The Advantage of Self-Employment

Corporations or partnerships have an advantage. Several people work together nicely (at least they are supposed to). Corporate employees depend on one another, train one another, cover for one another. They’re in the business together, develop loyalty toward the widget/service, band together for the corporate cause. They’re team players.

Don’t misunderstand; I have a host of talented people who participate in my work. But in the end, I’m on my own.

They need to be. They’ll be replaced if they aren’t.

I’m self-employed. It’s a much different game. I’m not totally alone; I have my professional confidants, my friends, and my team of loyal contractors. But I don’t have a boss to ask for guidance, or coworkers to ask to cover for me, or employees to manage. I’m not told what to do or given manager training sessions to show me how to do it. When I make a mistake, the blame doesn’t get lost in a sea of employees. I’m the kid with the hatchet in his hand next to the chopped down tree, and I need to ‘fess up and own it.

I live with a major handicap: I’m on my own.

The advantage? I’m on my own. It’s nicer than you might think.

  • I don’t need to slow down and ask permission of my boss. The market is my boss, and I’m in the driver’s seat of innovation.
  • When an opportunity comes my way, I am able to jump in it. No need to submit a request or make a presentation to a committee or a board. I am able to take advantage of the opportunity. Or not.
  • I don’t have to manage a workforce or maul over job performance interviews. I simply hire contractors (for me, those are my writers and coaches) and focus on the job that needs to get done.
  • If I don’t know how to do something, I figure out how to do it – I go to a seminar, walk through a self-help video, buy the required software. Whatever it takes to get the job done.
  • I still make mistakes, just like any corporate employee. But my mistakes really aren’t mistakes. They’re growing experiences. I’m able to learn, adapt, and do better next time around.

I’m free, really. I’m self-reliant. Free to do what I love – then build it, work it, sell it. It’s risky (I can fail just as easily as succeed), but I believe it’s worth it.

Do you think so? I suspect there are many people who fear the idea of self-employment. I’m doubtful that the fears are justified. What’s your take on it? I’d love to hear from you.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • RickStevens

    Chris, I will wholeheartedly agree with you on the joy of being self-employed. I worked for a salary for 15 years before moving out into my own world of being an independent contractor. While the reasons were many for my move (and they came both from those in administration and my own personal desires), I have not regretted the decision for a single day.
    The advantages are many – I can control my own schedule (no need to tell me where to be, when to be there and what I should be doing anymore); I can somewhat control my own paycheck (want a raise?…do a better job of prospecting/planning/managing money) and I can decide whom I want as clients (couldn’t do that when it was the public classroom).
    One other advantage that it gives homeschooling parents is that our kids get to see that life isn’t just handed to them like a paycheck. They get to see the reality of work, that the workday never really ends, that you can be financially independent (in the “working for the man” sense) and yet still fully dependent on God’s provision. They get to see the true results of a solid work ethic (which don’t always get noticed in a salaried position) and they get to see how a Biblical Worldview gets to play itself out in work life.
    In all, it is 100% worth it to be doing what I love, doing it within legal guidelines (not bureaucratic ones) and being much more in control of how my worklife is spent. Do I miss some of the folks that I used to see on a daily basis? Yes. Do I miss being told when to show up, what classes to teach, what content would be included and excluded, how to interact with the students, how much of my walls could be covered with posters (fire code only allows 10%…oops), what time to eat lunch, etc., etc., etc.? The answer to that is a resounding “NO!”

    • I’m grinning ear-to-ear reading this, Rick. You totally get it! I’d love to grab a cup of Jo with you…we can share our self-employment adventures with each other.

  • Trish Zavala

    Chris, This reminded me of my grandson’s T-shirt: “Teamwork” in large letters and under it a little smaller: “A group of people who do what I say.” :):):) In business for yourself is the way to go. (I may not have the T-shirt quoted exactly but you get the idea.)

    • Ha! Great reminder, Trish. Some think the workplace promotion of “teamwork” is a sham. I get what it means to get along, work together, etc. But at the expense of talent and giftedness? That’s when it is just plain wrong.

  • This is my first year getting my feet (toes, really) wet with being self-employed. The most intimidating part for me is taxes. I want to be self-employed for all of the reason you listed, but it’s so much easier just turning in a W-2 each year! We’ll be ending the year with a loss (which we expected), and I have lots of big plans for ramping things up next year, which will make taxes more difficult. I’m steeling myself for it all. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • You raise a very good concern in self-employment: taxes. You’re right; the 2000-pg tax code scares people off. I have been blessed to be hunting buddy with my accountant, and he helps me quite a bit. I’ll talk with him and maybe post some on taxes & self-employment. Thanks Anjanette!

  • Bob Rose

    I love reading your posts, Mr. Jeub!

    • And I love you reading my posts, Bob! =)

  • Doug Marvel

    First, a business in not there to make us happy, provide us freedom or become an outlet for our creativity, these are secondary attributes. A business is there to provide for our families (money). You have been out on your own for 8-9 yrs now and you are living at the poverty level? A couple thoughts…..we are told many times that good works produce fruit, yet your businesses are struggling. I own two businesses that have pay me over 100k each. If I were in your shoes, I would make drastic changes due to a struggling business and I would spend less time blogging on what I know about business. If you knew a lot about about business, you would run successful businesses. Simple. Logical. I would also seek out successful businessmen and basically say, “my businesses are struggling (failing), how can I change.”

    • Your comment is a really good one, Doug. I want to give this a long response, a full post. Real quick, just to set the record straight: I’m not in poverty. Not rich, but not poor either.

  • kate

    I love being an entrepreneur and buisness owner. There are positives and negatives, but at the end of the day I think the positives outweigh the negatives. I started my company in college and started working at it full time when I graduated. It has taken 3 years of hard work and sleepless nights to finally get my company to where I can make my own schedule and relax a little. For myself, I think the best things about taking a risk is that you learn to trust God and you learn to save money. Being an entrepreneur, my pay varies month by month and I know I need to save because I am taking a risk.