Working for yourself isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. It requires effort, committment, flexibility, and tenacity. But the pay-offs just can’t be denied. Why go through all of the effort? I compiled this list as a constant reminder for myself, and perhaps some insight for those on the fence about taking the next step.
Why Being Self-Employed is Better Than Being an Employee
1. More Money
Your earnings are limited only by how hard you work. Yes, this means that you may work harder when you are self-employed, but you’ll make significantly more money than a salaried employee. And potentially have significantly less free time. On the other hand, you may also choose to work less and enjoy a better work-life balance. You set your price, and you set your work hours. Your choice.
You also typically realize more money from a similar amount of income. It varies by location, so you need to investigate the laws that apply in your area, but there can often be beneficial tax and expense implications from operating as a business.
Fewer Out of Pocket Expenses
In addition to the bigger profitable picture, small savings can also add up. This can vary a bit depending on your work, but many solorpreneurs and freelancers have fewer expenses than employees, especially if they work from home or another location of their choosing. Not having a lengthy commute means less gas and no need to pay expensive monthly parking (or less spent on public transit). Fewer meals out means more money in your pocket.
2. More Control
You are your own boss. You approve your vacation. You approve your sick days. You approve your expenses. You approve your work schedule. You choose your work location. You decide how and when you do your work.
In addition to determining your own day-to-day schedule, or not following a specific schedule if that works for you and your work, you also have the ability to take on a variety of work. You aren’t pigeon-holed into one niche that you can’t get out of. You can stretch your wings, develop new skills, send yourself on training, take on new work using your new skill set. All without begging for approvals or competing with co-workers year over year to see who gets what slice of the professional development pie. Only to realize that it doesn’t even matters in the end because after the training ends, employee so often never get chance to use their new skill set because they’re just so good at X, their employer will never let them try to do Y.
3. No Bullshit
Well that’s blunt. But it’s accurate, right? Any workplace, even the best, has a certain amount of bullshit to contend with. Co-workers mired in gossip and drama. Colleagues smiling at you while they step on your head in their quest to climb that corporate ladder as high and as fast as possible. Toxic people whose consistently negative disposition can immediately suck the oxgyen out of any room they enter. Managers and executives who push their problems down the food chain with the oh-so-helpful mentorship of “just get it done”.
And everyone competing for the same small slice of the promotion-and-bonus pie.
4. Best Work Environment
When you’re your own boss and you run your office, your work environment is dictated only by you (and your budget, of course). Mac or PC? iPhone or Android? Tablet or laptop? You can use the technology you like, set up the way you like it. The downside obviously is that while the decisions are yours, so is the execution. You need to be your own IT support and take the appropriate precautions to secure and maintain your systems. But again, the payoff is worth it.
How about a new office chair? Or maybe you’d like to try a standing desk for a while? Go for it. If you have the budget, you simply buy what you need. And expense it to your own company, of course. Aside from the tech toys, how about having the freedom to work away from those horrible cubicle farms? Priceless.
5. Ability To Be Yourself
Perhaps more so than any other reason, this is what I love about being self-employed. It’s only since I’ve been self-employed (over 12 years now!) that I truly feel that I’ve had the ability to do my best work. Not the best that I’m allowed to do; but the best that I’m able to do.
Performance reviews are like the modern day equivalent of a whip. Ok, maybe that goes a little far. But let’s face it, the aim of most performance reviews is to keep employees in their place. The organization already knows how much money is allocated for bonuses and promotions. The performance review process is simply a rationalization, on paper, of how they’ve decided to divvy up the goods. It’s top down, not bottom up. If there are 5 bonuses available for 100 people, then 5 people get rewarded. It doesn’t matter that perhaps 75 of those 100 people truly went above and beyond in their daily jobs. It doesn’t matter how dedicated or how hard 70 of those people worked, they’re staying exactly where they are. Status quo.
Is anything more discouraging than knowing that none of your efforts matter? That no matter what your commitment, dedication, late nights, weekends, none of it has value because it’s all pre-determined anyway?
When you’re self-employed, every reward is yours. Every ounce of effort that you put into your work is returned back to you in the form of customers, sales, opportunities. No effort is ever wasted.
Are you an introvert that constantly gets pressured to attend office social events and engage in silly employee ‘reindeer games’? Does your refusal to participate somehow make its way into a discussion with your boss around performance review time?
Are you an extrovert who is constantly silenced and stifled from sharing your views in group meetings? Does your propensity to speak up somehow make its way into a discussion with your boss around performance review time?
Does your organization talk a lot about maintaining its “culture”, or hiring people who are a good “fit” with its culture?
It all amounts to the same thing, and none of it involves being accepting of different personalities and perspectives. A consistent, uniform “type” of staff? Easy to manage, easy to control.
This is a very minor convenience, but an enjoyable one none the less. Whether it’s a uniform or a dress code, employees often have to spend money on clothes that they wouldn’t otherwise wear, because their organization mandates that’s how they should look. It seems like such a bizarre concept when you write it down, but it’s an accepted fact of the business world.
One of the many small pleasures of working for yourself is simply that you get to choose what to wear every day. Almost like…a grown-up.