10 reasons to become self-employed

by Tiggered

Self-employment is becoming more and more popular these days. Why would you want to be your own boss? Here are ten attempts to answer this question.

Moving from a payroll job to self-employment is a big change. It requires a lot of courage, creative ideas and - yes, that too - effort. Is it worth it? Why would anyone consider leaving the safety of nine-to-five for the unknown seas of being your own boss?

Well, I could probably give you a hundred of reasons why, but for this article I'll focus on ten most important things that made me switch from a 'proper' job to the big adventure of employing (and working for!) myself.

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1. Once you become self-employed, you can kiss your alarm clock goodbye

alarm clockOr smash it against a wall.  Throw it off the top of a very high building.  Even jump on it until it becomes a pile of metal scrap.  It may sound a bit flippant, but I don't care - the truth is that NOT getting up in the morning is one of the most ecstatically joyous aspects of being my own boss.  My body was simply not created to be awake at 7 am.  It protests, in loud and pain-causing way.  Would any employer care?  Only one - me.  I am my employer and I care very much. 

Scientists say that humanity is divided into 'larks' and 'owls'.  You probably already know this, but just in case you don't, let me explain:  'larks' get up early in the morning and remain most active during the daylight hours while 'owls' wake up late and work most efficiently when the 'larks' are already fast asleep.  In most countries office hours hover around 9-5 period.  Being an 'owl' forced to live against his or her natural body clock is not only unpleasant, it is unhealthy. 

As a self-employed person you get to choose your working hours.  If you're a lark - fine, rise with the Sun and shine.  If you're an owl, you can stay in your tree hole as long as you like and wake up when your body is ready for action, not when the wailing alarm clock shatters your rest.  YOU know best when you work best and YOU decide what your working hours are.

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2. You are the boss - you choose the ethics of your business

Here's another important reason to go self-employed.  You can finally stop bull#$%@ing people. 

Companies are all about the money.  Not just the 'let's make profit' money, but the 'let's squeeze the last penny out of this enterprise by any means necessary' money as well.  Quality is often compromised, work is not adequately rewarded, customers are lied to, you know the drill.  If you don't mind - well, keep the same principles in your own business and good luck to you.Ethical business

If working for an unethical establishment bothers you, here's some good news:  as a self-employed person, you make the decision about ethics of your work.  You are the ultimate quality control unit, you are the customer service, you decide whether you genuinely want to provide the best possible product for the fair price or whether you just want to cheat people out of their money. 

If you want to work for an ethical business, you finely can:  simply make your business ethical. 

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3. When you become self-employed, you can build your business around your life, not the other way round

Being self-employed means that you build your business so that it fits your life, instead of squeezingwhen you're self-employed your life comes first your life around the whims of your employer.  You make all the decisions.  You don't need to ask anyone whether you can take a day off.  You choose how many hours a week you need to work.  You decide what to wear, how to style your hair, when to shave.  It's up to you whether you set up a fancy office or work from the privacy of your own home.  You decide how often you need to meet with people and how you want to interact with them.  Basically - your life comes first, and you shape your business so that it fits it. 

Obviously, there are some rules.  The basic one: you don't get paid for the work you don't do.  Then again - YOU decide how much is enough.  If working ten hours a week allows you to meet your financial obligations, you don't need to work more because your boss says so.  You are the boss.

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4. As a self-employed, you choose what your work looks like

as a self employed you choose what to doYou're the boss, you make all the decisions. 

If you have any sense, you will choose something you enjoy doing to be your business.  This way, work becomes play, and this is the very best you can ask of your professional life.

You decide which ideas to develop and which to flush down the drain.  You choose how much time to spend on each project.  If you feel like solitude, do paperwork (and you don't even have to get out of your pyjamas for that).  If you're in mood for people, get out there and chat up potential customers.  If you prefer working according to an organised timetable, write a to-do list for each day, build a routine.  If you don't...  don't!  It's all up to you!

Warning:  the responsibility is also yours.  It's not as scary as it sounds, just remember this and don't get too wild :)

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5. When you are your own boss, no one tells you off

when you're self-employed no one tells you offBeing a boss requires elaborate manipulations - you have to use just the right combination of carrot and stick to keep your employee motivated and working to the utmost of his or her ability.

Being an employee requires being manipulated and subjected to the carrot/stick treatment mentioned above. 

Being a self-employed person frees you from this tiring game, for good.  You have no idea how much personal energy you'd be saving this way. 

Oh, if you mess something up in your own business, you'll still have to make good or live with the consequences, but at least no one will shout at you or try to humiliate you.  I call it a much better deal.

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6. Once you become self-employed, you choose who to work with

lightningI wonder how many nervous breakdowns and heart attacks could be avoided by eliminating toxic people from work environments?

What do you do when your co-worker happens to be a venomous witch straight from hell?  Well, if you work for somebody else, you can live with her nastiness and pray for a lightning to strike her down and this is pretty much the total of your choices.

If you're self-employed, you do not start doing business with witches in the first place.  If you do not like working with someone, you don't, end of story.

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7. When you're self-employed your work is diversified

diversityThis one is a bit of a double-edged sword.  Keeping a business afloat requires many different jobs to be done - accounts, advertising, planning, researching, customer service, visual design, whatever is applicable in your line of work.  If you don't like some of those jobs, you might sweat a little until you can afford to employ someone to do them for you. 

On the other hand, you're hardly ever bored.  If you're sick of one task, you simply switch to another - ultimately, they all need to be done, sooner or later. 

You don't even have to ask anyone's permission :)

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8. If you are your own boss, you don't have to pretend that you're working

bubble bathSome of the most ridiculous aspects of being employed are the moments when there is not really any work to be done, but you still have to pretend you're working, because sitting with your feet up and reading a book in your paid time simply won't do.  Bill Hicks summed it up perfectly:


- Why don't you pretend that you're working?

- Oh yeah?  Why don't YOU pretend that I'm working?


This phenomenon was one of the things that irked me most during my work-on-payroll years.  Guess what, a self-employed person does not need to engage in the absolutely useless pastime of 'pretending to work'.  If you have a job to do, you do it.  If there's nothing to be done - you take a bubble bath.  There's no boss whose ego needs to be buttered up. 

If you don't feel like working at any particular moment but you simply have to do the job at hand, well - you will still have to do the job, but you can be as whiny about it as you wish.  There's no need to pretend you're enthusiastic about it. 

If you happen to work from home (or if you run a one-man office), you can even use some very bad language to express your dissatisfaction and no one will bat an eyelid. 

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9. When you run your own business you can keep your overheads at minimum

become self-employed avoid overheadsDo you have any idea what percentage of each of your purchases reflects the actual value of the product and what are the overheads?  I think about it each time I see a billboard or mean a smiling company representative.  Ultimately, it's the customer who pays for them and when I happen to be a customer, I'm not happy to see my money abused in this way. 

If you are self-employed, you have the power to reduce the overheads significantly.  Just to clarify, here are some examples of overheads and ways of eliminating them:


- taxes - no escaping those, unfortunately

- advertising - if you do not employ Claudia Schiffer to promote your product, your customers will not have to pay her fee

- wages and social insurance payments for the employees - as a customer, I'm not entirely happy to sponsor the paychecks of ladies whose only duty is making coffee and smiling.  As a small business owner, I buy only the absolutely necessary services

expenditure for running an office - not applicable if you work from home (what a wonderful opportunity to save your customers some unnecessary expenditure!)


Possibilities are endless.  Gratitude of your customers - guaranteed.

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10. When you become self-employed you do not make someone else rich with your work

paid peanutsAt first sight it might sound a bit malicious, and maybe to a degree it is, but let me explain before you judge.

I'm outraged by the way most corporate businesses organise their payment structure.  Flashy CEOs and managers get the huge paycheck for performing 'representative duties' and telling others what to do while people who do the actual work are paid peanuts.  This is not cooperation, this is abuse and I refuse to allow to be treated this way. 

As a self-employed person you and only you get paid for the work you do.  As fair as it gets.

One more benefit comes to mind - if you work for yourself, you genuinely care for what you do.  If you're smart, you'd be doing something you're passionate about anyway, but there's more.

How can you expect an employee to care for a business that is not his or hers?  Why on Earth should a person strive to make the boss rich?

Things look different when you are the boss.  If you do shoddy work, you get a miserable paycheck and you have no one to blame it on - can you think of a better motivation to excel?

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Would you like to become self-employed?

Updated: 04/08/2013, Tiggered
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Tiggered on 02/11/2014

A great way to make the transition between 'proper' job and doing your own thing. Get the money with the pressure off :)

Thank you for your comments, they are valuable - you're covering a lot of ground I left unexplored.

frankbeswick on 02/11/2014

When I was adding to my self-employed income by a little part time work at a college, I was the only member of my department, so there was no promotion race or opportunities for me. I was told "People sit in the staff room and talk about promotion, and when the door opens they stop as they don't know who is coming in. But when they see it is you they relax, because you are not in the promotion race and you are a threat to no one. " That's what's great about self-employment, there is no rat race.

What I did for many years was to be primarily self employed, but add some occasional employment on part time and short term contracts. I am going to do a little employment on a part time basis in summer as an exam invigilator. Nice, quiet work on a casual basis that goes well with self employment.

Tiggered on 02/11/2014

Fingers crossed for you! Thanks

Tiggered on 02/11/2014

Yes, one of the most bitter things I had learned in my employment years was that 'meritocracy' is a myth. People rise up because they know people, because they have money or because they can destroy competition, not because they deserve it.

PS. Congratulations! So glad to hear of your success!

Tiggered on 02/11/2014

I hope they are properly jealous now :) I know what you're saying, though. On the other hand, aren't we lucky that some people crave 'proper' structure to their professional lives? Somebody needs to do all the boring jobs :) *half-joking here, but only half*

Mira on 02/11/2014

This is a nice page. I so agree with everything you say. Hope to be self-employed one day. Soon.

frankbeswick on 02/11/2014

My experience of working in the system was that promotion went to the management's mates. That is one reason why I left. As a self-employed person I survive on my own merits, rather than being stifled by others. My tution business has been running since 1988 and has never failed to yield a profit. That's self-employment for you.

frankbeswick on 02/11/2014

When I went self-employed in 1991 my very conventional in-laws equated it with unemployment. One day I was at home. I had a total of six hundred exam papers to mark [not all in one day] an Advanced level correspondence test to check and comment on, and there were two hours of private tution in the evening to come. My back was straining through being too long at my desk, when an inlaw came to the door. When I answered she said, "Oh, you are not working today!" Over time they have come to see it my way.

Tiggered on 02/10/2014

I'm with you :) Once you get the taste of freedom, it's difficult to let go:)

CountrySunshine on 02/10/2014

I've been self employed since 1994 and absolutely love it! I can't imagine having a boss or regular business hours at this point in my life.

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