6 Harsh Realities About Self Employment

6 Harsh Realities About Self Employment

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Full time self employment. Is that something you want? A lot of people say they do, but they aren’t prepared for what it really means. “Oh I’ll just start a blog and make money.” Oh you will? Right. “Oh I’ll just be a freelancer on oDesk and travel the world!”, “I’ll just set up an affiliate site!”, “I’ll start a drop shipping business” – and plenty more.

People have a lot of grand ideas about self employment and what it means to be self employed, whether it’s virtually or a business based in the real world. The problem is: Not many people have actually done it. Not many people know what it really takes to be self employed for any real length of time. It is a lot of hard work and most people simply aren’t prepared.

Hell, I hold down a part time job just in case I have a shitty month!

Well I don’t want you to be unprepared, so I’ve put together a list of the 7 harsh realities of self employment for you to read over.

1. Full Time Means All The Time

Full time self employment means all the time self employment. “Oh man, it must be great being your own boss! you get all the time off you want or need!” Except that you don’t. At all. The regular 9 to 5 grinders with 9 to 5 jobs think in terms of ‘free time’. The self employed don’t think in terms of free time, they think in terms of work in relation to income generation.

Just the other day I was on the phone with my dad at 6 PM and I had to let him go so I could answer a call from a business contact. I love my dad, and I love talking to him, but I was about to broker a pretty big deal and I needed to line up some support, which necessitated my answering a phone call – even when it meant cutting my dad short.

When you have a job, all of your time is yours unless you employer specifically blocks off some of it. Right? Any time you aren’t scheduled is your own.

When you’re self employed, it’s the opposite. Any time you don’t schedule a break for yourself, you’re working (or, at least, you should be).

2. Self Employed can look a lot like Unemployed

I read somewhere once that the line between self employed and unemployed was very thin. True fact, kids. I’ve had completely unemployed days, where I made no phone calls, where I met with no clients, where I did no real work and where I spent all day in my underwear. I may as well have been unemployed.

I used to think that unemployed days were days where I made zero dollars. That isn’t true! Unemployed days are days where I’ve made zero effort. As long as I’m moving towards money, moving towards a goal, I’m self employed. Anything less and I have no job and I might as well go get me some of that Obamacare.

3. You have to spend money

Starting a blog? Opening a shop or restaurant? I’ve got some bad news for you: There is more money to spend than just your start up costs. Its called marketing, and you have to put some serious dough into it or you won’t be in business for long.

Don’t think you can just start a twitter, and suddenly go viral and make all kinds of money from out of nowhere. It doesn’t work like that. You’ll need to invest money in “PPC”, newspaper or radio ads (depending on your business), and various other types of marketing.

The truth is, if you don’t spend money to drive people to your business, they won’t know its there.

4. You will have to do things you hate

Do you know what CEOs of small enterprises do? They clean toilets. It’s a way of saying they do everything their business needs them to do, even stuff they hate or think is beneath them. I own a website design company and am a programmer with over 10 years of experience. Do you know what my job consists of? What I spend most of my day, every day doing?

If you said “programming”, or “web design”, or “search engine optimization” you would be wrong. I spend a majority of my time cold calling random business owners and pitching them.

It is awful.

Cold calling is its own special type of hell. But if you sell a service, it is going to be your primary method of gaining new clients (at least until you can afford to pay someone to do that for you).

As a self employed person, you’ll find yourself doing all sorts of things that are self employment related that aren’t the job you signed up for.

5. You will cause tension in your family

If you’re married, the first thing you need to do is make sure your wife is on board. If you have children, make sure you have ample savings. The number one thing that is going to bring you tension in your self employment journey is your family. At first they will look at you kind of sideways when you tell them you’ve left your job in pursuit of greener, self-employed pastures.

The default thinking is that you’re lazy. They think this way because they’ve worked for Sam’s Sprockets & Widgets Co., Inc. since the summer of ’37 and dag nabbit, that’s just what you do! The factory was good to pa for 60 years, it’s been good to me for 40, why isn’t it good enough for you?

This mostly fades as time wears on and they realize that six months, a year, two years later you’re still paying your bills on time, and have more money to spare than most of them. But don’t think that’s the only familial tension!

In the beginning you’ll hit lean times a lot. Bills will be tight, who knows when you’re getting paid next: Prepare for some rough dinner conversations with your significant other.

As you get more successful, even your own family will grow to resent your success, instead of being proud of it. Odd, I know.

6. You have to give up a lot

New video game? Better not until you get that rent money secured. New car? Nah, the old beater will do just fine. eBay & amazon will become your best friends as you find yourself looking for deals on things you need and talking yourself out of things you want.

When you first start out your journey of self employment, you will have to get rid of all of the excess in your life. It just makes it easier when you don’t have so many bills. In addition to cutting out all of the things you don’t need (but think you do), you’ll have to stop giving in to the urge to buy things you want.

A good rule of thumb is: If you have to think about the purchase, you don’t need to make the purchase. Try living by that for a month and see how you do.

Is Self Employment Worth it?

Is self employment even worth it, though? Absolutely. There does come a lot of freedom with it, if you can manage all of the above (and plenty of unseen curve balls that will come your way). Being self employed is the most rewarding thing I’ve done. It has allowed me to take up new hobbies, caused me to learn more about myself, become more resolute in my own masculinity, and in the end it has made me a better person.

Also: The money is pretty good.

Just know that it isn’t for everyone, and it is going to be much harder than you think. If you can handle that, then give it a shot! What’s the worst that could happen? You end up needing a day job?

4 Replies to “6 Harsh Realities About Self Employment”

  1. This is one of the most insightful posts on the net about the cold realities of self-employment. Number 3 definitely hit home with me. Marketing your business is a big-deal, and it costs BIG. But it is something that is equally vital. Like you said:”The truth is, if you don’t spend money to drive people to your business, they won’t know its there.”
    Bingo.

    Number 6 is also very identifiable. When starting up a business, you have to give a lot to it, if not everything. That’s pretty much the key to the progress.

    Keep writing, man. Eagerly waiting for your next publish!

  2. Spot on article Remy, I agree with you on all points!

    People think they just start a blog or an online business, push out some content and that’s it. They can enjoy all the free time they have. But that’s bullshit.

    As you say in #1, you’ll have to work a shit ton all the time. There won’t be days off, especially when you are just starting out and if you truly want to make this work, you will invest all your effort into and not half-ass it.

    Every action, every hour of the day, will be used to grow your business in one way or the other.

    This also perfectly ties into #6. Most people get a little bit of money and they blow it all on stupid shit they don’t actually need, so they can impress some friends and look “rich”.

    The truth is, you will have to invest a lot of money to grow your business and drive traffic to your site like you said in #3.

    Save yourself the big purchases to when you are at a point, where the money doesn’t even faze you.

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