Working for yourself can be a rewarding and exciting alternative to a traditional office job. After all, running your own business enables complete control, flexible scheduling and creative freedom. Before you jump ship at your current company, however, take time to learn about the realities of going it alone, and ensure that the benefits are worth the risks and realities.
Clear idea and efficient vision
If you are currently working for a company, look out for red flags that indicate the need for change. Do you struggle with bureaucracy and corporate policy? Is your employer ignoring your suggestions to make the process smarter and more efficient? Do you have a big idea that can fill a need in the market? Working for yourself is an opportunity to execute your vision or big idea unhindered by the red tape and frustrating rules of a corporation. Keep in mind that a great idea is useless if it doesn’t have the legs to succeed in the market. Before you pursue a new business, run the numbers and investigate the market to ensure that your business is viable and potentially profitable.
Tolerance for risk
Working for yourself brings with it an inherent level of risk particularly in the first few years. Without the stability of an established company everything falls to you from securing initial start-up costs to paying for marketing. What’s more, few businesses turn a profit right out of the gate. Start by determining whether or not your finances can tolerate the risk. Can you afford to go one or more months without cash flow? Are you willing to make sacrifices in lifestyle and long-term financial goals to accommodate potentially low profits in the first year? If you answer no to either of those questions, now might not be the right time to start working for yourself. If you’re not worried about job insecurity and you have a financial cushion, it’s safe to move forward.
Necessary work-life sacrifices
Many independent workers strike out on their own with dreams of setting their own schedules and achieving a better work/life balance. A new business requires constant attention, however, and as the owner, you alone are responsible. As a result, working for yourself can result in a blurred boundary between professional and personal activities. You might find yourself answering emails during family dinners, working late into the evening or spending weekends dealing with a production crisis. This process can be thrilling and inspiring, particularly when you’re passionate about the product or service, but it can be difficult to balance with demanding personal or family commitments. If this fluid structure is appealing or if you have the discipline to draw firm boundaries, working on your own can be a rewarding choice.
Starting a business is risky and rewarding. By proceeding with caution and understanding the practicalities of working for yourself, you can avoid common pitfalls and increase your chances of success.