Following up from Myths I thought I’d tease out some specific examples of how people TALK about being self-employed versus the reality of it.
I don’t know why people lie about what its really like… maybe because so many employed people make so many jokes about how useless and lazy we are… perhaps it’s a form of over-compensation.
Whatever the reason, we often feel under pressure to justify our choices. When you read the 5 myths , you will quickly realise that for entrepreneurs is often seems important to justify why they are NOT holding down a salaried job.
But as a new entrepreneur, you should also be wary of giving too much credence to what other entrepreneurs say. So here’s 5 typical entrepreneur fallacies you need to disabuse yourself of FAST.
1. It’s so relaxed
I guess there must be some forms of self-employment which guarantee a state of permanent relaxation. I just haven’t found one yet. It is often stressful. There is pressure to find and keep clients. Pressure to meet all your payments when your income is not as regular as your outgoings. Doing what you love is great, but it’s not a picnic, and you need to keep your eye on the fixed basics of doing business. Get too relaxed and it’ll come tumbling down around your ears.
2. I wish I had done this years ago
People who have gone solo later in life LOVE saying this. Except it’s complete rubbish. They didn’t go solo before because they couldn’t. They didn’t have the skills, the experience, the network or the courage. They needed time to build up all of that stuff so they could go solo successfully. Which is really, really good. For them. Not everyone does it that way. Not everyone succeeds the first time and going solo sooner is no guarantee of succeeding sooner. It is what it is. Live with it.
3. Everyone should be self employed
No they shouldn’t. Some people are just really not suited for it. Despite how many businesses seem to be pushing harder and harder to outsource and sub contract instead of employing people… not everyone should be self-employed. It’s hard work and requires a kind of focus and dedication and sheer bloody-mindedness that many people would prefer to reserve for their families, their hobbies, their sports or just about anything else except work. And that’s fine. There are allowed to be different people in the world.
4. You can do whatever you want
Oh man. Just laugh when you hear this. That’s not true. You’ve got bills to pay. You can’t just turn your nose up at work or clients because they’re not sexy enough, dangerous enough, rich enough. You’ve got to keep going, to keep the machine breathing. And sometime that means doing less than exciting work. Yes, over time, as you get better and more of a reputation you can become more picky… but only if and when you get that reputation. Not before.
5. I pay no tax!
There are only two kinds of people in this world who pay no tax: people not making enough money to qualify and crooks. Either way, do not listen to anyone who claims to be paying no tax. Sure, you can use various structures to pay less tax than you might as a salaried individual, but there is no NO Tax Nirvana in self-employed land. Make sure you know how and when to pay yours and just do it. Save your energy for doing good work rather.
The main point of being self-employed should be getting more freedom for yourself to do what you love. This means you need to approach it in a way that enables you to maintain that freedom for as long as possible.
Take it as it comes, work hard, pay your tax and try not to get distracted by the myths and outright lies. You may have already discovered this, but some people would really like to see you fail. Disappoint them, not yourself.