On Becoming Self-Employed – Part 1

Being self-employed is a very interesting experience. Some people claim that they want to be the masters of their own fate and choose self-employment (as small business or a self-directed professional career) as their way to make it happen. And often, when people write about the joys of self-employment, they talk a lot about “freedom.”

There’s the freedom from nine-to-five. Except, of course, for the fact that your clients all keep to a schedule and you need to make yours fit theirs. So while you may no longer need to punch a time-clock, you’re still going to have to make things work around a schedule of some sort.

There’s the freedom from having a boss. Except, of course, for the fact that every single client you have is your boss, and if you don’t do what they want when they want, they’ll fire you and that means no money.

There’s the freedom from the daily grind. Except, of course, for all the details of being self-employed and running a small business, which comes with enough grunt work to choke a horse.

That’s not to say you can’t have some of those things at some times. Sure, you can be free of nine-to-five when there’s nothing much going on. While an “employee” has to keep showing up even when there’s not much to do, you can go to the beach, do the groceries or hang out the laundry. And while an “employee” tends to be at the whim of The Boss, if you really don’t like a client, you can find another one so you don’t have to work for the ass again. As for the daily grind, well, some things are inevitable. But if you’re doing enough stuff you love, you can convince yourself its worth it.

Being your own boss can be scary. And it does carry some risks. If it starts of slow – or doesn’t work at all — there’s no safety net unless you’ve built up a whopping stash of cash to see you through. You could end up racking up debt if you don’t have a sound plan in place. And you may have to work 80 or 90 or 100 hours a week to get the sucker going. So anyone afraid of hard work should reconsider.

You also need to accept that you will make mistakes and that you have to learn from them. You must be willing, too, to try new things.

Not everyone has the personality, drive and determination to be self-employed. And not everyone can handle the solitude that comes from working alone, which is often a big part of being your own boss. Some people believe that those who make it work are born with an “entrepreneurial spirit” that regular employees just don’t have. I don’t know if I agree, but I know there are some people who just can’t deal with being chief cook and bottle washer. Be it a lack of discipline or the inability to cope with the stress of not having a regular paycheque, some folks just can’t cut it.

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