Everyone working for themselves is sponsored by someone else.
That person could be a spouse or a parent. That person could be thousands of people who give their money (mostly gotten from working 9-5 jobs). It could be investors with more money than they could ever spend in a lifetime. It could be credit cards, a loan from their future selves to the present.
Back in January, I read this post. “Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from
Here’s my life. My husband and I get up each morning at 7 o’clock and he showers while I make coffee. By the time he’s dressed I’m already sitting at my desk writing. He kisses me goodbye then leaves for the job where he makes good money, draws excellent benefits and gets many perks, such as travel, catered lunches and full reimbursement for the gym where I attend yoga midday. His career has allowed me to work only sporadically, as a consultant, in a field I enjoy.
Today, I am essentially “sponsored” by this very loving man who shows up at the end of the day, asks me how the writing went, pours me a glass of wine, then takes me out to eat. He accompanies me when I travel 500 miles to do a 75-minute reading, manages my finances, and never complains that my dark, heady little books have resulted in low advances and rather modest sales.
I nodded along with the article because it’s how my wife can afford to leave her job and work for herself. She is working as an Art Therapist for herself now. No longer under the yoke of another company doing something she doesn’t want to do.
I get up early, walk to the metro station and ride a train 45 minutes into the city. There, I work for 8 hours and take a train home again. This is on a good day. I’m usually out of the house for 11.5-13 hours everyday for work.
I am the stability that makes her endeavor work. I trade my time for money and insurance while she builds her business.
I was reminded of this article recently when I saw a related story published this week in Quartz. Entrepreneurs don’t have a special gene for risk—they come from families with money.
For creative professions, starting a new venture is the ultimate privilege. Many startup founders do not take a salary for some time. The average cost to launch a startup is around $30,000, according to the Kauffman Foundation. Data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that more than 80% of funding for new businesses comes from personal savings and friends and family.
Not everyone can leave their job and run out to follow their dreams tomorrow. It’s a risky proposition in the best of times. And most people don’t live in the best of times.
I applaud people who go out and make it work. But it’s not something everyone can, or should do. If you can start a company and be successful, that’s great for you. But don’t pretend like you did it all on your own. You had help along the way.
Photo by Joshua Earle