On Becoming Self-Employed

I’m trying to figure out where I fit in the employed — self-employed — unemployed landscape. Technically I’m still employed in that I will continue to have a paycheck for approximately three more months and I am still working on some “special projects” for my employer. However, it really feels as though I am unemployed, since I received the news (see previous post) that my position is being eliminated at the college.

As I write this I am working on plans to see if I can make a living being self-employed. I’ve been self-employed previously and I really believe that it feels more like being unemployed than employed. Not because you don’t work when you’re self-employed (usually, quite to the contrary), but because you do not have the security of the trappings that come along with those remaining good jobs that are out there – particularly those significant employer contributions to insurance and retirement costs as well as managing all that income tax crapola that requires special attention.

Although some of the advice is questionable, I am re-reading “Before You Quit Your Job” by R. Kiyosaki (you know, the Rich Dad guy) to get my mind around reviving my entrepreneurial spirit. More relevant to me have been several posts by Harold Jarche, including Freelancers Unite, Freelance Lessons, To be, or not to be a consultant, and So You Want to Be an E-learning Consultant.

I’m also faced with a bit of a dilemma. Although I would love to go down the entrepreneurial path, I do have concerns about my ability to put 3 kids through college in addition to all that other stuff like keeping a roof over their heads and food on their table. So I’m also sprucing up my job application materials with the thought of applying for several of the jobs that are recently posted or about to be posted around the region. Right now it feels like figuring out my next ten years is a bit of a full-time job itself.

On Becoming Unemployed

As many of my friends already know, I recently received notice that my job was being eliminated at Lake Superior College. I was fully expecting that I would hear the news that my job was being re-designed into a lower level title with less pay, but I had no inkling that my position and my employment would be cut completely. This picture of me in my office was taken just a couple of months before I received this news. Ahh, good times.

Along with three of my vice presidential colleagues, I received the kind of news that no one wants to hear – something to the effect of – “you’re no longer needed here.” Although that is not a direct quote, that pretty much sums up the situation. As part of a major reorganization at the college, the remaining administrators will take on new responsibilities and there are also quite a few things that probably just won’t get done any more. I’ve spent 15 years at Lake Superior College and about 27 years altogether working in higher education. A brief rundown of my time at LSC includes:

  • November, 1995: I accepted a temporary faculty position at LSC teaching accounting, starting the winter quarter of ’95-96 school year.
  • August, 1996: I started a probationary period on a tenure-track accounting position with the LSC faculty.
  • During the 2000-01 academic year I received some release time to serve as the Online Faculty Coordinator.
  • June, 2001: I resigned my faculty tenure (oops!) to become the Dean of Technology and Distance Learning at LSC.
  • June, 2004: Received a promotion to Vice President of Technology and e-Campus at LSC, and joined the President’s Cabinet.
  • November, 2010: I received notice of my impending lay-off due to reorganization and reduction in force.

I am now working from home on special projects during the three-month period when the college is obligated to pay me but doesn’t want me around (note: I don’t want to be there either as it is extremely difficult to deal with the near constant pity party related to my departure). I’m not exactly sure what is next. More info will be posted here in the near future.

My biggest regret/disappointment/concern has to do with my abrupt exit from the college community. After 15 years of service, and after creating (I believe, and so I’m told) a pretty decent record related to online learning and the uses of technology at the campus; it doesn’t feel good at all to basically just disappear from the campus and from my friends and colleagues. It feels as if I’ve done something wrong, which I haven’t. In fact, the whole thing is downright painful.