Being self-employed is not the grand and wonderful adventure it seems to those who are not self-employed. It’s one of the most stressful, most difficult jobs you will ever have, and you just have no idea how difficult it is until you are self-employed.
Until you are in the trenches of self-employment, you just don’t understand how much work it is, what it’s like and how much it changes your life. Oh, sure, it’s good when it’s good. And it’s going to change your life for the better if you work hard and allow it, but it’s not what other people think that it is. It’s not ‘making your own hours’ and ‘doing whatever you want’ all the time.
There might not be a boss to answer to at the end of the day, but if you don’t do the work, no one does. We have a few undeniable truths about self-employment and what it means to be the man you have to answer to on a daily basis.
If You Don’t do it, No One Will
If you decide you want to take a week off, you have to plan way in advance. You can’t just take a week off and not work; you have a business to run. If you are not there to run your business, it does not run. If you are not there to do the work, it does not get done. This is a self-evident truth that all self-employed persons will tell you with a hint of panic in their voices.
You Make Your Own Money
The good news and the bad news about being self-employed is that you do make your own money. You get to determine how much you make or how little you make, but it all depends on the effort and level of work you put into your job. If you’re not around to do the job, you don’t make any money. If you don’t put all you have into the job, you don’t make any money. If you want to make more money, you have to work even harder. There is no quarterly raise or bonus; you have to do the work.
You have no Vacation
You don’t get paid vacation days, and that’s a bummer. When you work hard to own your own business, you have to take vacation, but you don’t have to get paid for it. If you’re not there to do the work, you are not going to get paid for it. It’s a harsh reality, and that’s why so many self-employed people don’t take as much time off work as you might think that they do.
Your Work Never Stops
You can’t just go home from work and not think about it again until the morning. You will be answering phone calls and emails and questions and all kinds of things at all hours of the day because, that’s right, you’re the boss. Your email will never stop. Your phone calls will never stop. Your brain will never stop. You are the end all and be all of your own existence, and it’s up to you to keep the work going even when it’s time to stop.
You Make the Rules
You are the boss, and that is nice. However, you are the boss; this means you get to be the person in charge. When people are made, they are mad at you. When people are unhappy, they are unhappy with you. When someone quits, you have to find a replacement and then train that person. When you need help, you have to find it.
When you need something done, chances are pretty good that you have to do it yourself. There is no vacation day, there is no one else to blame the rules on; you are the rule-maker, the maker of the rules; the person in charge.
Being self-employed is stressful, because you are never really in control. You are at the mercy of your clients, and their happiness. If they are not happy with your work, you lose income. If you lose income, you lose a lot more than just income. It’s stressful.
You Have No One to Complain To
When something is not fair or going your way, you have no one to complain to about the issues in the office. You are the person to whom complaints are directed, and you are in charge of listening to complaints. But guess what? When you have a complaint, there is no one there to listen to it on your behalf. That’s a bummer.
People Have No Idea what it is Like
Your friends are all envious that you own your own business. They assume you are super rich and that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. They have no idea you work at 5 am and are still working at 11 pm when you should be in bed but can’t sleep because of X, Y and Z.
People have no idea how hard you work, how little you rest and just what it is you do all day, every single day; nights, weekends and holidays.
You Create Your Destiny
The good news about self-employment, however, is that you create your own destiny. You are in charge of your future. You make the rules, and you can take this as far as you want. There is no boss determining what you make and how much you earn, or how far you advance in your career. There is only you and your success and your ideas of how far you want to go. You are in control, and you can make good things happen in your life.
You Can’t Turn it Off
You can never turn off your self-employment. It’s with you all the time. It’s with you in the pew at church when you should be listening to the sermon but instead are listening to your inner business owner think about things to do this week. It’s with you on nights and weekends when you are enjoying family time and thinking of ways to improve that project on which you are working. You cannot turn it off.