Is being self-employed a good career choice?

Hands up if you believe you are better off being an employee for someone else than being self-employed?

What about the idea that being a long-term employee is better than having many jobs listed on your resume? Does that sound right to you?

Twenty years ago, these beliefs may have been true, but not anymore.

These concepts are almost redundant in today’s work climate. The reality is, most of us will change jobs every few years - often between industries and job types.

Those who stay in the same job for many years are less likely to be seen as loyal, dedicated employees. Instead, they can be disadvantaged when applying for new jobs and viewed as ‘stale’ or ‘resistant to change’.

As for being an employee versus being self-employed, many organisations don’t have the budget to employ large numbers of people full-time. It is often more practical and economical to hire people with specific skills on a non-permanent basis. These ‘contingency employees’ include freelancers, contractors, part-timers and temp workers.

‘Solopreneurs’ are a new breed of self-employed people. Sole traders (such as small retailers) and high-end entrepreneurs have always been around. However, today’s contingent employees tend to work for various employers on a task-by-task or ‘gig’ basis; giving rise to the term ‘the gig economy’. They are making use of evolving digital platforms and technology to work in ways that were not possible even 10 years ago.

Of course, there are still permanent and full-time jobs out there, but these are no longer the main option. According to the Intuit 2020 Report: Twenty trends that will shape the next decade:

“The number of contingent employees will increase worldwide. In the US alone, contingent workers will exceed 40 percent of the workforce by 2020.”

 (Intuit, October 2010, page 21)

Advantages of working for yourself

·      Flexibility – Choose your hours and location to suit yourself your family.
·      Being your own boss – You get to make the decisions.
·      Having unlimited income and career advancement potential - You don’t need to wait for a raise or promotion.
·      Choosing who you work with – This can include your clients, suppliers, and collaborative workers.
·      Developing a broad range of skills – You can learn all facets of your business and offer different services as needed.
·      Increasing your self-esteem – As your business grows, your belief in your own abilities increases.
·      Following your passion – For many, this is the main reason for becoming self-employed.

 “Your guidance counselor may have forgotten to tell you this, but the free enterprise system is wonderfully open to anyone who wishes to participate... You don’t have to look very far to see entrepreneurs who are young, old, educated, uneducated, immigrants, physically challenged, women, social activists, and introverts.”

Barbara Winter (Making a Living Without a Job)

Tips for becoming a solopreneur

Before you decide to work for yourself, consider your own personality. Do you have the traits to suit this form of work? Freelancers need to be organised, self-disciplined and versatile. While not having a boss to answer to sounds great, not everyone likes to work alone or do their own marketing and bookkeeping.

Do your homework. Is there a market for your skills and experience? Do you know where to look for opportunities and how to decide which ones are worth pursuing? It’s a good idea to research potential markets and address any gaps in your knowledge before you make any decisions.

Offer your services to those who could use your expertise – even if they are in seemingly unrelated industries. For example, marketing companies might need a psychologist to better understand the mindset of a new target market.

More top tips:

·      Become an expert in your field but have related skills you can draw on to cater to individual clients’ needs and changing industry trends.
·      Look for niches or gaps in the market that are not being provided for. Sometimes, being a small player means you can move into new spaces faster than your larger competitors.
·      Have multiple income streams to allow for quiet times
·      Build a strong support team around you, including family, friends, peers, and mentors.
·      Develop your brand through your own website, social media, and networking.

Being self-employed does have challenges; such as long hours, setbacks and failures. Try to learn from them and keep going. Above all, be realistic and don’t take on too much. You are only human. Keep focused on your goals and seek help when you need it.

If you feel you are ready to work for your self – go for it. There is a whole new world ready for you to explore.

 

Call to action…

To hear from someone who has jumped on the ride of self-employment and come up grinning, listen to The Mentor List’s podcast interview with Bonnie Power.

At age 27, Bonnie knew she didn’t want to continue working for large corporations with their tight structure and rules. She wanted to do things her own way, which included working from home while starting a family.

When working as a recruitment consultant in HR, Bonnie realised her heart was with the candidates, not the clients, so she started her business offering coaching for job interviews and assistance with resume writing. Today, Bonnie is a recognised expert in personal branding and lead generation through LinkedIn.

Focused on getting measurable results for her clients, Bonnie’s on a mission to help 10,000 entrepreneurs build their credibility so they are highly sought after within their industry. As CEO of Perfect Boom, Bonnie helps business owners build up their personal brands and leverage them to attract more clients and opportunities.

To hear Bonnie’s story, her thoughts on the gig economy plus her business and resume tips, listen to her podcast today.

 

Kick start your personal journey to success from the conversations David has with his inspirational guests on The Mentor List. www.mentorlist.com.au

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