I was recently on a call with a client. She had gone from self-employed to working for our client-company because being on her own was not what she expected. "I was envisioning all of this freedom," she said. "I didn't feel free at all."
What she said is exactly what we hear from people who get in touch requesting tips for how to best strike out on their own. People crave freedom, time, and a whole bunch of other things that make them yearn for self-employment. Along the way, they wouldn't mind losing a crappy commute and an even worse boss.
Here are three important things to consider before choosing to be self employed.
1. It takes skills you may not want to use.
Someone we partner with on random projects, Brian, works for himself doing project management. He's always telling us – and did so again just yesterday – that he hates the fact that he 1) has to market his business, 2) has to deal with scheduling, 3) has to keep records, 4) has to bill clients, and 5) has to be the help line. You know, all those things that other people take care of in a corporate environment. Sure, you can hire out for help on anything, but we're talking about people (like us) who want to keep things small and contained.
This. Stuff. Can. Ruin. You.
Can you hack being the complaint line? How are you with confrontation? What's your take on being interrupted? Not a fan? How about being interrupted five times more than you just imagined?
We're lucky to be a couple that works very well together. Moreover, our workplace strengths could not be more complementary. Again, the "core" work we do revolves around helping businesses and people change and grow. But, between us, we've also got far-reaching skills in a broad range of business functions that enhance the core work we do – marketing, sales, service, etc.
2. It's your thing, or it isn't.
Something interesting we've learned over years spent bonding with other freelance / contract peeps: being self-employed is either in your blood, or it's not. I know that may sound either overly simplified or sorta hardcore, but it's true.
This relates, tangentially, to #1, but is different and deserves its own number.
Take our friend, Brian, above. He's innately wired to be doing freelance / contract work, but he hates the tasks that come along with it. Here, in #2, we're talking about people who aren't wired for it. Some questions for exploration:
Do you manage your time well?
Are you an "ideas" person?
Do you work well alone?
Are you a self-starter?
Doing it for yourself only works if it aligns with your natural strengths and talents. Need help figuring out what those natural strengths and talents are? We can help! Well, not right now. But one of these days we're going to bring some of our services here to No Vacation Required.
3. Life Balance? What life balance?
People who succeed – long term – doing their own thing are most often the people who make money by doing exactly what they're meant to be doing. Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, there's a little problem.
It can consume you.
The good news is that, with mindfulness, you can manage the overwhelming desire to work every chance you get.
If you're "on purpose" in life – doing exactly what you should be doing – balance becomes a bit of a ridiculous word. However, we believe in cherishing the sustainability of things that we love. Given that, we're careful to zigzag around the different things we enjoy.
We long ago recognized that too much of a good thing is still too much. It’s what keeps ours a No Vacation Required life. You, too, should aim for an NVR life, not merely work you love.