Do we really need a holiday to celebrate this? I gave up having a boss a long time ago when I started my own videography business. I don't know about you, but I like not having a boss! One of the perks of being self-employed is having to report to no one but yourself. No need to "call in sick" when I want to spend the day hanging with my kids or to meet a friend for lunch. I can take a nap in the afternoon and make all the personal calls I want. I get to choose my own hours and enjoy "working vacations" by attending WEVA Expo and other video conventions. My license plate holder reads "The only Boss I listen to is Springsteen."
However, being "your own boss" isn't quite the same as having a carefree life. Far from it. With being the boss comes much responsibility. Once we had a wedding shoot the night my husband's grandfather was gravely ill in the hospital. It was too late to try and find a replacement, and there was no one around to "cover" for me, as there might have been in a traditional work environment. I can't begin to tell you how many parties we have had to miss over the years because we had to videotape other people's events. There was no boss to call and tell, "Sorry, but I can't make it in." As a business owner, oftentimes you have to put your clients' needs ahead of your own—especially when videotaping their once-in-a-lifetime events.
It takes discipline and dedication to sit down and edit when the golf course is calling you. Be honest . . . Are you behind in your editing because you have too much work or because you're hardly working? Of course, it's wise to build in "extra time" with our editing projects, but if you continually do this, you will end up with serious backlogs and unhappy clients.
Most people can't wait for Friday and spending the weekend relaxing with family and friends. But most videographers are just gearing up for the so-called weekend, which is when the work really begins for us. The wedding-videographer lifestyle can be hard on your spouse or significant other if he or she spent the week working and now wants to enjoy the weekend with you. It can be hard staying out late partying with friends when you have an early wedding shoot the next day. I'm fortunate that my husband enjoys shooting second camera for me. We work well together, and shooting weddings would not be as enjoyable if I didn't have my husband to talk to or help me with the equipment, or just keep an eye out for something I might have missed.
Some people would say our clients are our bosses. They tell us what they want, and we let them know if we can provide it. The difference is, we have a choice. We can decide whether we want to work with a particular client. We have the power. When you work for a boss, he or she has the power to tell you what to do, and you don't have the choice of saying "I would prefer not to" or simply walking away. It's not a replaceable one-shot booking that's at stake; it's your livelihood.
If you co-own your business or have partners, everyone must still decide who gets final say over a project. Perhaps one person gets final say over the entire video production or perhaps you each have say over a certain portion. The important thing is that all parties agree ahead of time on what the expectation is. Sometimes cooperating, delegating, and reaching consensus can be as challenging as (or more so than) doing a boss's bidding.
If you have employees or hire subcontractors, then you are someone else's boss. You need to have an agreement that spells out rules and responsibilities. Do you treat them with kindness and respect and pay them on time? If they edit for you, do you spell out expectations ahead of time? If they shoot for you, do you give them their contact information and details of the day with plenty of time to spare? Do you follow up with them via cell phone during the day to make sure all is going well?
What if your subcontractors have a problem with a camera or client? The responsibility now falls on you, as the boss, to handle it. What if they cancel on you at the last minute? Your company is responsible, and you will have to face the bride and groom if something goes awry. From last month's column (The Need for Plan B), hopefully you learned the importance of having Errors & Ommission (E & O) insurance. As the boss, the responsibility is yours alone. Even with all that responsibility, I still prefer running my own business as opposed to working for someone else.
I don't want or expect a card on National Boss Day. Just knowing that I am the owner of my own business is reward enough. As Bruce Springsteen, boss of the E Street Band, would say, "Sometimes it's good to be the Boss!"