Why would someone want to work for themselves? Why give up a steady paycheck, health care benefits, and 2 weeks of paid vacation to take on the hassles of figuring out how to start a business? Dealing with your local bureaucracy, deciding how to market your product or service, and accounting for your revenues and expenses can all be a big headache.
It can be a PITA to pay your own payroll, SS and Medicare taxes, and it can be frightening to know that you alone are responsible for your paycheck... the size of which can vary from week to week, or season to season. Add to that the fact that new businesses may not provide a living wage or break even on their investment for one or two years... if ever.
Ah! But the rewards.....
1. You answer to yourself.
A primary reason to quit the job for many self-employed folk. It's not just about escaping bad bosses. When you work for yourself, you get to choose where you work, when you work, and what you do. You can choose the color of the walls, the location of the office, the style of your website. Everything!
You can make decisions in line with your values. You don't have to deal with clients you don't like. And no boss can tell you what to do.
2. You can choose to make a difference.
When you work for someone else, you are limited by your job description. Policies and procedures, rules, bureaucracy, and hierarchy all dictate your actions. You do what your job is, whether or not you agree with the meaning of your acts, the goals of your employer; whether or not you believe in what you are doing. That is, if you want to get paid.
When you work for yourself, you can choose to spend your time doing something meaningful. You can choose a healing profession. You can choose to start a business selling sustainability products. You can choose to set up a business manufacturing Sun Ovens. You can start a non-profit helping children, working to stop sprawl, community gardens, a food co-op. You can offer to start gardens for the elderly or disabled. Dream it, do it. Align your life with your values.
3. You have flexibility.
Flexibility in choosing your working hours is extremely important for some people, including stay at home mothers or those who have disabilities or illnesses. You decide when to work, how many clients to take on, and your schedule. If you suffer from insomnia, you can take naps during the day. If you have a small child, you can work part-time. You can go to the doctor when you need to. You can take off 12 weeks if you want to take a dream vacation, or for maternity leave, or for chemotherapy treatments. You can take all the time you want to prepare for peak oil. You can take off half a day to take your son and daughter to a baseball game.
Now, working for yourself is also very demanding, and can be seasonal. At those times you will not have flexibility. But still, you will be able to make the call.
4. You get the credit, and the profits.
When you are self-employed, you decide your rates and prices. You get to keep 100% of your profits after expenses and taxes. It's also nice having clients who have a relationship with you, are loyal to you, not your employer.
5. You can avoid traffic.
You can choose to work from home, or choose an office close enough to bike to, or go to work outside of rush-hour times. Bonus: save time, reduce carbon emissions, and possibly even get rid of your car. Personally, I have a home office (which is also a tax deduction at the end of the year).
6. You can control your environment.
You can set up your office environment to be as comfortable and as aesthetically pleasing as you'd like. You can choose what to wear - whether it's pajamas, scrubs, or business casual clothes. Many people these days have chemical or environmental sensitivities, and since you have control over your office, you can eliminate these potential hazards.
You can also make your office as environmentally friendly as you'd like. You can use CFL bulbs, insist on recycling and composting, buy green products, use only non-toxic cleaning products, and fill your space with houseplants. If you employ other people, you can be a trendsetter in environmental office space.
My experience with self-employment
When I first started my private practice, it was tough to take the massive pay cut. I also lost my benefits, so I now rely on my husband to provide health care insurance. Note: It's much easier to work for yourself if you have a partner who is providing traditional benefits like health care, and whose paycheck you can rely on to pay the bills every month.
In the beginning, there were plenty of start up costs, and lots of marketing to do. When you work for yourself, you need at least 3 skill sets: the skills of your profession, business skills, and marketing skills. For example, I had to figure out how to get licensed, what rate to charge, how to register my business name with the state, obtain liability insurance, design a website, and set up my accounting books. Then, I had to wait for clients to call, and encourage them to re-schedule. Nerve-wracking!
That was 2 years ago, and it did take a full two years to build up my business to provide a living wage. It seemed like an uphill battle. I had to have faith in myself and keep marketing, marketing, marketing, even when it seemed as if marketing was not working. I had major doubts in my mind throughout that first year, including the viability of my business in this location, my self-esteem, and how long my husband would put up with my sad income.
Now, I have a steady clientele, and I'm glad I choose self-employment since I do have so much flexibility and control. It really comes in handy with a baby/toddler.
Are there any other self-employed folks out there? How do you like it?