Becoming an entrepreneur is much more common today than it was twenty years ago. It's much more common than it was even ten years ago. With an economy that hasn't been exactly steady, low salaries and corporate lifestyles being a thing of the past, people are freelancing or starting their own businesses at increasing rates. I am one of those people. Corporate wasn't meant for me just like it isn't meant for lots of other people and that's completely fine. There are a lot of jobs and employment opportunities between corporate and self-employed though. You can work in-house, non-profit, for small businesses. There are plenty of options but for me, self-employment was it. However, I'm now learning (several months later) the hardships of being your own boss.
Before getting into the nitty gritty of actually being self-employed, let's talk about qualities you need in order to be your own boss. The job has its perks, I won't deny it, but it's not as easy as everyone (even me) assumes. Most resources say that to be self-employed you have to be a go-getter, great networker, positive, hard working and adaptable and have self-discipline and vision. From my personal experience, I agree. But I can also say that sometimes it's hard to embody every single one of those qualities. So as with anything in life, I honestly feel having a good balance of each of them regularly is key. You're not always going to be positive about the work you're doing. You will scream and you will put your head in your hands wondering, why did I think I could make this work. But then the next day you'll accomplish something that seemed impossible, your client will love it and you'll forget about the messy bits. Great networking is also key. It's one of the most important things you need to succeed at if you are going to be your own boss, in my opinion. Self-discipline is equally important. If you can't keep yourself in line, if you're not a self-starter and if you cannot manage your responsibilities, you have no business being self-employed. If you need to be managed in order to be productive, chances are you won't make it when you need to handle things yourself. There's no one to hold you accountable but yourself.
Being self-employed seems like the dream. I can't tell you how many times I've had people say to me, "It must be nice being able to wake up whenever you want." "How stressed can you be? You work at home." "Why are you tired? You don't have to be in the office at 9am every morning." News Flash! Studies show that people who are self-employed and/or work from home work longer hours than people in regular 9-5 jobs. I will admit, I'm not a morning person so I'm not up working at 6am but I am at my desk between 8am and 9am every. single. morning. However, I work well into the evening, sometimes till 1am. I know several people who are self-employed and do the same. In fact, I don't know any people who work for themselves and work at a limited amount of hours. So if you have a friend that is their own boss, do not ever ask them why they're so tired. Do not ever question their stress levels. That's a sure way to encourage a freak out. Another misconception: "You seriously don't know what it's like to have people constantly demanding stuff of you." HA! Just because someone is self-employed does not mean they aren't answering to other people. We have clients just like you and they need things, sometimes last-minute, within the hour and yesterday. The difference? Unlike people who work in companies, there are no "underlings" to pass the work down to when things are crazy. We do it ourselves. In other words, making the impossible happen is a daily feat.
I'm not trying to put those who are self-employed on a pedestal because every job, no matter where the job is, has it's ups, downs, challenges and successes. However being self-employed takes, as TheSelfEmployed.com puts it, tenacity. I truly believe that comes with passion. Whereas my friend in corporate America might hate her job so everything seems like the end of the world, I love my job. So every challenge is just another opportunity for me to succeed and show what I'm made of. It's all about state of mind. It's not can you do it because you CAN. It's about do you want to do it. Do you care about the work you're doing? Does it mean something to you? That's why I left to become self-employed. My work had lost it's meaning and I was sick of doing something I hated. I wanted to feel passion again. The people who feel rewarded from their work are the ones who are living the dream. The fact is that it's going to take a lot of work to get there. Are you willing to get that work done?
Come back on Wednesday for part 2! We're moving on from whether you should be self-employed to what you need to expect once you are. Hello, taxes, goodbye, sanity...
I did some research on how to tell if you're ready to be self-employed and if you're cut out for being your own boss. Forbes and Entrepreneur are great resources for those in small business but there are plenty of other resources out there. Here are some of my personal favorite reads:
7 Signs You're Ready To Be Your Own Boss - Inc. 10 Pitfalls of Being Your Own Boss - Entrepreneur The 4 Ways To Become Your Own Boss. Which One Fits You? - Forbes Why You Should Be Your Own Boss: 10 Reasons You Should Work For Yourself - Elite Daily The Ugly Truth About Being Your Own Boss - Huffington Post 5 Traits Of A Successful Entrepreneur - The Self-Employed