Nine years ago this week, I set my alarm for the last time and walked away from permanent employment.
On my wish list – all the things the business gurus promised: flexibility; no commute; freedom to define my own version of success; no pesky boss checking her watch. The longed-for escape from the rat race to do my own thing.
Some people find the idea of self-employment terrifying, especially if it’s the result of losing your job or not being able to get the kind of work you want.
In many ways self-employment isn’t what I imagined.
Is it right for you?
Maybe this brief assessment of the pros and cons will help you decide:
Benefit: freedom and independence.
Challenge: unpredictability and financial insecurity.
Benefit: I get to choose who I work with.
Challenge: I have had to learn to deal with rejection.
Benefit: I can pivot and change with the market. Being on my own means I can be agile.
Challenge: I have to do everything myself – IT, finance, marketing, social media, new business development etc.
Benefit: I’m in control of my own diary.
Challenge: the boundary between work and everything else is easily blurred. I don’t get paid to take annual leave (so I barely take annual leave!).
Benefit: The earning potential is limitless.
Challenge: I’m on my own and am trying to work out how to scale my business.
Benefit: solitude. I don’t have to make endless cups of tea for colleagues or make small talk.
Challenge: solitude. No one to informally run things through with. Coco the Incontinent Poodle is gorgeous, but useless as an advisor.
Benefit: responsibility – the buck stops with me.
Challenge: responsibility – the buck stops with me!
After nine years I am comfortable that the benefits of self-employment outweigh the challenges. But it’s not for everyone.
What motivates you?
Try this exercise to work out what is most important to you when it comes to work. Mark the following factors out of 10, and then rank the top 5 in order of priority:
Status: You like the recognition your job title or status gives you.
Recognition: Recognition for your skills and contribution is important.
Feedback: You know when your’e doing a good job.
Challenge: You like to take on new projects and problems.
Leadership: You enjoy opportunities to lead others.
Personal Development: You have continuing opportunities to learn and stretch yourself.
Responsibility: You are responsible for important things/ people/ projects.
Independence/ Freedom: You have control over how you spend your time at work and where you go.
What do the answers tell you? Is your permanent job giving you everything you need? Could there be another way of working that suits you better?
If you’d like to explore this with a career coach, you know where to find me.
Do you have any questions about moving from permanent employment to going it alone? Ask me anything!