Trying to Decide Whether to Work for Yourself?
Believe it or not, but about one in three Americans label themselves as self-employed. That includes freelancers, contractors and small business owners. Like self-employment pros and cons, it’s a good thing for many and a terribly challenging option for others.
Those numbers don’t even take into account the number of Americans who wish they could be self-employed, who dream of one day telling their bosses to bite it and others who’re working towards the goal of “living the dream.” With self-employment pros and cons on the table, do you think it may be for you? Maybe or maybe not? Let us help you decide.
What Are the Odds?
Like many small business owners, we’ve had periods of employment, as well as self-employment. We’ve experienced self-employment pros and the cons, as well as the ups and down of working to someone else’s timetables. As with most things, to make a big decision like whether to switch to the other side, we put each move through the list brigade — a list of pros and cons — and the side with the most checks wins.
At times, pros outweigh cons, and we’ve sought self-employment. And then, when we’re at the end of the rope, the con side tips the balance sheet, and we seek release from all responsibilities with regular jobs. Either way, the process works for most big life decisions — from should I end a relationship to should I quit my job: the side with 51 percent wins. 50/50 goes back to the drawing board and landslides get no further consideration.
When the Positives Win Out
Running a business, being your own boss: when it’s good, it’s really good, kind of like that perfect relationship that you can’t believe you finally found. When self-employment makes you happy and makes you money, it’s pretty darn cool.
Other pros include:
- Flexibility. Want a day off? Don’t want to do that particular job? When you’re the boss and if you can afford it, take the day off, tell that cranky client good-bye and work when it suits you. Flexibility, which also means working many 12-hour days and 7-day weeks, is one of the highlights of self-employment.
- Passion plays. You get to do the kind of work you feel like you were born to do. If the environment is your passion, if dogs give your life meaning or if crafting a cool sentence gets you off, you can do it in your own business.
- No limit to income. You’re the only limit to your income. Sure, the economy at any given time may play a role, but truly, you govern your income based on the level of work you’re willing to put into it. You set your goals, and it’s up to you to reach them.
- Dress for your success. I love to stay in my pajamas until mid-afternoon. And I can when I’m writing and editing all day. The commute is awesome too. When others are grappling with rush-hour traffic and cold-morning commutes, the self-employed can do the books, stay in the home office or just work the phones all day, depending on your business model, of course.
When It’s Bad, It’s Awful
The thing is, most of the pros can be turned upside down and made to be the bad guys. Self-employment pros and cons are just two sides to the same coin. And when those smiles turn into frowns, it’s not a happy place to be, which makes us wonder why so many people choose self-employment. Things that can turn around:
- Flexibility means working when your staff doesn’t show up. It can mean working holidays and weekends and nights and mornings and all hours if you want to get paid.
- Passion may grow old after a while. Sometimes, the thing you love most turns into your least favorite thing to do after doing it all day every day.
- Income can be so unstable that some days you don’t even have enough to buy a coffee and a bagel. Unstable income is one of the unhappiest side effects of self-employment.
- Dress for success takes on new meaning when it comes time to get out and network or attend a community function. Whoops, forgot to buy new business attire this year (or last).
Weigh Self-Employment Pros and Cons Before You Try It
Or get Mikey to try it; he likes everything. It used to be that many people went to work for “the man” just to get the bennies, but healthcare and dental insurance are not assured for the working class in America today. So that’s not always a reason to stay in a job that isn’t fun anymore. Self-employment pros and cons take on new meaning altogether when you talk about fun. Should work really be fun anyway?
And if it’s not fun, or at least satisfying, or paying you enough or giving you any reason to get out of bed in the morning, then maybe it’s time to try the route that 33 percent of your fellow Americans have gone — and start a business. You can always go back to work. The “man” is always hiring. But you may not always be in a position to give it a try. And you wouldn’t want to lie on your deathbed and wonder, what if…