by Linda Hurtley
As with any job, there are many challenges but one of the biggest challenges of being an independent planner is not having a steady paycheck or employee benefits of health insurance and PTO. In the good years, yes, the income flows on a regular basis, but in the lean years it is stressful especially if you don’t have a second income. Other challenges include learning how to pay your own taxes and the isolation of working at home. Additionally, sales is your job whether you like it or not and so is accounting; yuck – I hate both!
I have been an independent meeting planner for over 24 years. It was a great gig while my three kids were little because it gave me the flexibility to work around their school and activity schedules, e.g., I only missed four gymnastics meets in ten years and had the opportunity to plan a couple big meets which was a lot of fun! My husband was supportive of my travel which was essential to maintain the family responsibilities (and insane kid schedule). Now that the kids are grown, the busy days and travel are much easier.
The commute to the office is great, especially on a day like today as I write this when the snow is falling and roads are slick. I get to choose the kind of work I do and who I do it with; in general, I have control of my project choices. There’s no need to dress up, put on makeup, or fix my hair because my officemate, Monster the Cat, doesn’t care how I look as long as he has a full supply of crunchies and gets a few belly rubs.
My solution for the isolation has been to volunteer with SPIN, attend networking meetings, and schedule business appointments. To combat the lean times, I take Trip Director (TD) work and contract with industry friends.
All in all, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, how could I give up the benefit of every day being Bring Your Cat to Work Day?
Linda Hurtley is the owner of Linwood Group Meetings. She has been an independent meeting planner for over 24 years specializing in meetings and membership management for mid-sized associations. As a benefit of her early years in the hotel industry, Linda excels at leadership, sourcing, and managing vendor partnerships. She is currently the Regional Director for the Central Region of SPIN.
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