One of the first questions people tend to ask me when they find out I’m self-employed is whether I’d ever consider going back to “traditional” employment.
I’ve been self-employed now for over a decade, and I STILL regularly have nightmares in which I inexplicably decide to go back to one of my previous office jobs. It really IS a nightmare, too, because while I’m the first to admit that self-employment isn’t for everyone, I’ve never regretted it for a moment: in fact, my only real regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Here are the five main reasons I decided to start my own business: and why you might want to try it too…
This will sound overly-dramatic, but, for me, traditional employment always felt a little bit like a prison sentence. (Calm down, I said “a little bit”…) Sure, it was a low-security prison, if anything, but my time spent in it was not my own: my time quite literally belonged to someone else, and I felt trapped in each of those office buildings, totally resenting the fact that I wasn’t allowed to leave until I was given permission. By becoming my own boss, I regained the freedom to live my life on my own terms: and that was worth far more to me than job security, or the monthly salary I used to draw.
02. A JOB YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO DO
They say that if you get a job you love, you’ll never work another day in your life. I actually DON’T subscribe to that idea: no matter how much you love your job, it IS still a job at the end of the day, and there will always be elements of it that don’t exactly set your world on fire – that’s just life. Having said that, I DO love my job – and that’s not something I ever thought would be possible. For years, I’d resigned myself to the idea that work was just something to be endured, and that I’d spend most of my life unhappy, living only for the weekends and holidays which meant an escape from the boredom. When I became self-employed, though, I found myself actually looking forward to work – and having to drag myself away from desk in the evenings and weekends. No, I don’t enjoy every single second of it, and there are some days when I’d rather be doing almost ANYTHING else at all. There are far more good days than there are bad ones, though – and that’s definitely a “WIN” as far as I’m concerned.
03. NO LIMIT TO WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE
In my last “real” job, I’d basically gone as far as I could have in the company: if I’d wanted to progress my career, or earn more, my only choices were to wait for someone higher-up the ladder to resign, and hope I got their job, or look for something else. Even if I HAD found something else, I’d have basically had to just start the whole process over again: and again, and again, and again. As the owner of my own business, however, there’s no limit to what I can do with my career: my hard work benefits me, and me alone (As opposed to all of those evenings and weekends worked without overtime, purely to make more money for the company I worked for). Of course, there are downsides as well as upsides to this, but in general, I find it really inspiring to think about the limitless possibilities out there – if I can just figure out how to achieve them!
04. CONTROL OVER YOUR WORKING ENVIRONMENT
This might sound silly to some, but I’m the kind of person who is really affected by my surroundings, and I used to find the grey, sometimes windowless offices I worked in incredibly depressing. I’d be stuck inside them from morning to night, which, in the depths of winter, meant rarely getting to see daylight. When I started my own business, I loved being able to set up my office the way I wanted it – or even being able to work from my bedroom, or outdoors, if I wanted to.
05. YOU MAKE THE ‘RULES’
Want to change the way you work – or even the direction of the company? No problem: when you’re your own boss, YOU get to call the shots, without having to run every decision past a committee, or seek someone else’s approval. That can be scary, as well as liberating, of course – but once you’re used to being your own boss, it can be hard to go back!
Any other self-employed people out there? What are your favourite things about being your own boss?
Following your blogs for so many years is one of the main reasons I seriously considered starting my own business, sooner rather than later. The route I’ve taken is completely different from blogging (developing and selling a physical product – jewellery, to be exact – rather than providing a consumable service like blogging), but a lot of the attractions remain the same.
The biggest things that frustrate me about being an employee is:
1) Being completely and entirely dependent on another person/entity for my livelihood. I only have one source of income, and have very little to no control on how much it increases by, no matter how hard I work. I can slave away for an entire year, only to receive a small bonus, or, at most, a promotion that means a change in title and a fixed increased in how much I earn. The link between how much effort I put into my job and the ultimate reward is not as closely correlated as I would like. Also, while I am forever grateful of being able to earn the money that I do, I would like to feel more independent about how I earn my money, and my salary from my job be a bonus.
2) On the days where I hate my job (it’s not the majority of the time, but happens often enough), I’ve found it to be really soul draining to know that, regardless of how I’m feeling that day about myself or about what I’m doing, I HAVE to do the tasks at hand – and it’s all for the benefit of someone else. On those days, I can feel quite low, and it’s not unusual for that to lead to periods of depression. Again, I don’t think this is because of my job per se – it can actually be quite interesting, and the people I work with are lovely -, but more of a mental issue for me. I think it’s only natural to be more motivated by things you actually have a passion for/consider important, and when I’m forced to find motivation to do something that is important for someone else, it affects me negatively.
So, yeah, you’ve inspired me to get on and take the steps to make having my own business a reality. And perhaps in the not so distant future I’ll find the courage to forego the comfort of a stable job to focus 100% on my own thing 🙂
I have been mostly self-employed for over 30 years, with 90% of my income from my own business. I love being able to take a day off when there’s a family thing happening. Now if you’re appalled that I’m not retired after more than 30 years, I can tell you that I love teaching music and hope to keep improving my teaching and playing as long as I can. So, doing what you love and doing it well are both important if you plan to make a successful and rewarding life for yourself.