Before you make the leap and plunge in headfirst to the world of self-employment, you need to remember one thing. This is more of a semantic point than anything, but I believe that it requires some careful consideration.
Of the two words ‘self’ and ‘employment’ one is more important than the other. It’s not necessarily the one that you’d imagine. For me, the key word is self. Through years of agonising about giving up working for ‘the man’ to go self-employed, I worried about what I would be able to do to facilitate the leap. This is a perfectly rational, understandable set of concerns. But looking back from where I am now, I’d say that I was missing the point somewhat. So long as you recognise and understand that it’s all down to you it perhaps doesn’t matter so much what you actually do. Now of course it’s much preferable to be doing something that you like and enjoy doing – else why leave employment? – but ultimately it’s about understanding that you are in charge now. You are the boss. You stand or fall purely on your own abilities and competences and ultimately your own actions, or lack thereof.
It’s interesting to think a bit more deeply on the employer/employee relationship. Once you become self-employed, you take on both roles. You may have staff, or you may be working on your own. For a while, let’s ignore the situation where you have employees and just consider the situation when employer and employee are the same person, i.e. you.
Whatever you can get away with not doing in your current employment (and let’s face it, we all tried to get away with something when we were working for the man), you are answerable to yourself now, so any ickle white lies you tell are lies told to yourself, and tasks not carried out with 100% effort, concentration, commitment, or whatever will end up costing you reputation, goodwill and eventually money. Sagging off at 3.30 – 4 o’clock on a Friday afternoon is a well and good when you’re working for somebody else, but when you are your own boss, you cannot afford to do this unless you have planned it. By this, I mean that as a self-employed person, your working hours are significantly altered. Perhaps not to the extent of being 24/7, but certainly, you will need to make time sacrifices. I quite often find myself out and about in my line of business in the evenings. But then, I’ve been able to do the school run at both ends of the day, and stop EVERYTHING (except Radio 2) to make pizza (from scratch, with fat and flour in a bowl) on Friday afternoon, so it’s quid pro quo.
This article, written by me, has previously been published on my former on-line incarnation, www.thesimonlewis.co.uk.