In this post, I’m going to do something which I don’t typically write about in my blog, but it’s come about because I see an awful lot of people who are self-employed and running micro-businesses who, in all honesty, really shouldn’t be self-employed and doing what they’re doing.
In fact, they would be far happier and far more successful if they developed a career in employment.
In other words, they shouldn’t be self-employed, and there’s a number of reasons why I think this.
For the most part, I’ve kind of narrowed it down to just a handful of things that, if you’re thinking about being self-employed, you really need to consider before you make that leap.
Because, whilst being self-employed is very fulfilling and I’ve written about it over and over again, there are an awful lot of things which make it very different from working for somebody else.
So, what I’d like to do is just list a few reasons why you shouldn't be self-employed. And, if you can’t get over these things, quite frankly, I think you should stay in a job.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t give self-employment a go, but the bottom line is: it’s not as easy as a lot of people seem to think.
The first thing a lot of people misunderstand, when they become self-employed is: you have to be multi-skilled, far more multi-skilled than you will ever need to be in almost any job.
Now, what do I mean by that? Well, here's a short list of just some of the things you need to get good at
- time management - You need to be very VERY good at organizing yourself and your work
- customer service
- making the distinction between work-life and home-life (if you work from home)
And a whole load of other things – you need to be incredibly good at self-discipline to be able to get all of this lot done.
So, you’re going to have to develop a wide variety of skills that are typically shared between a team when you work for a business.
Usually, if you work in a business, you’ll have an accounts department where they specialize in bookkeeping and accounting. You’ll have a sales department who bring in the customers. You’ll have a production department who deliver the product or the service to customers. You’ll have an administration staff who will do all of the background information.
When you’re self-employed, you have to do all of it.
That’s not saying you can’t get help because you can contract out some stuff like certain little elements of your marketing, your bookkeeping, and to some extent, certain elements of fulfillment. But, you’re still going to have manage all of this. So, first things first, you’re going to have to be very, very multi-skilled.
The great news is that all of these skills can be learned and, if you’re going to be self-employed and if it’s your first time at self-employment, you’re going to have to learn them really quickly.
Thankfully, the internet is an absolute godsend here because there’s so much information out there for free that there really is no excuse for being not very good at any of those things.
The next thing that a lot of people misunderstand about being self-employed is that you’re likely to have an inconsistent income (at least to begin with).
I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a situation where I had quite a lot of money in the bank and then, six weeks later, there was next to nothing in the bank. It becomes like a 'yo-yo in the cash flow'. That’s what I like to call it.
But, the great thing is that, once you get off and running and develop a head of steam, you should be able to work out ways to iron out the cash flow. But, you need to accept that it is going to be a bumpy ride.
Nobody ever becomes successful in a straight line. It just doesn’t work that way. Nearly nobody develops a consistent income as a self-employed in a linear fashion. It really rarely happens.
Another biggie is that you’re going to face a lot of rejection.
Now, this is arguably the most challenging thing for many people who have come from employment into self-employment because, when you’re working for somebody else, your work is largely provided for you. You don’t have to go out and dig for it. You don’t have to fish for it. You don’t have to pitch for it. You don’t have to make presentations for it. You just sit there and your work is given to you.
When you’re self-employed, you have to handle rejection; more so than almost anything else simply because not every customer is going to buy everything from you. So, you have to be able to acknowledge, and not just acknowledge but overcome, the fact that some folks are going to say no to what you have to offer.
This can be quite tough for some people and you can’t afford to be fragile in this way if you’re self-employed.
We build websites in our business. I also do a lot of training. Not every proposal I put out there turns into a customer. The trick is to acknowledge that this is always going to be the case.
Not everybody buys an Apple computer. Do the people at Apple get upset? No. Do the people who sell cars who don’t make that sale, do they get upset? No. They just realize that this is the nature of the game and they move on.
This is a toughie and you need to get over this one really, really quickly. Otherwise, you simply won’t survive longer term in self-employment.
I'm serious here, if you really can't handle rejection then maybe you shouldn't be self-employed.
Another thing, and to some extent this I think is arguably the biggest because all success and motive in self-employment stems from this, and it’s that you need to be self-motivated, and that self-motivation needs to turn into discipline.
Now, what I mean by self-motivated is that you need to have an internal drive, an internal reason, an internal motivation, for doing what you do over and above anything you’ve probably ever known when working for somebody else. Because there will be times when it’s tough.
There will be times when there’s no money in the bank. There will be times when the customer is on your case all the time. There will be times when you’ll have too much work to cope with. There will be times when you don’t have enough work to cope with.
It will be this motivation that will get you out of bed in the morning. I’ve been there and done it.
There have been times when I really did not want to take my head off the pillow because I did not want to face all of the challenges that being self-employed brought to me. I promise you that it will be largely the same for you every now and then.
At some point, you will become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff you’ve got to do, and issues you’ve got to cope with, and workload that you have to get through.
The good news is, that when you’re self-employed and when you run a small business, it’s incredibly satisfying when you do a good job. It’s incredibly satisfying when you make a sale. It’s incredibly satisfying when a customer talks about you to somebody else and they also become a customer. It’s incredibly satisfying when you don’t have to give up your share of the profits to an employer. It’s incredibly satisfying knowing that, if you sell more you can earn more, unlike having a job where your salary or your pay is normally fixed.
It’s incredibly satisfying to know that you are in charge of your own destiny.
So, despite what I’ve said, hopefully this is a motivation to you to not just consider self-employment, but consider what you can do to make your own self-employment that much more successful, to work on the areas that will make you better at managing you, make you a better boss of you.
So, if you have any thoughts on this, please write them in the section below, in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks a lot.
Want more on being self-employed? Check out:
The reason why we do it (video)