7 Reasons to be Self-Employed

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There are at least 7 reasons to be self-employed, and there’s probably never been a better time than now. I know that sounds downright loony to some, but it’s the reality of our time. On the plus side, the internet has opened up opportunities for small business ventures because it provides incredible leverage and it can make the little guy look like a big guy. On the negative side, employment has never been less certain or less satisfying, at least not in the past several decades.

Not convinced? Consider the following reasons — you can probably come up with a few more.

1. A sense of control over your future

When you’re on someone else’s payroll, you’re also beholden to them. Your employer can change your work assignments, your seating assignment, your title, your pay, or even eliminate your job. In any of these instances, you may have little or no say in the decision making process — especially if you’re about to be fired or laid off.

Being self-employed gives you a strong measure of control over all of that. Many people are willing to make less money to be self-employed precisely because it provides a greater sense of control over their careers, and by extension, their lives.

2. Unlike a job, self-employment isn’t “either/or”

7 Reasons to be Self-Employed
7 Reasons to be Self-Employed

Jobs are very much either/or arrangements; either you have a job and all is well, or you have no job and desperation is a constant traveling companion. In most instances, self-employment doesn’t put you in that position, especially if you have income streams coming from different sources.

In the worst of times you’ll probably have an income, even if a reduced one. What’s more, self-employment can give you the flexibility to pursue other income sources as needed. With jobs, you often don’t have the time, and some jobs even restrict your ability to earn money apart from your job.

3. The self-employed mindset

Back when I was in the mortgage business, an attorney I did a lot of business with made an astute comment over lunch one day. We were complaining about how clients often asked us to perform extra services without additional compensation, and he said “People who are in salaried jobs don’t understand; they get paid no matter what. We only eat what we can kill.”

If you’re a salaried person that comment might sound harsh, but if you are or ever have been self-employed you know exactly what he meant. The last sentence is an obvious reference to predatory animals and while graphically extreme, it serves to highlight the vastly different mindsets between people on salaries and those who are either self-employed or on commission. When you’re self-employed, there’s nothing “automatic” about your income — you have to earn it everyday.

On the surface, that sounds like an obstacle and I suppose it is. But once you grasp the concept that your paycheck is somewhere “out there” — in the community, on the web, on the phone or where ever the client base happens to be — and you learn that getting it is actually doable, then the whole process becomes liberating!

Once you learn how to make this happen, and that it can be repeated, you’ve crossed the line into self-employment. You begin to realize that anything is possible and you see opportunity all around you. There’s no security — but there are no limits either. That’s the self-employed mindset; you’re no longer looking for a job — you’re seeking opportunities. That’s a mindset that can be learned only by doing it, and once you have, it changes everything.

4. A built-in retirement income stream

A lot of people fret over having enough money to retire comfortably, but here’s the reality for most people: you’ll never have enough money, so get over it! The rising cost of living will just about guarantee that the vast majority of people — outside the richest 5-10% of the population — will ever be able to enjoy a full retirement with no financial worries.

The best remedy to that problem is to have a business of your own, one you can work at for as long as you live, with no threat of being “put out to pasture” — as is the case with jobs. If you’re self-employed, you won’t ever need to retire from it and it can provide for you for many years past traditional retirement age.

5. Self-employment opens the potential for unlimited income

Ever wonder why you reach an income ceiling on a job? It’s not your imagination — most jobs are “static” (I read that in a how-to-get-a-job book by an HR guy). An employer — any employer — will only pay so much for a given job, even if you’re doing the best work possible. Worse, once you reach the top earnings threshold, you’re trapped in the job because a move to another employer may mean a decrease in pay.

When you’re self-employed, you can earn as much as your time, talent, and effort will allow. In theory at least, there is no limit as long as you continue to grow and expand your business and your abilities.

6. You don’t have to quit your day job

One of the great aspects about being self-employed is that you don’t need to quit your job to do it. As we discussed above, self-employment isn’t either/or, and often involves the pursuit of multiple income streams.

You can start and build your business as a side venture until you’re ready to go full time. Maybe you never go full time, but you’ll have it as a second income and as a place to do the things you never could on your full time job. Sometimes having a side business makes your full time job more tolerable because it gives you what your job can’t.

7. Advance preparation for a job loss

This reason almost makes a necessity of being self-employed. This isn’t your grand-father’s economy — it isn’t even your father’s economy. The rules have changed and are still evolving. The years since 2000 have been very unstable and the future doesn’t look any better if “stable” is your definition of normal times.

Every one of us needs to have a plan (or better yet, plans) for a job that won’t be there in the future. Just because you kept your job through the last recession doesn’t mean you’ll have it until you retire. No job is safe any more, and the worst part is that if you do lose your job it will probably come at a time when thousands of people in the same line of work are losing theirs. That means there will be long lines of candidates applying for any job available.

Being self-employed, you can (and should) develop multiple income streams that will provide you with at least some income, plus the ability to find new ones. You can even take a part time job to help in a pinch.

There are businesses and industries that grow even in recessions. I’m doing freelance blog writing, and that business has actually grown substantially during the recession. There are opportunities for growth all around and being self-employed can help you find them. If you’re doing it right — meaning you’re always searching out opportunity rather than a job — you have a good chance of surviving and even thriving, what ever happens in the economy.

If you’d like to start a business of your own, but don’t know which to go into, check out my post, The Freelance Blog Writer Side Hustle. Blog writing is a chance to try your hand at being self-employed and to grow your business – risk free. Even if you’ve never written professionally in the past, this post can get you started.

( Photo from Flickr by vindictiveimmunity )

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13 Responses to 7 Reasons to be Self-Employed

  1. Kevin:

    You may have already shared this info, but I have been meaning to ask you.

    What type of work do you do beside the blogging?

    And I notice “archive” on your latest articles – please explain.

    Thanks,

    My website: Surviving Unemployment!
    http://survivingunemployment.weebly.com

  2. Hi Angela–My background is a mix of public accounting and mortgages (both underwriting and sales). More recently I’ve been doing contract work in accounting and some other areas, and working on this website and my freelance blog writing in between assignments.

    Of late, the revenue from the site and from writing have reached the point where I’m daring to think of making a full time push out of it. I’m toying with getting a side job to go with it for a while.

    I don’t think a person needs to plunge into self-employment. You can do it as a side business while you’re working full time, then as the business grows you can work at it full time with a part time job until you’re ready to ditch the jobs entirely and go full tilt at the business. It’s a low risk way to do it.

    What do you mean by “archive” on my latest article–I’m not seeing it.

  3. Hi Kevin:

    I just looked and it is at the top of your page that contains all of the blogs for 2011. No big deal, I was just asking 🙂

    What about taxes?
    I have heard they are paid by the self employed every quarter?

    Thanks, Angela

    My website: Surviving Unemployment!
    http://survivingunemployment.weebly.com

  4. Hi Angela–Uggghhhh-TAXES! Yes, when you’re self-employed you do have to make quarterly tax payments. The silver lining is that you have to pay taxes no matter what kind of income source you have, it’s just that when you work for someone else you don’t have to be the one writing the checks to the IRS. It feels better that way, but you’re still the one paying the tax through a reduced paycheck.

  5. Hey Kevin:

    With regards to your blog, I am being challenged on what to blog about?

    I am now an EXPERT on surviving unemployment since being laid off since 2008 and turning 53 this September.

    Do you think I have an “income” potential from this?

    I guess one needs to find what one knows about and what would be of interest to others(lol). How did you figure this out for yourself? Reason for asking: LOVE visiting your site when I can and it ALWAYS has variety for your section. Never a dull moment = you seem to have several “expertise” – awesome…

    Angela J. Shirley
    My Website: Surviving Unemployment!
    http://survivingunemployment.weebly.com

  6. Hi Angela–Two things here…first, what is it that you feel most passionate about? What ever it is you’re passionate about is where you’ll excel at writing because you’ll write from the heart. Second is experience–what is it you’ve done in your life? This can be career experience, but it can also be personal. You’re a mother–you can write about that. You’ve been in relationships–you might write about that. Find sites that have those as topics, see what others do, and see how you can fit into the mix.

    You’re developing an incredible story with your “journey” through extended unemployment. Being over 50 gives you a unique perspective because the 50+ crowd is having a tougher time on the job front then ever. Keep a diary of your experiences, including what you feel, what you observe. That can be a source of topics. You wrote a comment a couple of weeks back about using the library computer to save money on a home computer connection–that’s a post right there! Somebody somewhere can benefit from that kind of advice–someone who’d never think to do what you did.

    You’ve guest posted on my site with your unemployment story–my suggestion is that you guest post on some others. Build a writers portfolio, then begin to approach various sites about paid work. Maybe one or two will come to you in the meantime!

    As for me, I’ve worked in mortgages and accounting, as you know, so personal finance subjects are a natural for me. But if you peruse my site you’ll see a few other things as well though they’re only scattershot. I like to write about the deeper issues of faith (Christianity), but I probably need to find a site to do that on. I’ve recently written a couple of posts on politics/economics–another favorite of mine–but I did it on another site that specializes in it. Not all of it is for pay, somethings I just like to write about.

  7. Self-employment is amazing, but it’s not for everyone. Note the first three reasons listed above, which to me are the strongest reasons, are not very important to some people. In fact, some people would see those as reasons not to be self-employed. But if your character/personality craves those things, self-employment is the only way to go.

  8. Hi David – I agree, it’s not for everyone. But with the slow deterioration of the job market in the past decade-plus (more so in the US than Canada), a lot of people may be forced into self-employment. It may be a matter of embracing necessity as a virtue.

    I know a lot of men in their 40s and 50s who have had to become self-employed as a way of making a living. Middle aged men in particular are being shut out of the job market.

  9. Great points, Kevin. Always appreciate your content. I’m always at least encouraging people to look for ways to create streams of income instead of just trading hours for dollars. There are a lot of ways to make money these days if you have an open mind and are willing to try something different.

  10. I completely agree David. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by self-employment. The hardest part is getting into it, but once you do it gets easier. Though I do need to work on creating passive income streams. That just gives me another target to shoot for!

  11. Excellent post. I particularly like No 6: You Don’t Have To Quit Your Day Job. You really don’t have to give up the 9 to 5 to build a second income stream, or a third and forth. And these side-projects have a way of turning into full-on full-time work if you play your cards right.

  12. We’re self-employed and love it, though will say it’s not for everyone. At the end of the day, #5 is what pushed us to do it – not to mention the fact that we can work on what we want. This makes dealing with things like taxes a little better. 🙂

  13. Hi John – The freedom of choice that self-employment brings is a big one for me. There are too many assignments on jobs that just seem arbitrary more than productive. But when you’re self employed you have to work primarily on what’s productive. It’s not a magic carpet ride by any means, but it’s a better way to work for me.

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