I’m going to share something with you. I cried about money today. I’m not a frequent all-out crier, although I do get teary-eyed from time to time. But this was a full-fledged cry of frustration and embarrassment. It brought to mind a similar incident last year at a Phoenix International ticket counter. I had missed a flight after having mixed up my time zones and I thought I’d have to spend hundreds to correct the mistake. Thankfully, the kindest of agents helped get me aboard the next flight at no cost. It’s funny to think about it now. I was having a GREAT coffee meet up with an author whose work has inspired my own and I quite possibly saw my plane to Pittsburgh fly overhead and never thought a thing about it – that is, until I was on the airport shuttle double-checking my boarding pass.
Today’s tears were because I realized that my health insurance had expired and there was nothing I could do to reverse it. I had missed a payment this summer, and while I continued with my standard monthly payment all other months, I never brought my balance back down to zero. And I also didn’t read the details of the letters sent to me. And then one day the insurance was gone. That same shame and sense of frustration built up to the point that I could barely say thanks at the end of a customer service call.
Why am I sharing this when most everything in me says not to and that I will appear to not have it “together” as an individual and a business owner? Well, authenticity is why. Vulnerability is why.
People make mistakes (sometimes costly) and I’m not immune to this. This feels to be a costly mistake for me because I’m told I won’t qualify for insurance until January. That’s the next two months without insurance, which I’m not exactly comfortable with. Life can feel hard at times, even for those of us that have it really good. The fact that I live in a warm house and there’s always food in the fridge (except when I’m overdue in getting to the store) is never lost on me. I have it good. But when you’ve botched your health coverage or when cash flow’s an issue even in a good year, life can feel a bit challenging.
Further reason I wanted to share this experience…many of you are small business owners or are otherwise self-employed. We experience the ups and downs and uncertainties that come along with this work. I once read that so many great ideas aren’t realized simply because the person or company couldn’t hang on long enough. Their idea, more or less, was just out of reach. They gave up too early or couldn’t go on pursuing that one thing they really believed in.
I remind myself of this every so often when I think about finding something more secure. I’m not nearly ready to go back to traditional employment. I still have initiatives to pursue with Cycle Forward and I’m having too much fun (except when choking back the tears while on the phone with healthcare.gov) to give this up.
Let me share a few highlights and low points from a year that actually has been my best in business:
- Opened my business bank account and got fancy checks
- Invested in a business management system so that I can invoice, track leads, log hours, do accounting, etc. Basically, between this and the dedicated banking I’m building a system. Making the time for the accounting is another story.
- Had my largest contract yet in terms of dollars, even if 50 percent of it went out to subcontractors
- On the topic of subcontractors, I worked with four this year. It’s the closest thing a sole proprietor will have to coworkers, was energizing, and – for me – is a sign of a growing business. I had enough work to share.
- In the coaching realm, I confirmed three new clients this week. This is big! There were times in the past that I didn’t even have three clients, and now I booked three in a week. I also have been outside with clients A LOT this fall. My coaching is nature-based, and this has been an ideal time to be outside with people working on their agenda for change.
- Did I mention that while this has been my best year in terms of revenues, I went about three months this summer without a consulting check? I had small amounts coming in from coaching clients, but no consulting payments. This was a matter of timing and cash flow, which can still be a challenge (hence, the health insurance debacle). I’m proud of the fact that I hustled to make ends meet: fewer meals out, yard sales, eBay and Amazon sales, etc. I stretched what I could until the the next significant check came in.
So it’s been that kind of year: incredible, energizing, challenging, and frustrating. Rarely do we get a year that is all good or all bad. Most of the time, it’s a mixed bag with awesome and icky rolled up in a single 12-month calendar. I wouldn’t trade it, but am looking forward to getting reinsured just the same!
Believe it or not the EXACT same thing happened to me. I moved over the summer and missed a payment…by the time I realized it and actually got around to calling in to get caught up because my autopay had cancelled due to a new card it was too late. My cash was no good to them. I was devastated! It could have been 6 months without coverage, fortunately open enrollment for my spouse’s job started in October shortening it to 3 months. This took our price up $300/month. Costly mistake. You’re not alone!
I’m sorry to hear this, Marissa, but am glad that you shared your experience. You are one of the savviest small business owners I know. You hit a road block and find a way around or over it. Or maybe even blast right through?
How beautifully you captured the tightrope of self-employment. I truly believe it offers lessons every day. You’re an inspiration!
It is sort of like a tightrope, isn’t it? Thanks for weighing in, my friend!
Lizzie Hessek says
It makes me so mad that you/everyone has to worry about how to finance something that is so necessary. Missing one payment when times are tough shouldn’t mean that you put your life in danger months later. I’m so sorry that you are going through this. You are strong and you are brave and you are fierce, and you sharing this story proves that.
Aww, Lizzie – thanks so much! It is frustrating. My situation could have been avoided, really. Not so, for the many who are really struggling to make ends meet. I’m looking forward to seeing you next week!