6 Reasons to Become Self-Employed

By Kate Luther on 31 January 2008 (Updated 28 May 2010) 19 comments
Photo: Stock.Xchng

At some point in their lives, everyone has dreamed about starting their own business. Whether it's selling cosmetics and beauty products, marketing your own personal invention or selling drop-ship items through eBay, there's just something really sexy about the idea of being your own boss.

And you know what? You're right. There are indeed many reasons that you should consider joining the ever-growing forces of the self-employed. Here's what I think are the top six.

No More Rush-Hour

Do you realize how much time is wasted sitting in traffic? Not to mention the stress and anxiety you endure when traffic doesn't move the way it should. Rush-hour is just bad, no matter how you look at it. It doesn't matter if you use that time to reflect on your day, chit-chat on your cell or learn to speak French with your audio course - it's still something that I'm betting we can all do without. No more rush-hour means you won't be wasting gas. No more rush-hour also means you don't have to worry about driving on icy bridges, sliding on slick roads, or navigating in the middle of a "can't see 5 feet in front of me" downpour.

No More Pantyhose

Or stifling ties, business suits, or uncomfortable shoes. In fact, no more dress code at all. Unless of course, you're opening a business where you actually meet your clients face-to-face but even then, you still have a little leeway in choosing what to wear.

No More Security Blanket

That's right...become self-employed and you'll no longer have the luxury of a fixed income every month. But was that security blanket really all that secure? A corporation can lay you off without warning -- maybe you'll get a severance package and maybe you won't. But while you're laying awake at night wondering what on Earth you're going to do, they'll all be sleeping nicely. Doesn't seem fair does it?

No More Meetings

Okay, yes..you might still meet with clients but what you won't do is attend meetings to plan a meeting about an upcoming meeting. No, that's not a typo. For all their innovation and manpower, big businesses have a lot of red tape. You can't just order something when you need it -- you have to first fill out the proper form and get the proper signatures. If a problem arises, chances are you can't just fix it -- it has to go through the necessary channels. And there's a good reason for that. With a staff in the thousands, you'd be crazy to just give every employee the "pen" and allow them to do things as they please. But you don't have a staff in the thousands. You have a staff of one. You. And if you want to make an executive decision, there's absolutely no one to say that you can't.

No More Vacation Days

Do you want to take a day off and go to the beach? Wish you could go eat lunch with your first grader? Now you can! Being self-employed may initially mean you work a little harder or a little longer but it also means that you have the flexibility to do what you need when you need to do it. As a freelance writer, I can adjust my days to meet the needs of my family. Sometimes, that means I'm up writing late at night when everyone else is sleeping but hey...I'm a night-person by nature and I don't have an alarm clock that's going to start chiming at some ridiculously early hour. So, if I need to pick my kids up from school, I can. If there's a soccer practice or a band performance or even if I just feel like sleeping in until 10am, I can. And as a self-employed person, so can you.

No More Raises

Perhaps the biggest reason to join the ranks of the self-employed is the pure potential for earning your worth. Yes, you might put in some long hours to do so, but working for yourself puts you in the financial driver's seat. No more raises, no more bonuses and no more steady paychecks but you have the opportunity to actually earn what you want. Why? Because as an entrepreneur, you decide the value of your work - not an employer.

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Guest's picture

All of these things are very true. Although I haven't had to deal with some of these. I am only 24 with a little college.

Money is everywhere, you just have to reach out and grab some.

Guest's picture
Trisha

I'll give you a little glimpse into what it's like to be self-employed. Results may vary.

About four months ago, I moved to a new state. Since being here, I've only gotten gas for my car twice, and each time, I didn't fill it up all the way.

That sure cuts down on expenses.

Guest's picture
Wesley

I'd have to agree. I've been on my own for about a year and a half, and it's going great so far. It was scary in the beginning, but I have to agree with the other readers...the money's out there, and given the time to find it, it's accessible.

Thanks for the post, I enjoyed it!

Guest's picture

I really like the idea of having more control over my earnings potential. With raises coming once a year at my FT job, it seems like a long time to be rewarded for something you did early in the year. I think one of the best things employers could do is implement a quarterly or twice-a-year merit increase for their employees. It would provide much quicker feedback for a job well done.

Kate Luther's picture

Glad everyone's enjoying this one.  I worked full-time for someone else for as long as I can remember until one year ago this March. It was scary and sometimes its crazy, but I've never looked back. And like Trisha, just not having to fill up my car all the time has made a huge difference in expenses. If you've got an idea, go for it! :)

Guest's picture
Neal

I've been blessed to have run my own software consulting practice for over 20 years now. I've been able to support my family and also save a good bit for retirement.

The article certainly mentions the good reasons for being self-employed, and I certainly would second those.

It does take work however to make it go. Often lots of it. I took little vacation at first, because there was too much to do. There were peaks and valleys of work, tons of it and then none. Managing both can be challenging.

Without getting too long-winded, for me, it's job security. It's all the things above as well as a good income. But it has to be a good fit to a person's skill set and personality. It's not for everyone.

Guest's picture

You articulated a powerful argument to take the leap of faith with an evocative image of a good day and vivid examples.
While security remains somewhat of a myth, facing the reality that you don't know what will actually happen each day as you open your eyes can still provoke acute unease. Will I sell 50 books today? Will I see an accident? Will a client make me smile and laugh? What will I learn in the next 16 hours? What will my life be like in 16 days? What about 16 months - or 16 years?
Acting as if I have faith in my abilities, the nation's future, and the world's decency certainly generates more options - and deeper obligations to my self and my family.
Better get started on that business plan!!!

Guest's picture
Barbara

do you get some of these advantages you've listed. I worked from my apartment when I first started, but still had to travel to meet clients and dress accordingly.

Then I really started to realize the power that having an office can have for your reputation and professional image. So now I rent a space with some other people, but have to travel (only a little distance though) and dress professionally. And to be honest, I like being around people. It keeps the day from being dull, it makes me work a little harder (so that I dont look like I"m slacking) and getting my face out there reminds people I'm in business for myself so they remember me when they meet someone else who needs a graphic designer.

Like all of the other commentors above, I totally agree that the money is what you make of it. Yes, being self-employed means working double because you're not only doing the creative work but the sales, marketing, accounting, etc.

Myscha Theriault's picture

I like all the items you mentioned, but my two favorites are skipping the commute and setting my own schedule.

Guest's picture
Bayne

I've been self-employed for about 5 months now. I love being able to pick up my kids from school, work all night if I want to and (of course) WORK IN MY BATHROBE!!!

Guest's picture

It sounds like heaven right about now, esp with the commuting bit.. *groan*

Guest's picture
Angie

Alas, no more help with health insurance. I wouldn't have it any other way, though. It's worth it, as long as you're basically healthy. Maybe it will be better with the next pres.

Guest's picture
jim

I recently joined the ranks of the unemployed (my last day is the 27th of this month) and one thing I'm not looking forward to is working from home all the time. While I'll try to mitigate this by going to the library, volunteering, etc. I think that is always one of the biggest challenges with self-employment.

I do like being able to tell people I get 52 weeks of vacation. :)

Guest's picture
Christina

hi all,

I live in France and I have to say being a freelance here is quite a challenge...
I don't know if some of you are aware of this but a french employee has a big part of his or her salary going to the State in order to finance his or her retirement and social security.

Being self-employed means putting money aside yourself and for French people, that's scary!

Anyway, good luck all of you, I think being a freelance is really cool and I hope I'll be able to become one myself in the future, after my studies.

Bye for now

Guest's picture
Christina

hi all,

I live in France and I have to say being a freelance here is quite a challenge...
I don't know if some of you are aware of this but a french employee has a big part of his or her salary going to the State in order to finance his or her retirement and social security.

Being self-employed means putting money aside yourself and for French people, that's scary!

Anyway, good luck all of you, I think being a freelance is really cool and I hope I'll be able to become one myself in the future, after my studies.

Bye for now

Guest's picture
Guest

I'm so glad i came across this page. I am at work right now, sitting in a cubicle and fantasizing about being self employed. I'm 36 and i've worked in corporate America for years and most recently a non-profit, but it's all the same office politics B.S. I have an idea for a business. I know that after this job i can't bear to go work for anyone else. I believe my idea will work but i am scared to death to take the leap. Ok, maybe not scared to death. I think a part of me just can't imagine that i could actually work from home and make a living and be happy for once in my working life! Thousands, if not, millions of Americans do it. I sure do intend to try and join the ranks. Reading your posts is very motivating. I've never been paid what i believe i am worth, but more important than money, i want my freedom.

Guest's picture
Guest

There is nothing that can beat working in your PJ's!
I've worked in France on a freelance contract and a way round having to put money aside for cotisations is to work freelance but PAYE then you don't get any unexpected bills or have to pay charges if you don't earn anything. I worked through the portage at www.freelanceinfrance.com to do that, it was far less scary.
The only problem with France is that broadband is still ropey in some places!

Guest's picture
JJ

I think you confuse "self employment" with both being freelance or working from home and with "working for a major corporation".

I grew up in a small business family, both of my parents were "self employed"... and very successful at it. This has meant taking calls on Christmas, dressing well enough to attract decent clients, managing overhead expenses (advertising, community involvement, office space/supplies, employee salaries - even just an assistant), and MORE meetings than when they were just employees - meetings with their accountant, lawyers, rainmaker meetings, etc. I was a latchkey kid forever, or at least when I wasn't co-opted into working for them.

For them, the benefits are: (1) as you said, earning your worth, (2) being able to implement their ideas and have creative control over the business with tangible results, (3) personal satisfaction and pride - they don't punch a clock, they come to work to achieve.

Guest's picture
Patrick

Self employment looks like an incredible way to live your life. I want to start my career and/or reputation before i graduate from high school. Is freelance writing a practical way of supporting myself through college? I guess at some point in my early years as an independent adult it would be a practical venture as I would have enough time to do my research on financial and business strategies. Although I am confident in my capacity to contribute to a corporation through opportunistic and innovative mediums, I absolutely love the prospect of small business, where I could contribute my ideas in a more efficient manner. The only problem I have with confidence in an early career is that while I love science and the opportunity to challenge my fluid intelligence capacity, I am very weak in advanced math so the only thing I have to offer at the moment is creative content. Should i consider contributing fiction to any websites now to promote my writing skills and gain a head start on my career, or just focus on learning a certain field and working my way up through the corporate ladder for a few careers? Either way, I have plans for any number of scenarios involving anything from completing 4-year college and saving up a boatload of money through fiction before attending graduate school, to attracting talent by either joining or establishing a business that deals with different forms of media and using fiction to promote the business, to putting all my faith into my writing and expand my ventures by going to film school and converting my stories into movies. I want to be able to look ahead and prospect, find opportunities to expand and innovate, or at least enjoy the ride. So the question remains: In this job market, am I CRAZY?

I would really appreciate any insight and advice. I am working on a book series and hope I can get the first one published before I graduate from high school. Thanks!