People who state that they want to be self-employed are almost as numerous as people who say they want to be in a management position. (The words “self-employed” evoke visions of flexible scheduling – time off during those first balmy spring days!) But having a management position, while possibly rewarding, does not involve as much potential for risk and achievement as self-employment. Being self-employed means that you get out of your work what you put into it – a lot or a little. No-one else is shouldering the risks involved or solving the problems that do arise in business. Typically, great effort is involved, with either no reward or great reward resulting. It is what you, personally, have accomplished.
When I first obtained my real estate license, I was told that we could achieve a lot – the sky was the limit. We were told about the financial benefits of working in this field, the properties that we could eventually own if we desired, the hours that we could select to work. This was all true, because as real estate agents we were basically self-employed, even though our licenses were held by a broker. What we didn’t realize until later was that we also did not have any type of safety net, that the business we had would be the business that we ourselves generated. If we slowed down or stopped our efforts to develop business, our income would reflect it accordingly.
So it should, just about everyone would say. But if you pause and reflect how many minutes a day you “cruise” in your job, do you think that you are actually productive forty hours a week? Would every minute of the time you are at your desk be time worth your boss paying for, or would you have to somewhat sheepishly admit that there was a certain amount of dead time in your schedule when you were not productive? When self-employed, all of your down-time would be very apparent – and you would not have any financial reward (a paycheck) to show for that time later on.
With self-employment, one assumes a certain amount of risk. If one is in a field of work that has slowed down drastically, you either have to bite the bullet during the slow time or switch to another way of generating income for yourself. There is no paternal company who may try to find you work to tide you over.
When tough decisions need to be made, guess who’ll have to make them? You, of course. If the decisions aren’t made in a timely manner, they will be made for you, by omission. That is, life will go on, with you or without you. (A man once told me that in business “you’re either the hammer or the nail.” I’ve always remembered that. Hopefully it doesn’t indicate a particular character trait in me!)
Thus far, all I have written about self-employment is pretty much gloomy, except for the words “financial reward.” This is one of the biggest reasons that people go to work for themselves. They feel that they can put forth most of the effort and thereby keep most of the profit.
I seem to have to fairly regularly call the fellow who does roofing work for me. In fact, I see him far more than I want to. If it’s not our house needing a new roof, it’s a tree falling on the garage roof.
Now, this man owns his own company. When I see him, he likes to chat about how busy he is, how many hours he puts in every day, and so on. Over a year and a half ago, when we had a serious ice storm, he told me happily that he slept for only four or five hours a day during the cleanup and repair process, he was so busy. He said that his business, even now, pretty much reflects the severity of that ice storm.
I can’t fault that man for sounding rather smug. I have seen what it takes to achieve that level of success. In the course of his work, he has to stay on top of who is doing what, and when. He has to meet his payroll whether or not he has had the cash coming in that week. He has to maintain the appropriate insurances and pay the required taxes. The list goes on and on.
But you know what? He also admits that there is no way he would go back to working for someone else. He said, during one conversation we had, that he wouldn’t even return to working for someone else for the security or for the lessening of responsibility. His business was all what he had made of it – no-one else. Failure or success, it was all his doing.
And that is the best reason of all for self-employment. Every step of the way, you’ll be able to say “I’m doing this the way I feel it should be done for the results that I look for.” Or, “I’m the one who profits off of my efforts and all of the time spent.” You will get out of it what you put into it, a little or a lot. You’ll be able to say “This is mine, and this is how I made it,” with real satisfaction. And, somehow, I’m sure you’ll be able to take off at least one balmy spring day, during the course of your career!
What do you think – are you self-employed? Would you consider self-employment?