People consider self-employment for a variety of very valid reasons. But before they take that incredible leap, it’s critical that they consider the advantages and disadvantages of being self employed carefully.
Recently, in our BeingYourOwnCEO Success Circle session, a group who have already made that choice agreed that being in business means that we have to learn to hustle and to sell ourselves and our products; but it can be learned.
Depending on your point of view and personal style, you will choose to focus more on one over the other. We will look at the disadvantages first simply because of the importance of being very realistic.
Disadvantage of Being Self Employed
As I sat in reflection about the realities, I considered what I would share from my own experience as a solopreneur. Here’s my list:
- There’s no one to guide your journey. Business directions are often set by someone up the company pipe in many job-jobs.
- There are no colleague sounding boards. For those of us that need to think out loud, sounding boards are critical to making good decisions.
- Need to know/learn a lot about business management. There’s an infrastructure for all companies that is often taken care of by another department so we never learned about it.
- It’s all-consuming – business never leaves your mind – It’s not a 9-5 experience. Yes, there may even be some sleepless nights when we wonder where the next customer will come from.
- It’s lonely. You no longer have that instant social network. You must go out and find people to connect with yourself.
- There’s a lot of stuff to get done. There’s never enough time so you need to become very good at setting priorities.
- Have to sell – hate selling – can’t stand the thought of rejection. This is likely the most common disadvantage because we hate being sold to, so we are negative at the mere thought. (Do you answer any of those marketing phone calls you receive on your smartphone?)
- Have to become an expert networker. We quickly learn that we need to discover alternatives to the old marketing methods. One way is to get out and meet people in the community (both online and the city). This is difficult for most of us, but more so for an introvert.
- It’s uncomfortable talking about myself. At most networking events, you are asked to give your elevator pitch. That takes time, practice and refinement.
- There’s no one else to blame. We must get used to shouldering full responsibility and accountability very quickly.
- You have to pay attention to finances. Many of us hate working with numbers, detail and linear processes. We end up doing some things we do not enjoy and not every business hat fits.
- There are never-ending challenges – just as there are never-ending changes to deal with.
- Money is tight, especially in the early days. There’s more outflow than inflow.
Of course, there are ways to handle all of this list, but it doesn’t happen overnight. One way to make the process less daunting is to acquire some help from an experienced business coach. I offer a short Affinity Consultation to help you decide if this is for you. You might also find this checklist Is Solo Enterprise For You? helpful.
Now, you might notice that some of us might see some of the above as advantages, rather than disadvantages. I completely agree, and I acknowledge there are many advantages. And it depends on the reasons for considering this option.
Reasons For Considering Self Employment
- You are about to retire from a full-time job;
- There’s been a change in culture at work and you don’t want to be part of it;
- You can’t find suitable employment (due to age discrimination)
- You are forced to stay at home (due to being a caregiver or being disabled)
- You need to generate some extra income (to cover rising costs)
- You are bored and looking for a new challenge;
- You have a passion you want to pursue.
For success in business, it’s critical that we are very clear about why we want to become a solopreneur.
Advantages of Being Self Employed
As I thought about this question for myself, I came to the conclusion there are two main reasons and many aspects connected to each. I believe it all boils down to Choice and Control.
I get to choose-
- My work schedule. I get to work when I am most productive, and when something important arises or I feel ill, I can choose to take the day off. However, I may have to compensate in some way.
- Where I will work. Working from home works for some, and not others. Sometimes when I need a break, I can even work from the coffee shop or on the beach.
- My workspace. I can design the space so that it works only for me – how much daylight, how much silence or sound, number of plants or personal items, how much privacy.
- My outfit. Sometimes it works to be comfortable, while for others it works to dress for business.
- My own rules. I get to define and enact values like honesty, authenticity, accountability.
- The right equipment. I get to fit the equipment to my work style and my potential client. I can decide that faxing is outdated and that I will go paperless.
- My clients. Let’s face it, there will be clients that I just don’t enjoy trying to help.
- My colleagues. Sometimes I may need to partner up.
I have control over-
- All the decisions
- How many clients I get to work with.
- Business direction. I can take action on a dime, and move into a new market quickly.
- Whether to move toward a new business potential.
- Whether to hire a contractor; someone that is compatible.
- The variety in my work. I don’t need to be stuck with just one type of activity.
- My profits (after tax of course) Yes, there are both fixed and variable expenses.
- How to promote my business. How many networks I need and how much time I devote to them.
- The processes that make my business effective and efficient. I decide what programs and software to use if any.
- Obligations. I get to negotiate/determine the content of all contract and agreements.
Of course, I must acknowledge that there are external forces that I don’t choose or control, but I can decide to respond rather than react. I can seek help from a business coach to think through what the options are and which is the most appropriate action to take.
Some time ago, I joined a very interesting and helpful group online called Wealthy Affiliate. This is a membership site that teaches members how to set up an online business right from square one. All new members are asked to set their financial goals for their developing business.
As I read some of the responses, my old employment counsellor hackles came up (I spent twenty years doing employment work in Canada’s north). Are they going into this work with their eyes wide open? Yes, some are. They are wise enough not to quit their day job as they learn new skills and develop their new business. But I do wonder how much research they have done about the pros and cons. Therefore. I recommend you look very carefully at these advantages and disadvantage of being self-employed and then seek out some support in your decision-making and setting realistic goals.
Monday Mindset Challenge
Look at your work situation and decide whether there some things that you want to choose and take control over. Would you add anything to my list of advantages and disadvantages? Please share your thoughts in the Comments below.
This Mindset Monday post is presented by LowellAnn Fuglsang, Business and Career Coach, especially for solopreneurs.
In my workstyle-lifestyle coaching work I love helping solopreneurs find direction, stay motivated and build systems that both support and promote their business. One support that I like to emphasize for them is the Google experience. Two great places to begin are my Weekly Being Your Own CEO Success Circle and The Portable Business Coach (a tool that will tell you where you need to put more time and energy)
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