I started working from home in 2012.
At the time, most of my time and energy was spent writing blog posts for a music industry startup. The income was good for the work I was doing, but it wasn’t enough.
I had an offer to teach guitar at a music store once per week, so I decided to take it.
In time, my income with the music industry startup doubled, so between the two commitments, I managed to piece together a decent income.
Not that I had worked many conventional jobs up to that point, but that was the beginning of a new season in my life. I started dividing my time between the work I was doing at home and the odd jobs I picked up elsewhere. This gave me time to build my own blogs and websites, too.
Jump ahead to 2016, and I was able to walk away from my side gigs outside to work on my business and writing projects entirely from home. That was a hugely gratifying experience.
Teaching Others How to be Self-Employed
A couple of years ago, I had a friend who asked me how he could set himself up to be doing what I was doing. He wanted to spend more time on his creative pursuits instead of wasting his time at a job.
At first, I didn’t take him too seriously. But after I connected him to my contacts and resources, soon he was up and running and even landing himself better work than I was.
In the gig economy, it is totally possible to piece together several opportunities to support yourself. And, sometimes one opportunity is more than enough.
Eventually, though, my friend started bemoaning some of the downsides of working from home.
Here are some of the points he raised:
- In a job, you can develop rapport with your coworkers and make friends. There’s a built-in social aspect to it.
- If you’re an artist who’s self-employed, you end up becoming a shut-in because both your work and your creative work are oftentimes done in isolation.
- As a freelancer it can be hard to find steady work.
For better or for worse, there are pros and cons to any line of work you choose to get into. I can understand my friend’s perspective, to be sure, as I’ve wrestled with some of these things periodically. Still, I would choose self-employment over employment any day. Here’s why:
You Can Earn on Performance
One of the things I despise most about jobs is the inability to earn on performance.
I used to work at a laptop outlet retail store. No matter how much or how little I worked, I got paid the same $9 an hour. I was told there would be commissions on sales, but it turns out commissions were only given on laptops sold with a warranty. Even then, it didn’t amount to much.
The boss would always be telling me to sell more, clean the place, fix a laptop or help the tech in the back. Did I get rewarded for any of the additional work? No.
As a self-employed, sure, I’m selling a product or service just like anyone else is. But I can choose how much I want to work. If I want to earn more, I can work more. Or, I can introduce a new book, course or product. Truly, there is no upper limit on my earning potential if I partner, collaborate and leverage the help of others.
If you aren’t self-motivated, then being self-employed could be a real challenge. You might succumb to more Netflix binges or video game marathons than you’d even care to admit. If you don’t know where your next sale or client is coming from, and you can’t stay focused on your work, you could end up making very little or nothing. You can’t sustain your life like that.
But I don’t see my potential as being fixed, so I’d rather pursue a path that allows for unlimited growth.
You Can Surround Yourself with Sharp People
Later in life, it’s not about the quantity of friends you have. It’s about the quality of friends you have. A lot of the people and situations you think are so important now won’t matter 20, 30 or 40 years from now, let alone a couple of years from now.
Sure, in a job you are surrounded by people you can interact with and bounce ideas off. But that can be just as much of a downside as it is an upside.
You must take a close look at the people you are surrounded by. If you like the results they have in life, then it’s okay to spend time with them. But if you have your sights set on achieving more, these people could just as easily hold you back.
As you continue down the path of self-employment, you’ll begin to connect with likeminded people –freelancers, business owners, investors and others who are leading an unconventional life. It may not happen overnight, but you’ll begin to connect with people who understand what you’re going through, what you’re trying to achieve and why you’re doing it. They’re going to help you and inspire you to achieve more — not less.
In a workplace, you are together with others by default. As a self-employed or business owner, you can choose who you want to surround yourself with. It’s not an either/or situation, but all things being equal I would say it’s better to spend time around people who are ambitious and have big goals.
You Can Make Your Own Schedule
In the last year or so, I’ve enjoyed more freedom in my life than ever before. That would have never happened if I didn’t do the hard work of laying down the foundation, but once that was in place, I found myself able to breathe.
Many people start businesses with the goal of creating more freedom in their lives. And, I believe there is freedom to be enjoyed from day one of self-employment.
But so often people just create another job for themselves and end up working harder and longer for less money. That is one of the potential downsides of self-employment.
I would argue this is just short-term thinking, however. A couple of years ago, when a friend of mine learned how much I was making in my business, he suggested it would be far better to get a high-paying job where I would be working less for the same amount of money.
I respectfully disagree. Not only have I not reached my upper limit in terms of income, I’m doing something I enjoy doing. I derive great fulfillment from it. So, going to work for someone else doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m building an asset for myself and you can’t apply simple math to that. You must be looking at the long-term payoff to truly understand anyone’s decision to take the road less taken.
In life, there are many paths you can take. For me, self-employment was the right path.
In my 20s, I found myself unable to get excited about a job. At first, I thought there must be something wrong with me. Eventually, I figured out that employment wasn’t for me.
I happen to think self-employment is far more stable long-term than employment, but that’s just an opinion.
There may be another path for you, but for me, I’m in my element when I can earn on performance, surround myself with amazing people and set my own schedule.