Monday, 5 October 2015

Self-Employment: Is it for you?

For many, the idea of self-employment is the ultimate dream: control over your own hours, answering to no-one but yourself, working from home or designing your own office space, potentially unlimited earning potential, master of your own destiny. But self-employment isn’t for everyone, even if you have a brilliant business idea.
Do you have a sound business plan? Do you have industry knowledge and experience? Do you have the necessary education and qualifications? Do you have contacts in the industry? Do you have the resources necessary for a start-up? How long can you go without another source of income? Are you prepared for your business to fail?
How will you handle the bookkeeping, accounting, marketing, online presence? Where will you operate your business from? Will you have employees? Do you need insurance? Are you familiar with all pertinent tax laws?
Are you the sort of person who is able to work well independently? It’s all well and good to say you want to be your own boss, but are you the sort of person who is capable of working efficiently and productively without some sort of supervision or a system of checks and balances?
Are you prepared to work endless hours, odd hours, nights and weekends and early morning meetings and middle of the night emails, to work the hours and fill the roles of several different people for nowhere near enough pay, at least for the first little while? Are you prepared to constantly have to hustle?
I have been both an employee and self-employed. As I struggled with the choices and decisions I had to make over my return to work outside the home once my youngest started kindergarten this fall, one of the biggest decisions was whether to revive my once successful fitness company or to return to the recreation industry as an employee. In the end, for me, it came down to what would work best for where we are in our lives right now as a family.
For now, I need a job with regular hours within the school day so that I don’t miss out on any time with my kids. I need a steady, regular paycheque and I need to know exactly how much will be coming in and when. I need a job I don’t have to take home with me – my volunteer commitments, my kids’ sports, their after-school activities and my freelance work all take up too much time and are too important to sacrifice.
None of those needs are compatible with being self-employed; so for now I’m back to being an employee.
Being self-employed can be incredibly rewarding: working in a job that you love, working for yourself, knowing that how successful your business is and how successful you are is directly tied to how much you put in to it. But being self-employed is also incredibly risky and takes a lot of hard work.
Are you self-employed? Have you ever been self-employed, or do you dream of working for yourself one day?

Originally published as "Self-Employment: Is it for you?" on my weekly column at

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