telling me I'm getting too expensive for their budgets (all my work is on government contracts) so they're forced to give some of the work I used to do to more junior people instead. I've always done some project management as part of my job, it's inevitable, but as long as I spend more than half my time on writing and other creative work I should be able to stay happy.

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Postby Rush » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:01 am

brad wrote:I'm actually at a point where I'm planning to refuse a raise next year because as my hourly rate goes up (I work for a consulting firm) I get priced out the work I most enjoy doing. I am increasingly forced to delegate more of the writing work I enjoy and do editing and management instead, which I enjoy a lot less. I switched careers almost 20 years ago to get out of management, and don't want to get back into it now. I've already refused several offers of promotions, so I've been officially taken off the "career advancement track" and given a new job title, but now I'm going to be even more radical and refuse a raise. But it makes sense for me; I'd much rather stay happy than earn more money. They pay me well enough that I have more than I need anyway.

I completely understand your situation and I think you're making a smart move.

SIDE NOTE: By refusing a raise, wouldn't your employer just raise the billable rate and pocket more or does it not work that way?

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Postby brad » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:07 am

Rush wrote:SIDE NOTE: By refusing a raise, wouldn't your employer just raise the billable rate and pocket more or does it not work that way?

Nope, they wouldn't do that because they want to keep us cost-competitive. My billable rate is already lower than it would be otherwise because I'm off-site and thus there's less overhead, but there's no incentive for them to increase it. We have tight budgets to work with and I always aim to come in under when I can.

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Postby kick_push » Thu Jun 07, 2007 1:16 pm

i think for the first 5 years of my career i was a "copy machine".. i was basically happy that i even had a job, and was willing to do whatever it took to get a paycheck.. i still feel this way.. i've always been that person who needed stability in his life

now i think i'm more of the entreprenurial employee.. i've put myself in a position where i can explore my options.. i will have 100k in retirement money before the age of 30.. i will find a way to make that money work for me instead of the other way around

i'm always looking for better ways to make a living.. i have my resume out there.. i'm trying to find out what my real interests are.. i surround myself with business minded people.. i promised myself to never settle.. etc.

i'm still the same old "copy machine".. i've been working at the same place for almost 8 years.. reality forces me to be this way.. i have to pay the bills.. but my thought process has definitely changed.. i see where i'm at now as more as a "stepping stone" rather than a dead end

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Postby Wesley » Sat Jun 09, 2007 4:50 pm

This is an interesting discussion, good stuff Rush! While I didn't enjoy the obligatory flamewar (skipped those posts), this is an interesting topic. I think most folks start out their careers like Bill's's definitely easier than consulting or starting your own business. I like kick_push's notes...I'm in the same camp (more Tripp-like).

One similarity I've seen locally is at an Italian-style restaurant. While I don't want to offend anyone (please, no more flaming posts!), the majority of the employees of this restaurant are what I brand "hippies". They're great folks and hardworking...but they don't get paid that much and have been there for years. For these folks, they not only enjoy working together, but I often hear them chatting about spending time together after work as well. Perhaps Bill's wife fits more into this category? That might better explain her unwillingness to move (a close personal attachment to her co-workers, and to some degree, a disdain of capitalism/materialism). Just a thought.

Great stuff, enjoyed the thread!

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Postby TheFake » Sun Jun 10, 2007 11:25 am

Wonderful topic, and something I have been dealing with lately.

In the heady dot com days, I worked at an innovative company. The owner gave everyone a paid day off every six months that was to be used interviewing somewhere else. This worked to keep up morale, because nobody sat in their job thinking "I'm not appreciated here... I could make more somewhere else...mumble...grumble...". It worked surprisingly well, and I've continued the tradition ever since.

Honestly, it has worked. I truly appreciate every position I am in because I know it is exactly what I want. I have been up front with every employer about this policy. (It typically comes up when they ask the standard question "What do you not like about your current job?" and my answer is "Nothing.") As such, I have made a lot of friends in my field(s), and whenever I build teams, I know where the best people are. I love bringing opportunity and happiness to others' lives.

And I really want to back up Rush's point (and that adorable dog) that this doesn't mean I am a job hopper. So far, I have only taken up one of the offers, and that was three years ago, when I took my current job. I work on fun projects with great, talented people, and I am quite happy with the money. I have also continued interviewing the entire time, and have turned down quite a few attractive offers that may have looked better on paper, but the projects weren't as challenging or the people weren't as exciting.

It is very possible to be completely happy where you are, enjoy what you are doing, and still keep an eye open for even better things. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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Postby Gnashchick » Mon Jun 11, 2007 12:06 pm

My work experience is a little of both types. I've done freelance work and had my own business, but I've also done "copy-machine" type work. The job I have right now is a combination of both. I got the job as a freelance gig, but over three years it grew from occasional to part-time, and I've been full-time for three years. I enjoy my job. The hours are long but the pay is obscenely high. Because this job was essentially created for me, there's really no equivalent position at another firm that I could apply for - no job shopping for me. I would have to change (or re-focus) my career if I were to leave here.

But as for day-to-day tasks, I'm a copy machine. I take in a job order, process it, upload it, then send it on its way. I do get a variety of projects, so I'm not doing the same thing all the time. I occasionally get challenged enough to get frustrated - and when I'm frustrated it means that I've reached my limitations and I'm trying to push past them. I enjoy this job. I enjoy my work. I've been working with the same people for six years and have some great office buddies, I like the atmosphere and the boss is an inspiration, and did I mention that I'm paid a staggering amount of money? I also have a certain share of PITA regulations, hoops, checklists, processes and procedures that I have to go through on a daily basis. I hate this part of the job. I call it my PITA to Paycheck ratio. When the job becomes more of a pain than the paycheck is worth, I will go find another job.

If I left this job, I have several options: 1. Open a service bureau for photo & graphic arts work. 1a. Go to work for someone else's service bureau. 2. Go back to being "Gnash Images" and whoring my photography/photoshop/video/web design skills on my own. 3. Take a whole different direction, like teaching same mad skilz at one of the myriad technical schools or jr. colleges around town. 4. Take a completely different direction and going into something where I have no experience, and starting from scratch.

Ultimately, for me, job satisfaction wins out. Although financial incentives certainly do carry weight, I would be much more likely to take an easy, fun, stress-free job that pays schitt-fifty an hour over a high-stress, high-pressure position with a patronizing boss and people I don't like to be around that paid $300K a year.
Steal what works, fix what's broke, fake the rest

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