Realities of Self-Employment: Part 1

I have emerged from a temperature of 102° with a certain realization. When you get sick the world doesn’t stop. Email doesn’t get put on hold. Deadlines don’t get sick. Granted, I was only down and out for maybe 48 hours — but it’s enough to throw a wrench in the works.
thermometerIt goes without saying that it sucks to get sick. It happens. This is magnified significantly when you work for yourself, and your company is comprised of one employee. Those that work for businesses that have greater than one employee have the benefit of the company not completely shutting down should they call in sick.
Simply an observation, as well as another learning experience.


  1. Rob Mientjes says:

    Great to have you back. How come you got sick? Bad food or bad luck?

  2. Brian Tully says:

    sorry to hear about your being sick. it’s probably your body’s way of telling you that you’re doing too much! as much of a PITA as it was you probably needed the R&R. try to think of it as a blessing?
    glad you’re feeling better and hope you can ease your way back into the swing of things.
    p.s. i’m really loving your book!
    best regards,

  3. Jeremy Flint says:

    It is also a similar experience being the only designer in a small firm, which I am (or was until recently when we hired another designer).
    There have been many times I have come in and just quarantined myself from the rest of the office.
    Thank God for laptops and DSL.

  4. Maybe you should try harder remembering how much it sucks to work for someone else, especially if they’re a-holes.
    Maybe you just need to expand! I’m available, by the way, and more than willing to relocate ;-)

  5. Scott says:

    Glad you’re feeling better Dan!
    I myself hate it when I let school work pile up after being sick, that sucks.

  6. Mike says:

    Ahh, so that’s your excuse for the Overbytes loss the other day! I’ll let it go this time :)
    Just kiddin’ man, glad you’re feeling better.

  7. Rob – my guess is that it was a result of sitting out in the sun for the better part of the day, with nothing but a few dehydrating (but equally delicious) beers. A little sun stroke I guess.
    Mike – doh! And I’m proving to be a horrible fantasy football player ;-)

  8. Wayne Godfrey says:

    Know the feeling, only not only from the sick side, but from Nature’s fury! My wife and I have been trying to get our business going for a couple of years. First we lost a friend and a prime helper to cancer, then my wife was diagnosed with cancer. We manged to get her through and back on the path to good health, when these damn hurricanes decided to party in Florida. On Thursday we began boarding the house and by Friday evening we were on the road trying to find a place to be safe. Lotta fun to pack your life into a Toyota Rav 4 and and a Jeep Wrangler!! The computers got front seats of course!
    Glad you’re back and feeling better, we’re back home waiting to see what new TS ma nature is gonna toss at us next. The joys of tropical living!
    BTW, I ran a Fantasy football league for six years, I offer you this advice, like don’t listen to anyone in your league and look for a young RB who’s gonna break it open for his team this year. Like I said, I ran it, never did very well myself…

  9. That is so true! The worse though is when your mind is racing with ideas at 300mph but your body says, nah forget it! I had the flu last month and was unwell for a few days… yes it sucks! You want to do so much but you cant. Hope you get well soon Dan!

  10. ~bc says:

    We had a couple guys go down sick w/ something at work recently. Perhaps there’s something going around. As for being solo, of course, there will always +’s & -’s to independent employment. Perhaps an association of other designers who might work as a safety net if anyone gets ill. They might also work well as a crit group, if they sign NDAs and are trustworthy enough to not steal your clients. Maybe an understudy? Things that would perhaps make for an interesting discussion. One thing that would certainly help small biz: universal health care. If you get sick (for an extended period) and can’t work, and you are the company… I would imagine that’s trouble!

  11. MikeyC says:

    Glad to hear you are feeling better, as I’m looking forward to hearing you speak at TOevolt on Saturday.

  12. GODza says:

    Glad to see you with us again! ;)

  13. Dan Roberts says:

    Sorry to hear you were sick–glad to hear you are better
    by the way, your site works great on my nokia 6150. I wish more sites were this well designed

  14. ak says:

    i dunno – i was just out a with a good friend/brother in law who works for cisco… it sounds like whatever sickness came your way – its better than PIP (personal improvement plan – or something like that)… i hope you feel better and thanks for all the goodness at simplebits.

  15. Thom says:

    I’m self-employed as well, and I can honestly say that what’s worse than being sick is getting stiffed on the bill. My bunk-ass clients make me sick on a daily basis.
    Feel me.

  16. Kenny F says:

    Feel better soon! If it helps, I just bought your book, and I’m tellin’ all my design friends about it; so maybe the self-employment thing gets supported through a ton of book sales.
    BTW, I loved the Image/Image Replacement idea, that was great. I also love the Quotations section.
    Not to sound too corny, but; even while you were laying on your back, sick in bed, you were busy changing the world of web design. Thank you for that.

  17. Dann Ryan says:

    Wow, I was just sitting here thinking “I bet I go to Simple Bits and find “CSS Centering 101 again, Cederholm is getting so lazy.”
    Now Don’t I feel like a big jerk. Well, good to have you back man.

  18. M.e. says:

    Get a network of designer friends (or regular friends) together that can handle high priority emails, phone calls and emergency design work for you.
    In the past, I have offloaded such things to designer friends.
    Set email auto responders and phone messages of who to contact in case of an emergency (most of my clients are web). Have your partner contact any clients in person if a deadline might be compromized.
    It works great. Clients can appreciate things out of your control and are usually pretty understanding if you have gone out of your way to ensure their needs are met even when you can’t function.
    Compensate your helper friends with money, beer, and or by offering to do the same for them when the need arises.

  19. Ryan Mahoney says:

    I run my own one-man-consulting-machine as well and have taken a few sick days this week. It’s hard. However, I must admit, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as when I had employees working for me and they took questionable sick days…
    Hahah, I’m that @$$hole boss people complain about ;)

  20. Yet…if you’re the only guy that does-what-you-do within a business…it’s basically the same situation.

  21. koosh says:

    Glad to see you back Dan! Your book was great- I started with a redesign on some Intranet pages here at work, and have some other projects that I am planning to use it for.

  22. biniar says:

    Learn how to not get sick? :p

  23. Carmelyne Thompson says:

    /passes dan a cup of soup.
    hope whatever fever bug bit you gets squashed!

  24. Alberto Caso says:

    I hope you are 100% ok now.
    Btw, I also hope you were not 102°C but 102°F!!

  25. Susan Records says:

    Hi, Dan.
    Came to your site looking for a way to contact you and say how much I like your TicTac blog design at I grabbed it right away (the blueberry version).
    I found your email in your source code… but I’ll spare you the intrusion. :)
    Take care.