It has been a tremendous experience being "the man" of my own facility. Since I was the guy who determined exactly how and when resources were applied to my client's projects, a few extra hours spent here or there was no big deal. I was in control of my time and my facility. I could select specialists from the best freelance pool around and apply their unique skills as I saw fit. I was never at the mercy of another facility for recording time, mixing time, or scheduling freedom. Owning and operating this way is a perfect solution for many problems. So perfect is it that I failed to attend to its downside. I became a slave to my facility.
Once my facility became more important than its owner I sought to have a continuous workload because you never know when work may dry up. I sought to keep the equipment fully up to date and funtional, to give 110% to each task, to adapt daily to client's ever-changing schedules. Sound people have amazing tools to work with and we are expected to handle a much wider range of problems than ever before. The biggest problem a sound facility has, though, is the ever-changing "locked edit". People regularly declare a show to be "locked" but only a fool can believe them. Managing change has become my hardest job and it had replaced the joy I get from sound work. I was at the studio 7 days a week, missing family holidays, waking at night to worry. You see, the trick to running a boutique sound shop is to juggle multiple projects that are in a constant state of flux while doing the actual sound work and looking after repairs and updates and mundane business matters. When projects inevitably overlaped my goal was to make sure they did not interfere with each other. It was a naive goal that proved to be impossible. I added 2, 3, and sometimes 4 hours to each day simply to manage change. My business had grown into a monster. With so many distractions during regular workdays, weekends and holidays brought oportunities for peace. I could no longer relax at home or enjoy tinkering with a hobby or spending time with my wife because my most productive times were evenings, weekends, and big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I had to make a change!
An opportunity came in 2016 to make an early exit from my facility's lease. After much thought, I took it. I am still editing and mixing and I still have workspace at home, on a more personal level. I am currently re-learning how to relax. Perhaps with time I can learn how to enjoy weekends and holidays again.