I’m self-employed. One might think that means that I’m my own boss, but it doesn’t really work like that. I don’t have a boss. I have dozens; only I call them customers. Now, these great folks aren’t technically my boss, but they influence our priorities and my schedule more than anyone else.

In general it’s not bad, but the catch is that they all have different priorities. With each, the needs are legitimate. The requests are reasonable, but they only have their own context within which to judge us. Add a feature that helps dozens of other customers? Doesn’t matter. They need their request addressed yesterday.

Now, I’m not complaining. It’s a great problem to have. Lots of customers providing lots of feedback? That’s awesome. However, it redefines the phrases “being pulled in too many directions” and “being stretched thin”. If you think it’s tough to find uninterrupted time to write code with one boss checking in on you constantly, try dozens. Now imagine them all with competing, often conflicting priorities. Oh, and they all rely on your product day-in and day-out.

For better and worse, the alternative to having a boss isn’t not having a boss, it’s having many bosses. It’s not a bad thing, but it does create a new set of challenges.