Taking the Plunge: Why I Hate Being Self-Employed
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You read the title right – there are days where I absolutely hate being self-employed and running our own business. Last week I covered why I love being self-employed, and today I’ll discuss why the grass is not always greener on the other side. Starting your own business is a ton of hard work. To put it lightly, it’s not the “lollipops and rainbows life” that the late night infomercials would have you think. One of the things that’s easy to miss when you’re self-employed is the benefits you receive from being an employee.
Health insurance, nope. Free money for retirement, nope. Paid vacation days, nope. Those are all things that are easy to miss and anyone would miss those. What I am talking about in hating self-employment is all of the nasty things that those infomercials do not tell you about. I share this all with you, my readers, so if you’re considering running your own business that you go into it with your eyes WIDE open to the benefits of being self-employed, but also the drawbacks that need to be seriously considered.
Being Self-Employed Means It’s ALL up to You
It is nice to go to work every day and be told what to do, or at the very least, have a framework of expectations that you need to fulfill by the end of the day, week, etc. There is nothing at all wrong with liking that; heck, we all crave some amount of structure in our lives. If you’re self-employed then that framework is out the window. Any framework you do have is because you have created it. That demands that you be extremely disciplined with your time and cut out the fat.
In most office settings you have meetings, inner office politics and the like that are time wasters. Such time wasters are not absent from the world of self-employment. Time drainers must be kept to a minimum, otherwise the day will easily get away from you and you’ll see at the end of the day that nothing has been accomplished. This, though, just covers the day in and day out activities. Added to that is the aspect of bringing in additional business, managing workflow and handling client invoicing. Those can be extremely daunting tasks if you have a lot of work and it can play on your mind if you have no work. You also have no human resources area that will prompt you to improve yourself and grow professionally so that gets thrown on the pile too.
As you can see when you run your own business it’s all up to you…I could write an entire post on that, but I’ll leave it at this section.
People Do Not Keep Their Word
Ok, to be bluntly fair, I already knew this before we became self-employed. However, when you run your own business, you really and truly begin to feel it. We’ve met with numerous potential clients who have said the right things and told us, without a doubt, that they wanted to do business with us. The sad thing is that many of those times they fall off of the face of the earth after they tell us yes.
On one hand, we could be thankful for that as we probably would’ve had to hire two people to help us with all of the work, but it still sucks. I like to pride myself as being a man of my word, though I am not perfect I do like to follow through when I give someone a yes. Sadly, this is not always the case when you manage your own business. I don’t know if the people out and out lied or if they just chose to go a different direction, but you learn very quickly to not count business until you sign on the dotted line and see the first job come in. This can be a drain on finances as well as a mental challenge as it can be difficult not to worry about why they chose to go a different direction. Ultimately, when it does happen, and it will again, you need to assess the situation to make sure nothing was/is wrong with your approach and go on. Otherwise, it can really take a mental toll on you.
What Work-Life Balance?
While many people have to take work home at the end of the day, countless others get to leave their work on their desk when they leave for the day. What about when you’re self-employed? Well, there is no such thing as a true work-life balance. This becomes readily apparent when you run your business out of your home. When you’re self-employed there is almost always something that “needs” to be done, it just comes with the territory. This can result in a horrid work-life balance. It is very easy to find yourself working at 10:00 or 11:00 at night, knowing full well that you need to be up at 5:00 the next morning. Add to that the reality of being reachable at nearly any time of the day and you have all the ingredients for an unbalanced work-home life. This ultimately means you need to find a happy medium and set boundaries, which is a topic I’ll be covering in a future post.
If You Hate it, Then Why Are You Doing it?
After all of my belly aching, I know it begs the question of why are we doing it. Truth be told, being self-employed and running your own business is a lot of hard work…A LOT! You work long hours and have to create a whole business on your own. Please do not forget that if you think self-employment is for you. If you do, then you will likely flame out in the end.
There are two main reasons why we chose to go down the path of starting a business: the freedom that comes as a result and we see direct results of our hard work. Those two things on their own can be incredibly intoxicating. Mind you, they should not be THE only reason why you should pursue self-employment but they are major factors. When we were in our decision making process we looked at the pluses and the minuses of going all in with our business idea. In the end we saw the limitless possibilities of what we could create and knew we had the background to be able to accomplish something big. We are doing it because we have a place we want to get in life and that was not possible with the then current situation. Things had been going nowhere for too long and a change was needed. Simply, we are doing it to better our family and improve our lot in life.
I’ll end this post with the same disclaimer I have given in all of my other Taking the Plunge posts…If you think running your own business is for you, great! However, go into it with your eyes WIDE open to the fact that it is A LOT of hard work and that it rarely, if ever, comes by easily. Running a business is not for everyone, so please make sure that if you’re debating it now please do so with that in mind.
If you’ve made it through the near 1,300 word post, thank you for sticking around. I covered just a few of the ugly warts of being self-employed. What are some of the things you think you’d hate?
Picture courtesy of: Luke – rative
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.