I came across the article Guidelines for Going Self-Employed on a blog this morning, and it feels like they are leaving something out. Sure there are disadvantages to being self-employed, but they are not as bad as the article makes it seem. Here’s the reality of self-employment from my own perspective:
A guaranteed paycheck is just not guaranteed anymore. I started out my working life in the days of the dot-bombs in Silicon Valley, and I was out of a job every 4 months or so. Today’s economic environment is equally volatile, but it is more widespread across all industries. The problem with working for someone else right now is that you are relying on their decisions at a time when only the fittest are surviving. Is it really “job security” if you are relying on someone above you to make the decisions that are best for you and your family?
I also think it is a myth that you need several years to turn a profit. If you are a smart entrepreneur, bootstrapping your own business, you can turn a profit right away. I made a profit my first month in business because my business model has very low overhead, and I kept my investments smart. There are ways of testing the water and earning income without having to dump large amounts of money into a business that you won’t get back for several years.
Benefits for group plan insurance are no longer cheap, nor fully paid for in most companies, so a “regular job” is not a guarantee of benefits. Small businesses also have new offerings in insurance because insurance companies finally got smart and pooled smaller businesses together to look like one large group plan. To get around this problem entirely, just get married to someone with a regular 9 to 5. It has worked well for me for about 7 years now. If you plan to be in the same business, start thrifty by getting life insurance quotes from different agencies.
The article makes it seem like taking a vacation is impossible, but I don’t think that is true at all. I manage to go on daytrips and longer vacations with my family throughout the year, and I’m the only employee in my business. In fact, I don’t know one self-employed person that doesn’t go on vacations. Being self-employed makes vacations easy because I don’t have to ask for time off in advance or get permission to take a trip from anyone. If you are self-employed and finding you can’t take a vacation, try some of these strategies:
- Find another you.
I’ve made a lot of friends in the business over the years, so I have someone I can call if I need some help with a client while I am gone.
- Take mini-vacations.
Instead of spending a month away from home, break it up into several trips throughout the year.
- Go wireless.
Handheld devices are getting smaller and more powerful, and WIFI networks are widely available. With tablet PCs, smartphones, iPads, laptops, and other wireless devices, there’s no reason why you can’t check in with work from the road or respond to an emergency if you need to.
Freedom of Schedule
I can’t really just take off half a day whenever I want, as the author made it seem, but I do have the option of picking my kid up from school, taking a park day, and doing most of my work from 9 am to 1 pm and 9 pm to 1 am. That flexibility is what made me decide to work for myself in the first place, so that I can have the family life I wanted and be there for my kids.
While working for myself is not always a walk in the park, it is really not as scary as the author made it seem. I love it and have been doing it for over six years now. It really has been the best choice for me and my family. I wouldn’t want it any other way!