Self-employment 101: Thinking Like An Entrepreneur VS An Employee
By Dancing With Sloths
For many cammodels, the start of their camming career is the fist time they make a jump from traditional employment to running their own business. Many are prepared to work hard, but being a business owner is not just about working hard – you also need to think about your work differently. I would like to offer some tips on the differences between the employee mindset and the entrepreneur mindset, and the practical consequences these have for cammodels. The list of the differences is based on a short but excellent book “The Everyday Novelist: Business 101” by J. Daniel Sawyer. As you can guess, that particular book is for fiction writers, but some of the challenges we cammers face are actually quite similar, as you’re about to see.
Let’s first discuss how you approach your work when you’re an employee
1. The Hierarchy Dictates The Level Of Interaction
The organization you work for has authority over you. It offers incentives and guides your behaviour. You turn up and do your job, however your boss directs you.
2. Your Thought Process Is Task-Orientated
You have a job description that tells you what you’re supposed to be doing. You get handed tools that you’re going to use – maybe a computer with specific software, maybe some plates you have to wash, whatever it is you do. You turn up when you’re told, and do specific tasks with the tools you’re given; anything else is not your concern.
3. Predictability Between The Effort You Put In And What You Earn
By and large you know that if you put in this many hours, you will receive a certain salary. Aside from bonuses and commissions, your pay is certain and reliable – no less and no more than you’re contracted for.
4. Your Only Reward Is Cash
When you work, you get cash. When your career progresses, you get a bit more cash. The only way to receive more reward for your effort is to work overtime, or get better at your job so you get promoted, but in the end what you take home is good old cash.
So far so mundane. When we come to camming, we know that we should be doing things differently. “Being your own boss” is always mentioned as a perk, and we notice right away that our income is highly unstable, but what else is there to self-employment that’s different?
Let’s talk about being a worker who is also the business owner.
1. Your Interactions Are Based On Relationships.
It’s not just that contractually you don’t have a boss. You work with suppliers whose services you rent – from your internet provider to your payment processor. You have strategic partners such as sites where you cam, or colleagues you shoot video with, or sites you license your content to. You have relationships with your customers. All these are relationships between equals, and need to be thought about and negotiated on their own terms.
2. Thoughts Become System-Oriented
Rather than separate tasks, your camming business consists of systems. Every part of the business affects every other part, without seeing how these parts fit together, it’s hard to make decisions about where to direct your time and resources each day. For example, a cammodel whose priority is to pay the bills until her kid goes off to college should focus on parts of her business that are completely different from somebody who’s a porn star who wants to raise her profile as much as possible and win every award.
3. There’s A Variance Between The Work You Put In And What You Earn
Beyond the certainty that if you don’t log on you won’t earn anything. In some activities a little effort produces a lot of reward, in other activities lots of effort equals not so much reward, and this may not even be consistent over time. One hour on cam may result in $100 worth of shows, the next hour may bring nothing. A video you’ve lovingly scripted and directed may not sell at all, but a quick phone clip of you picking your nose might sell lots of copies. We’re all familiar with this gamble.
4. The Rewards For Your Efforts Become Assets
You also get cash, obviously, but that’s not where the rewards end. You also have tangible assets (your tools and toys, your premises, your inventory if you sell physical goods like panties), intangible assets (your relationships with customers, the reputation you have among your peers and even with suppliers), financial assets (money in the bank, investments), legal assets (your intellectual property every time you create something) and your digital assets (the actual files of any photos and movies you create, and live stream of your performance).
If you’ve never known a different way of working, it’s actually remarkably easy to carry on thinking and behaving as though you’re an employee. The structure of the cam industry makes this slip-up in thinking a real danger, especially if you work from a physical studio that insists you work a certain number of hours, or cam through sites that have lots of rules and restrictions and not much maneuver to negotiate. I call it a danger because you take on all the risks of being an entrepreneur, but don’t get any of the protections given by employment law. Nor do you get most of the advantages of running your own business. You may do quite well financially regardless, but it’s less probable that your business will grow.
Big box cam sites especially sometimes try to exert a lot of control on the models’ behaviour through incentives like competitions, cam score or other sorting algorithms, rules about what you can and can’t do or say when you’re streaming live, or even docking your pay as punishment. Now, you may feel like you don’t have much choice as to whether to work on a big box site, especially as a beginner, but if you think about your business as a whole, how you structure your time and where you direct your effort given these constraints needs to be something you think about. If the site is trying to play employer, your job is to avoid falling into employee thinking regardless. Think about your priorities, and make decisions about what kind of treatment you will or won’t accept.
Say, most sites try to perform a rights-grab by claiming intellectual property over your stream. Most of them don’t defend this right too hard – you can still split-cam on several sites (increasing your chances of selling more shows). You can also record your shows, producing assets (videos, stills or gifs) that you can sell on forevermore. If a site makes it difficult for you to split-cam or create digital assets you can keep selling on, or even tries to sell your videos for you, you may want to think about focusing more on sites that don’t have this restriction.
In summary, if you think like an entrepreneur, you need to focus on systems that grow assets through fruitful business relationships, through the most efficient application of effort.