3 min read

Self-Employment Myths Realized

Self-Employment Myths Realized
Photo by Ben White / Unsplash

I was recently at conference with a few other industry colleagues, and one of them said something to the effect of: "I'd NEVER work a job again. Working for myself is the BEST thing EVER. I LOVE IT" I nearly choked on an ice cube when he said that, as it didn't seem to reflect my reality at all.

Yes, after a year of self-employment I've certainly learned a lot about myself and about running my own business. Spoiler alert: Almost none of these learnings have been "pleasant surprises".

Most of the time, a employment realization will go something like: "Fuck I wish I would have seen that coming." Each realization is still incredibly valuable and hard-won growth and insight, but damn. Some days I just wonder.

Here are a few Self-Employment Myths that I've realized over the past year:

1. When I have my own business I'll have so much more TIME.

Reality: LOL. You're working 7 days a week and there is no such thing as vacation. I don't even drink alcohol so I'm using evenings and mornings, too, every day. I have not had a "non-working-vacation" in over 18 months.

2. When I have my own business I'll have so much more MONEY.

Reality: You'll probably make less money for the first year, and, if you're lucky you'll make what you were making at your job, at least to start. Keep in mind you'll be paying FICA now, and paying taxes in huge quarterly chunks. Additionally you'll be paying an accountant and possibly freelancers as well.

Even well-funded startups take years to see profitability. If you are starting off on your own you'll be looking for previous-salary-parity in consulting revenue and very slowly building a dream business that you really hope will pay off.

3. I can work from anywhere and be a digital nomad!!!

Reality: Working from remote places sucks, in general. This is a total fantasy. You won't be comfortable, you probably won't have your external monitors or desk space, and you won't be able to count on WiFi.

Additionally: "working vacations" suck big time. Being stuck on calls all day while your family is joyfully playing outside and beckoning you out to join them on the beach is AWFUL.

Taking calls from cars, planes, and trains sucks and makes you look like an amateur on the other side of the call as well. No thanks.

4. No bosses!

Reality: More bosses. Every client is a boss, and they may have people handling you that are a boss as well. Since you're a consultant or vendor, they expect more of you than their own employees and are certainly not going to be nicer to you, either. Have investors? More bosses.

5. Less Stress

Reality: More stress. A regular job seems like a cakewalk in comparison to this. I actually can't even imagine being stressed out in a regular job at this point. Valuable insight for sure.

6. A bunch of "fractional" work will add up to more than you used to previously make and be easier

Reality: Clients always hear "fractional" when it comes to the price, and also hear "absolutely full time all you can eat with unlimited projects" when it comes to their expectations. So, 3 fractional clients = 3 full time jobs for the same amount you used to get for one job! What a deal, huh?

7. I won't have to be "always on"

Reality: No matter what business you're going to be in, you will have to be available. People expect responses quickly these days and tend to have very little patience for any lag.

8. Less video calls/meetings

Reality: More video calls and meetings then you've ever imagined in your entire life. I've upgraded my camera and mic and background because I have so many. For most clients, video calls are basic units of work. Nothing moves forward without more video conferences in business today. Calls and meetings often spawn other follow-up calls and meetings, too. You'll also be adding in calls with vendors, possible partners, networking calls, accountant calls, lawyer calls, freelancer calls, banker calls. Lots of calls and video conferences.

So there you go. There are just a few myths I've "busted" since going out on my own over a year ago.

What I'd prompt you to do is really think about "why" you want to do this, because if it's for any of the 8 reasons above then you might be barking up the wrong tree!