Over the Thanksgiving holiday I’ve been thankful for many things, especially my jobless state, the ability I have to spend lots of time with my family without having to rush back to work & a future that looks so bright to me.
During the holidays I’ve also heard my fair share of ‘times are tough’ stories and people lamenting their lack of work, underemployment and feelings of fear because of financial pressures. I listen and feel bad, I often try to help by explaining ‘oh you could do this and start your own business’ but too many people nod yes, but in their hearts know they’ll never take the plunge.
So for all of those that think they can’t do it or are scared of the ‘what ifs’ of working for yourself, I decided I’d put together a post and list the 21 reasons you should work for yourself. My hope is to point people to this post in the future when they ho-hum around entrepreneurship in favor of just complaining about the man. I also hope that those of you who are on the path to freedom through producing (not consuming) will be encouraged and invigorated by reviewing the 21 reasons your life is going to rock.
21 Reasons You Should Work for Yourself
- You set your own number and don’t stop till you get there. In a traditional job you can guesstimate what you’ll make over 2,5 or 20 years – but you never know for sure. Yes, in an ideal world you could make $50,000 a year as a mid level manager, but you could also get fired or your company could go under. You can work 80 hours a week for 10 years and if you saved every penny and didn’t spend anything you may have 5 million in the bank – but you also may be divorced, have kids that hate you and go to bed with a tallboy every night. If you work for yourself you set your own number, you say “I want to make $5,000 a month to be happy” or you say “$10,000,000 in a lump sum is what i need to do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want… for the rest of my life”. Don’t be a slave to other peoples numbers, set your own and then don’t stop till you get there.
- Your schedule works for you, not the other way around. Some people are ridiculously productive working 2 hours a day, others need to put in 20 hours a week, but few people operate at their peak productivity 40 hours a week with no breaks, working for someone else. A vast majority of that time is wasted while you IM about how much you hate your boss or stare at the wall wishing for a quick death by instant coffee. Working for someone else means your schedule isn’t your own. You have to meet deadlines and do things that don’t contribute to your ultimate success and don’t allow you to be the best you can be. Work for yourself and every minute you spend on your business will be one you want to maximize, because you’re not getting anything out of bs-ing for two hours – instead your schedule is more of a wham, bam, thank you mam type of deal – where you work until you don’t need to do anymore and then have the rest of the day to do whatever you like.
- You can be yourself. Does dancing naked inspire you? Does lying on the floor, doing breathing exercises help you get into the zone? Could you do either of these forms of self expression & release in a typical work environment? No… and please don’t try! But when you work for yourself you can do as you please, you can go to work in your skivvies and hold a board meeting with your stuffed animals if that helps you think. Working for yourself allows you the beautiful freedom of being yourself and once you do it for a while you’ll know you could never go back to the shackles of working for someone else. Leo from Zen Habits talks about how mind clearing and inspirational walking a few miles a day can be, try asking your boss for permission to leave for a few hours a day to exercise & then come back, put in your two weeks notice & start your own business.
- You get more than one paycheck. I make money through social media consulting, coaching, finding people virtual assistants and through affiliates. I love this varied income stream because I make money throughout the month, not just every two weeks and the amount always varies. This helps me live the life I want and also contributes to me feeling very secure. I know that no matter what happens, if my business goes under or tragedy strikes, I can always make money through one of my income streams and I can always build new ones if necessary. I love reading Pat Flynn’s income reports, he explains how he makes 5 figures a month through various revenue streams and proves that paying yourself is what helps you grow rich, not skimping on Starbucks’ lattes and cutting coupons.
- You can work anywhere. I work at coffee shops, on trains, planes, subways (both the chain restaurant and the thing that takes you from place to place). I work in bed sometimes, while traveling and occasionally in bars (hey, nothing beats writing with a buzz!). When you work for yourself you aren’t constrained to a physical office and often you can operate your business anywhere on the globe with an internet connection and laptop. My friend Colin travels the world while building an awesome business empire and his constant traveling only makes him more productive and creative, not less.
- You can do what you love. There is a lot of arguing between whether you should start a business around passion or around goals, my friend MJ talks about it at length in his book The Millionaire Fastlane… but I think overall what matters is going towards something you love. If you love the idea of living on Lake Como after you’ve sold your business for $25 million, then go for that. If you absolutely love green living and want to change the world by helping people save the environment, go for that. Do what you love whether it’s money, people or hobbies… if you always go towards what your passionate about you’ll consistently have the energy to succeed when others are failing.
- You’re the life of the party. Whenever I go out the inevitable ‘what do you do’ question comes up. Most people have to say boring things like “banker”, “real estate” or “open heart surgeon”… but I get to say (with a smug smile on my face) “I’m an entrepreneur!”. This always takes the cake and people will pepper you with questions on how you started, how your business is doing and how they can get out of their job and work for themselves. Also you often get free drinks out of the ordeal as people feed you liquor in return for ‘start your own business’ advice.
- You can live an unconventional lifestyle. When you work for yourself you’re not bound by typical constraints and this gives you the freedom to live a funky lifestyle. Maybe you get your best work done at night, or maybe you are the most alive when you’re kite boarding like bad ass business person & world record holder Tammy Camp. So think about what kind of life will make you the most happy & then go for it, be as outrageous as possible – the best business people I know live some of the most extraordinary lives.
- You can find inspiration anywhere. Because I work for myself I’m constantly on the look out for inspiration. Having a ‘breakthrough’ day can mean I try a new marketing strategy that will double or triple my income in the next 6 months and inspiration is key to reaching new heights in business. Since I don’t have a boss breathing down my neck I search for inspiration on trains, in parks, at the movies and in books at all hours of the day. Sometimes I dedicate a whole day to seeking inspiration from unusual places and then applying what I’ve learned to my business. Inspiration isn’t found under fluorescent lights or behind computers, its found by being out in the world & opening your mind through experiencing new things.
- You can change early and often. When you work for yourself you have a flexibility few possess. You can quickly change paths or switch routes on your way to achieving your dreams without having to cut through red tape or ask permission. Since I started in entrepreneurship at 19 I’ve probably gone through 10 businesses and 1000 ideas before really striking on the one (outsourcing) that I know is my calling. Being able to change early & often as you pursue your dreams will allow you to trounce your competition and keep up with companies who are 100 times bigger than you.
- You can yell at your boss. I do it all the time. I’m constantly getting into fisticuffs with my employer but it’s great because at the end we both realize where we went wrong and have put ourselves and the business back on the right track. Many days I’ll look in the mirror and listen to my boss tell me to pull it together, she’s a little mean and sometimes calls me a slob when I go to work in my pj’s – but for the most part her tough love forces me to be productive. Also knowing that me and my boss are spending the rest of our lives together makes me try harder to please her and even if we get into a tiff we always make up and get back to work with a new found vigor.
- You can be frugal. Often big businesses let millions slip through the cracks in expenses that are unnecessary and frivolous, but when you are calling the shots you can be sure to pinch pennies where it matters and spend on what’s important (instead of the opposite approach). Being frugal and bootstrapping until it hurts is foreign to most businesses, but it’s a lesson start ups know well. That’s why companies can go from $400 bucks in the bank, working out of a basement, to a billion dollar valuation in a few short years. Start ups who live on beans and rice and only spend money on what’s important thrive while old school business models die.
- You can build your dream team. Through outsourcing and hiring freelancers you can build a dream team of savvy experts that will allow your business to expand exponentially. You don’t have the freedom to do this working for someone else and even if you did you wouldn’t have final say in what projects they go after and how to best apply their skills. When you work for yourself you know you’re the main person who benefits from your businesses success, so you’ll be sure to hire a team that’s excellent and manage them well.
- You can live where you please. Very much like working where you want, when you are an entrepreneur you can usually live where you want as well. Often it’s cheaper to start a business in Chile or Thailand (especially online) and if you’re getting paid in USD or Euros your quality of living will skyrocket as well.
- You don’t have to suffer fools. One of my biggest gripes when I worked for other people (serving, tending bar and at night clubs – **shudder**) was suffering fools. I have never worked at a place where I thought ‘this is efficient’, instead I had to deal with idiots who had been stuck in their ways for 15 years and refused to listen to potentially business saving advice. Some of us have good business minds and it is intolerable to put up with people who don’t, especially those who are in positions above you. You’ll just waste your breath, your time and infuriate yourself trying to explain a better way. Even if they did listen, you’re good sense will help line their pockets not yours – so if this sounds familiar, do yourself a favor and stop making other people rich.
- You can do whatever the flip you please. It’s true, when you are your own boss you can really do whatever you want. I mean if you do whatever too much and don’t work enough you’ll go broke and end up sleeping on couches – but if you balance total freedom with dogged hard work you’ll lead quite an enjoyable life. I often leave work in the middle of the day and go see a movie, take a walk or people watch – it helps me become more productive when I get back and it’s a great stress release to walk out of the ‘office’ whenever ya please.
- You can be healthy & hot. Working in an office 8 hours a day is NOT good for you! Nasty lighting, ugly desks and hideous chairs don’t help your lumbar and they don’t help your psyche! When you work for yourself you can exercise more and spend more time feeling and looking good. This in turn makes your business better because it gives you, the owner, more self confidence and pizazz! I’m taking up running, yoga and dance shortly & it’s all possible because of my flexible schedule and awesome work routine. Being healthy and hot may not seem like it goes hand in hand with a good business, but try it for a few weeks and see if you don’t notice an important in both your personal and work life!
- You can strive for your dreams. Have you always wanted to own a private jet, or spend 10 years helping kids in Africa lead better lives? With a traditional job you won’t be retired until 65 and then only .01% will have the funds to chase their dreams and make an impact on the world. Don’t wait till you’re ‘retired’ to strive for your dreams, instead make an impact today and begin projects that will leave a legacy while you work for yourself.
- You can be there for your family. I don’t personally have a family yet (Well I mean I have my family, but not a family I married/gave birth to/adopted), but I know that if I did I’d want to have a lot of flexibility when it came to spending time with them. If you work for yourself you can arrange your work day to flatter your family time, not to trump it. Too many times people miss their kids growing up, neglect their significant others and lose out on one of the best parts of life because of incessant work – don’t be ‘that guy/gal’ instead create a lifestyle that allows you to focus on what’s important.
- It’s easier than you think. You can start a business for under $100 in this day and age, just grab a URL, brainstorm a business idea & throw up a website. You can test your assumptions and only go with what seems like it has a bright future, while you still work for the man and keep ‘safe’. Or you can be like me and take a plunge, forcing yourself to succeed by giving yourself no options if you fail. Starting a business that’ll change your life may seem daunting, but in reality it’s not as hard as working 40 years for someone else.
- You’ll be forced to be creative. When you work for yourself you can’t just ‘coast’ on the highway of life, which I think is an excellent thing. Instead you have to constantly stay on top of things, making sure your business and life doesn’t go off the rails. This adds to excitement and fulfillment in ones life as you have a solid purpose and often get great satisfaction from the work you do. Don’t allow yourself to be part of the mainstream anymore, instead start working for yourself and get scrappy, get creative and build something you’ll be proud of in years to come.
I hope this has convinced you that it’s time to start working for yourself, recession or no recession. There has never been a better time to start a business since most people are scared and clinging onto safety harder than ever. This gives you the perfect opportunity to soar to new heights as the majority of cry babies complain about their life but refuse to do anything to change it.
Did I miss anything? Do you have a few reasons of your own why people should work for themselves? If so please let me know below and shout out if you’ve already kicked ‘the man’ to the curb and are pursuing your dreams by working for yourself.