In another post I discuss how to quit the rat race, but before you go ahead and do that, you need to ask the question – “can I work for myself?”
Working for yourself is a double-edged sword. You have complete control over every decision, which is incredibly fulfilling, but it can also be very dangerous. Not having someone tell you what to do may result in you not doing anything. On the other hand, being in control of what you do may give you the motivation and inspiration to do great things!
So how do you know if you’re cut out to work for yourself? I think one way to answer that question is to look at how working for yourself is different to working for someone else. The fundamental difference between the two is that, working for yourself, you take on more risk, but you can also reap more rewards.
I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to compare the two in terms of advantages and disadvantages, because some of the differences are advantages for some people and disadvantages for others. It’s really about you and what you prefer, what your strengths are. Just remember that, if you see something as a disadvantage, because it’s hard for you, you can learn or improve your ability in that area with some practice or help.
For many people, COVID-19 gave them a taste of what it could be like, as they were forced to work from home. If that was you, how did you find it? Did you love the freedom of choosing how and when to work, free from office distractions? Or did you miss the office environment and having people around, and found yourself struggling to concentrate? That might have given you a clue as to how you would find working for yourself. Of course, working for yourself doesn’t necessarily mean working by yourself – you could work in your clients’ offices, or at a co-working space – but the point is you have to manage how you work. No-one is telling you exactly what to do, or how or when to do it.
If I could pick the single most important trait you need to successfully work for yourself, it’s self discipline. As far as running your own business goes, ultimately you’re not accountable to anyone but yourself – there’s no one looking over your shoulder making sure you do all the things you have to do to be successful. Unlike an employer, who may reprimand or performance-manage you if you don’t deliver, as your own boss, your clients will simply leave. Or worse, damage your reputation.
One way to see if you’ve got what it takes is to just do it, and see if you survive. I did that when I became a freelance consultant, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. It’s amazing though what we’re capable of when we’re forced to push ourselves. There’s a great article about this very subject here. It’s about Internet entrepreneurs, but applies equally well to any business you can do “on the side”, in your own time.
There is an incredible freedom that comes with working for yourself, so until next time, why not sit down and think about how you prefer to work? What would be your ideal ‘work lifestyle’, and does that fit in with working for yourself?