Employees may gripe and moan about the job, the boss, and the company, but they're happy to take the pay check and they're still employees. They inhabit the fringes of a metaphorical swimming pool, where they can keep a firm hold of the rail and not venture unaided and unsupported into deeper water.
It's a safe place to be, this peripheral comfort zone, where not a lot of swimming has to be done, and they can bob along with little or no effort.
But what of the braver souls, the ones who pushed out from the side into the deer and and more uncharted career waters of self-employment? How did it change their lives, and how have they benefitted as a result? In short, what have they got from it?
There's a trade-off involved; a compromise to be stuck. The downside is that it's never wise to think that self-employment will make you a millionaire overnight, because it will not. What it will deliver is sleepless nights, worry, anxiety, and hard work; lots of all of those things.
You'll have to do things you never dreamed you could do, and take a thousand decisions about the company you'll care for as much as your own child. It will be like the effort required for climbing a steep and rock-strewn hill to be rewarded with a stunning vista visible only to those who have reached the summit.
The trick is to look beyond the climb and the rocks immediately in front of you, and fix your eyes on the prize, because the worry, the sleepless nights, and the hard work are the just part of the journey.
What you can get from self-employment
- More money, eventually. As a salaried employee, when you work weekends and evenings to accomplish extra tasks, there's no reason for your month-end payment to increase. If you're self-employed, that extra effort should be leading to an extra invoice, building a financial cushion in the event of lean times coming.
- Work with better people. Employees very often have to work with people they do not get along with – and that could be for years. The self-employed can pick and choose, forming robust all within which they can be mutual-supportive, collaborating with the best clients and suppliers.
- Ditch the office politics. The self-employed, in whatever kind of business, are immune from office politics because they know exactly what's going on all the time. There are no worries about what some management meeting is deciding about the future of your employment, because there are no such meetings!
- Understand the real state of the company. The self-employed know exactly how much money the company has in the bank, how much it's owed and how much it owes. Knowledge delivers peace of mind by eliminating worry ¬ and you can have that money management knowledge to hand all the time with a powerful expense manager app. What's more, you can be your own expense manager (assisted by a piece of software on your phone), because you'll be the one deciding the company expense management policy (within the laws of the country you're working in, of course ).
- Enjoy the flexibility. Want a sunny afternoon off to cut the grass, weed the garden, or just sit in a chair with the sun in your face and a glass in your hand? No problem. So long as no work is pressing, and no client describing your attention, you can do exactly that, and pick up the threads of work later when the sun has gone down.
- Commute? What commute? Broadband is a powerful tool, allowing 21st-century businesspeople to work from home as if they were in offices on three different continents – all at the same time! If home and work are in the same building it's a great luxury to have an hour's work under your belt (in the warm) while others are still trudging up cold, snowy streets to get to their desks, having left home 40 minutes before you got out of bed.
- Open all hours. Satisfying customers keeps the wheels of business turning. From time to time someone will need some support out of hours. If it will not take long, you can 'pop back to work' to help them out with just about zero inconvenience to your evening – and they'll love you for it. Remember the mutually-supportive relationship we mentioned earlier? You never know when you might need the favor returning.
- Dress down. Three continents? Ten time zones? Feel free to dress to suit none of them. Working alone you can wear whatever you like, whenever you like. (Although we find you work better wearing the right clothes because it 'feels' more like work, and not a day off. Being in scruffy clothing is much more acceptable than allowing others to see that you're wearing it.)
- Do what you're good at. Self-employment plays to your strengths, allowing you to do what you love, and not what you dislike because you're not too good at it. Large companies often bolt on jobs to professionals from other disciplines because it's expedient to do so. The self-employed never have to end that.
- What meal break? Take a break when you want to. Eat ice-cream from a tub with your feet in a desk drawer if you want to. It's your company; who's going to tell you that's not allowed? (Well, apart from your conscience and your upbringing, of course).
- Control your own destiny. We know people who agonised for years about the decision to become self-employed before finally kicking off from the side of that metaphorical swimming pool and doing it. Most say it's the best thing they ever did in their professional lives, and they wish they'd done it earlier.
- Become 'the man'. That's the goal. To be successful and financially secure by doing something you're good at. It will never happen until you step out of the employment comfort zone. Do it soon, and backed by the right choice from the range of available money management apps, who knows what you might achieve?
The ultimate reward for becoming self-employed and starting your own business, when you've worked hard to make it succeed, is financial security, backed by the feeling of having created something worthwhile from personal skill, ingenuity and dedication. It's a feeling like no other. Especially whilst eating ice cream from the tub with your feet in a desk drawer …