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Is Self Employment For You?

I write about empowerment and entrepreneurship because there’s a lot of overlap with those topics when it comes to living your dream.

Based on the success of books like bestseller The 4-Hour Work Week many people dream of being self-employed. It seems like most of us dream of working from home or working from anywhere so we can easily travel.

But is self-employment all it’s cracked up to be? To succeed in self-employment you need to be resilient, flexible, resourceful, confident and willing to take risks. I’ve been at it for 12 years and it’s not the golden dream some people imagine. Personally, I wouldn’t have it anyother way but you should consider what it’s really like to be self-employed and make sure it’s a dream that’s going to agree with you before you try it.

Really knowing why you want to be self-employed and seeing what the longterm benefits could be should motivate you to go for it and keep at it when you do set up business on your own. My goal is to help you find out what you do want in life and then help you get it so let’s find out if self-employment’s for you.

I’ve come up with a few pros and cons about self-employment and I’d love it if you add more in the comments.

Pros of Being Self-Employed

  1. Flexibility of location.
  2. Save time – no wasted hour commuting to work.
  3. Choice – of when you work, how often and for how long
  4. Be your own boss.
  5. Wear what you like.
  6. Potential to earn more.

Cons of Being Self-Employed

  1. No fixed income – You may have no income at all to begin with and when you do it may be quite unstable with high earnings one month and low the next. If you’re just setting up your own business you should make sure you have a financial cushion to keep you going in the beginning when you don’t earn much.
  2. No Perks – free stationary, Internet, photocopies, insurance and business class travel will probably be things of the past.
  3. No paid vacations or downtime. For example, I often work on public holidays. If we go away on holiday we have to organise all the work before we go and sometimes check our email daily so we can take care of any unexpected problems.
  4. No work mates – you’ll be the boss if you choose to employ anyone.
  5. New responsibilities – You’ll probably need to have a broader experience and be able to understand all areas of business even if you don’t take care of them yourself. You’ll need a good understanding of things like finances, sales, marketing, Web design, Internet marketing and being a good boss so you can choose great people to take care of jobs you don’t do yourself.

What Do You Think About Self-Employment?

Are you already self-employed? Would you like to be? Why or why not?

New Branding and Website Design Very Soon

Next time you visit this website it should look very different.

The new logo and web design will be unveiled soon. Because we have to test it live on a variety of computers and browsers and then remove it if it needs tweaking I can’t say exactly when, but hopefully it will be live for your enjoyment within the next day or two.

Get In the Hot Spot will look totally different. It’s a huge change but definitely one for the better. The content will be the same although I’m always trying to improve that too. The toucan will be gone but the I can, you can, toucan attitude will stay.

I can’t wait to share the new look with you. I think we’ve managed to nail a fun but sophisticated look and create a place you’ll look forward to hanging out at. Definitely the start of something great and befitting for a place where you come to make yourself greater than ever before.

Upcoming Hot Spot Shop

I’m opening a shop here next week with a few select products that I recommend for budding entrepreneurs. I’ll only recommend books or courses I stand by 100% and truly feel offer the things I strive to provide here: good, down to earth advice, postitive motivation and integrity.

I’ve been scouring the Internet for excellent products for over a year and have come across two authors whose books or courses on entrepreneurship, setting up a business and being self-employed I recommend. They’re the hottest products available and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.

Thank you for reading ~ Please subscribe if you haven’t already

If you’re new here make yourself at home and check out some previous posts. I hope you’ll find my tips on empowerment and entrepreneurhsip useful. If so please take a moment to subscribe to Get In the Hot Spot. It’s a brilliant way to stay motivated and inspired plus it’s totally free.

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Photo by Scarleth White.

Author: Annabel Candy

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Robin Dickinson May 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Hi Annabel,

Great to have you back from your rock-star promo tour. No perks, huh? ;)

In my experience, all of the ‘cons’ you have listed can and have become ‘pros’. It may just take a little longer to manifest them.

The real key is to treat self-employment as a strictly commercial proposition. Easy to say, but takes complete focus and discipline to make happen.

Best,

Robin :)

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Annabel Candy May 11, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Robin – Hmm, strictly commerical as opposed to an excuse for bumming around on the beach with the kids for a decade? I think I’m starting to understand that. If you want to make self employment a commerical success you have to be hungry for that and for the first time in my life I am. Starving actually. But the bumming scenario is good too, that’s my semi-retirement plan.

That’s funny about the perks isn’t it? I promise I wrote this before being offered any and just added in the PROBABLY before won’t travel business class. Perks are good anyway, but hard cash is better and self-employment can definitely deliver that:)

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Melanie May 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Thanks for this. This is something that I am really considering, wondering if I am just burned out at my job or whether I really want to be self employed. I’ve got a lot of soul searching to do. But my instincts sort of tell me that not only would I have flexibility with my time, but I would also have flexibility in my creativity. Working in institutions sometimes squashes your own creativity, you know? And I would just love to get my creativity back.

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Annabel Candy May 11, 2010 at 1:11 pm

Melanie – Brilliant addition. Creative freedom does make work so much more fun and meaningful. I love that on my blog. I can really write about whatever I like as long as it fits the parameters of upbeat, motivtional and useful for people who want to live their dream. You’re so right, if you do stuff you don’t want all the time you lose track of yourself and your creativity and just don’t have time for it. If you’re burnt out self employment could be the answer and make work fun again.

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Adam May 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Good points, I personally think the good will outweigh the bad points once I can get to the point of self employment. Also I think you could have added a couple of more good points like: ‘Not having to think about every little comment you make to your co-workers due to the office politics & rampant office gossip’

If you’re smart and talented enough to get to the point of self-employment, you can demonstrate the self control to counter a lot of the Cons listed.

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Annabel Candy May 11, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Adam – Great to hear from you. I’ve been self-employed for about 15 years so it’s hard for me to remember the cons. Thanks for chipping in with that one: No office politics or gossip. It can get a bit boring and lonely working from home though – me and my husband have to gossip about ourselves these days:) At least we have Twitter and Facebook these days.

I think if you can exercise self-control, avoid spending all day on FB and Twitter and make self-employment work it does do wonders for your self-confidence and independence.

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Stafford May 11, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Good stuff as usual Annabel. From a practical point of view, if you are considering jumping from a staff position straight self employment, for goodness sake make a business plan and have it evaluated by someone who is not in your family. This is viital if financial investment is required. Having a burning desire and even talent is not always enough. To go on your own and lose (say) your house is a bit of a downer!. But having said that, to stay in a job that doesn’t fit you is a waste of your life, so be prepared to change jobs, even downsize to less hours or less income.

Some of the more successful self employers have moved to it gradually by small steps while still having one foot in a paid job. Minimises the risk. White knuckles rides make heroic reading but they are disastrous if they fail and most do!

I’ve done both and moved from self employment to staff and back several times. I must say, working with exciting and talented people is exciting and fun. More so than any self employmen I have enjoyed.

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Annabel Candy May 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Stafford – It will take plenty of planning and preparation. Great tips on being flexible even if you’re not ready for self-employment so you can live the life you want while working for someone else. It is fabulous working with talented people but now I’m self-employed I still hang out with other talented creatives – sometimes we actually work together on bigger projects and sometimes it’s just social. It’s good to be supported when you’re self-employed and be inspired by hanging out with inspirational people. So lucky, I find comments and feedback by my readers inspire me. Thanks so much!

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Sandrine May 11, 2010 at 7:30 pm

I think I’d love to be my own boss – even though I know I’d find it very hard somedays to motivate myself. If you have a bad day and your confidence about your ability to do your job goes down, you can always tell yourself that at least your boss must have thought you do it, otherwise they wouldn’t have given you the job. What do you do if you’re self-employed? I guess you have to look for validation elsewhere, but it must be hard sometimes.
In any case as an academic, I don’t see how I could be self-employed! So not something I have to worry about for now.

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Annabel Candy May 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Sandrine – If you want to you can! But academics get lovely long holidays – I hope you do – and teaching is rewarding. You have your website for a creative outlet too:)

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Srinivas Rao May 12, 2010 at 2:06 am

Annabel,

I kind of have the best of both worlds. I have the stability of an income wit the flexiblity of being self employed. I only am in an office 3 days a week and the rest of the week I work from home. I think in the long term my goal is to spend a year traveling the world, surfing and writing about it. So, is self employment for me, probably :). Although I wouldn’t call that self employment as I would living a dream.

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Joanne May 12, 2010 at 3:34 am

Hi Annabel!

I’ve been working on my own for 7 years now. The best pro of all is the ability to “skip” the office politics and get straight to the work. My clients are all amazed at how “fast” I am at returning the work. But that’s because there are no meetings and no interferences for me. I love it and would have a hard time imagining going back to a structured environment.

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Teresa ´Soon to be Sel-employed´Long May 12, 2010 at 3:36 am

I miss working for myself…I am currently working for a company selling land in Costa Rica but I am sloggin my guts out so much that I feel I have lost the enthusiasm that people could see about living here. You have to balance everything so your passion shines though what you are selling…and let`s face it we are all selling something when we open our own businesses. Be strong peeps, stay motivated at whatever cost and be passionate…Mmm now if I could just think of a business I want to start hahahaha

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Terri Faye May 12, 2010 at 3:37 am

Hi Annabel, I only recently discovered your blog and have enjoyed reading your posts very much. It is such a pleasure to hear inspirating articles and know that there are others that truly love to help! Thank you!

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Fungeezer May 12, 2010 at 4:51 am

I love being my own boss and working from home, but there are certainly disadvantages and you name some of the biggies!

The thing I hate the most is that I tend to get caught up in my work and don’t see another human being for days. That’s a bad thing!

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Annabel Candy May 12, 2010 at 5:10 am

Srinivas – It sounds marvelous. I feel quite humbled as so many of my readers are, like you, already living their dream or working towards it:) It’s wonderful to hang out with such an adventurous bunch.

Joanne – Great to have you here. So glad you raised that. I can’t stand meetings though I do enjoy a good brainstorming session with like-minded creative types.

Teresa – I think we all know that feeling when work interferes with life. I know there’s a way you can combine your passion for people, wildlife and Costa Rica into a business idea.

Terri – Thanks for joining us here and contributing, it’s great to have you with us.

Fungeezer – Agreed. Twitter and Facebook aren’t quite the same as face to face meetings are they? I spend a lot of time typing and love to break away from that by talking on the phone or via a Skype video call. It’s brilliant to connect with people all over the world that way.

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Jennifer Barry May 12, 2010 at 6:07 am

Hi Annabel, I think you nailed the major pros and cons. I have been self-employed since 2003 and I can’t imagine going back to a regular 9-5 routine. I can thank my husband since he’s the one who suggested I start my own business. For whatever reasons, working hard and outperforming for an employer had no positive effect on my success. In fact, it often caused trouble for me due to office politics.

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Annabel Candy May 12, 2010 at 6:13 am

Jennifer – Thanks for casting the vote against office politics. One of the biggest challenges for me is making sure work doesn’t overlap into home life and time with the kids. The dining table doubles up as my office and it’s all to easy to get online quickly then staying on there too long dealing with emails or other business. That’s what I have to guard against:)

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Anne Galivan May 12, 2010 at 9:24 am

What most people probably don’t realize about being self-employed is:

1) You will probably spend way more time on your own business than you ever spent in the office…i.e. don’t expect the 4-hour work week when you’re starting out.

2) You probably have no idea all the various hats you will have to wear and, for most people, you are probably not prepared, so start out with your venture part-time to see if you really want to put in the time and effort.

3) Don’t look at the results of someone else and assume that will come to you if you just work hard enough. That person may be a lot smarter, more prepared, or…they could be faking their success! :)

I base the above on the experiences I have had with my husband being a self-employed building contractor for most of the last 18 years. He made the classic mistake of people in the building profession (99% of them men) who think just because they can swing a hammer or lay pipe or run wiring that they can automatically be successful if they go out on their own.

Problem is…most of them, my husband included, have no idea what it takes to run a business. It took my husband a good decade to learn how to actually charge enough to make a profit. And when the economy tanks as it has, all the positive thinking in the world isn’t going to make people part with their cold, hard cash to put on that addition or remodel their kitchen (yes, the last year has sucked).

On the other hand, being self-employed does allow for some autonomy, creativitiy, and freedom that a 9-5 does not. I’m not knocking being self-employed, just saying that there are a lot of people out there with unrealistic expectations of what it takes to make that a reality.

BTW, Annabel, I launched my website on May 3rd if you want to give it a look.

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Annabel Candy May 12, 2010 at 9:51 am

Anne – Lol, it is harder workbut more rewarding. Congrats on the site launch, it looks great:) Brilliant to watch you blossoming and expanding your niche.

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Sandra Lee May 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

Thanks for the reality check. I will always take self employment over a 9-5 job. I don’t want to be constantly in the midst of all the busyness, stress, and chaos. I enjoy having control over my own work pace and goals and keeping it simple.

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Colin Wee May 12, 2010 at 11:42 am

That’s a really good post, Annabel, and you’re right … a person could spend way more time on a small business than if you were paid to do a job by someone else. I know … because I’m on a path to starting my own business and the sheer amount of hours I’m spending in front of the computer is mind blowing.

However, on the whole there is greater control and a sense of purpose that is difficult to ignore. While not exactly on the topic of entrepreneurship, I’ve just come up with a post on part time employment and how parents can ace that interview.

You’ve inspired me to come up with a few posts on the topic. Great chatting.

Cheers, Colin

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Annabel Candy May 12, 2010 at 11:54 am

Colin – Thanks for popping by, great that I’ve inspired you:)

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Anilia May 13, 2010 at 2:22 am

I tend to avoid this question whenever someone blogs on it. For me there’s no other option. I hate having to sit at a desk at the hours someone else sets; I hate having to get approval if I don’t want to work that day. But I admit that I love getting a paycheck every 2 weeks, having great health benefits and *most* of my coworkers.

I think you can learn to be a great solo entrepreneur like you can learn most other things… but I don’t know for sure because I still work for The Man. The satisfaction I get on days where I’m only working on my own projects (like Saturdays and holidays) really leads me to believe that self-employment is definitely for me. We’ll see though… I know its gonna happen for me, its just a matter of time.

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Mars Dorian May 14, 2010 at 4:27 am

Hey Annabel,

I’m already self-employed, and it’s a tough journey for sure, but it’s sooo much fun as well, and I couldn’t stand a boss breathing from behind.

“Be your own boss” is my daily mantra – it’s the air I breathe ,)

Can’t wait to see your new design !!

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Connie May 14, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Your redesign is fabulous! Love the colors, design, vibe, everything.
And a very timely and interesting post. I’ve been self-employed for over a year now and it’s working very well :-)

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Walter May 15, 2010 at 11:52 am

Nice post explaining the truths of entrepreneurship and some pitfalls to look out for. Unlike you, I’ve never quite got the guts to step out and do something which my heart truly desires because of the cost-benefit trade-offs that have inflicted my tormented self. However, your post did give me some ideas on what to do. Perhaps I’ll start something on the sidelines first as cited by the other 8 hours website and see how it develops? :)

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Nikhil July 20, 2010 at 11:47 am

Hi,

This post is in line with the reality of Entreprenuership or in other word, what we call self employment !

Real value adding articles are those (Off course, Obviously like this one), that SHARE REALITIES AND NOT JUST FANTASIES.

People dream of being self employed, but GET COLD WHEN IT COMES TO TAKE ACTION, the reasons are many, but the most important one is the ABILITY TO RISK WHICH IS CRUCIAL WHEN AT ONE END ONE WANTS TO FOLLOW ONES’S DREAMS !

And other reason, is lack of/ network which can GUIDE GENUINELY to help them people reach their goals, It is not the case that, people dont want to get successfull, most of the times, THEY DONT KNOW HOW TO !

Thanks,
Nikhil,
India

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