SELF EMPLOYMENT – Should You Leave a Job to be Self Employed?

Posted by GuestPoster | Posted in Articles | Posted on 18-04-2012-05-2008


SELF EMPLOYMENT – Should You Leave a Job to be Self Employed?

Have you ever had a tough day, week or month at work, and found yourself looking in the mirror and asking yourself – “What am I doing with my life?”  If so, you’re officially a member of a rapidly expanding fraternity (and sorority!) of folks who are weighing the costs and benefits of their salaried job vs. self employment. Yes – the health, life, disability and retirement benefits of a salaried job are necessary, but ……..

I’m tracking with you on this issue. I’m an adjunct MBA instructor at a great small University in the evenings. I teach Organizational Behavior and some other, HR-related courses where we talk about – people and work. One of the discussions I always enjoy is on Hertzberg’s Two Factor Motivational Theory(a) – where we discuss the “tipping scale” of job satisfaction. I ask my students to visualize a a legal scale – with Job Content (what the actual duties of the job are) on one side, and Job Context (everything outside the actual job duties such as supervisor, culture, pay, etc.) on the other. Which side would you prefer the scale tip toward? Job Content – i.e. would you stay at a job with a terrible culture and a terrible boss if you really liked what you did? Or, would you stay at a job where your job duties were less than what you liked, but you had a great boss, benefits, friends, etc.? The point where that scale tips is different for all of us – but the essence is, wherever our preference falls, we won’t be sufficiently motivated outside of it.

OK – enough MBA stuff – but the concept is really applicable; what motivates you may not motivate me – and there’s no right or wrong side of that scale. It simply means we’re different. And because you’re different, you can be utterly de-motivated in an environment where I find fulfillment.  It also means it’s both of our responsibilities to land where we’re motivated, and – for many people- that’s NOT in a corporate environment – and that’s OK.

So – you’ve done some soul-searching and contemplating,  and you’re now looking into leaving the corporate grind and starting a self-employed business? Excellent! Let’s explore this a little further and look at a few, very basic questions you’ll need to answer as you move forward:

1.  Why be self-employed?  Is it the opportunity to start with a clean slate – doing what you really want to do? Flexibility of schedule? Your own financial goals? These are all great reasons that should keep you motivated when you hit bumps in the road. Bear in mind that self employment is hard work, and there are no free rides. If you understand that form the outset – you’ll be fine.

2.  Would you enjoy running all phases of your own business? Payroll, taxes, sales, shipping, etc? These are things that you typically don’t have to handle when working for somebody else – but they’re all part of the package if you want to be self employed. Nothing scary, just some facts – are you on board for that?

3.  How will you make money? Do you have a business model? If so, have you researched it thoroughly to determine who your TRUE customer will be? Who is your competition? What will the margin on your offering be? In essence, have you thoroughly researched all aspects of how to be self employed and make a good living at it? If not, you may want to research various aspects of online self-employment, where you’ll find multiple business models with low startup costs and tremendous potential for growth?!

4.  How about your benefits? Leaving your employer will mean you will soon be the proud owner of monthly health, disability and life insurance bills as well as a retirement account.  Have you accounted for those costs above and beyond your salary requirements? Everybody and anybody who is self-employed must account for these costs, as well. This is one reason why I recommend starting part-time – see the Health, Life, Disability Insurance and Retirement articles on this site for more inormation on those topics. These benefits are a big reason I recommend – if you possibly can to take some of the financial pressure off while you build your business!

5.  Is your significant other on board? Starting a self-employed – or any type of business – is going to place demands on your time; does your spouse and/or family understand and support that? Is there a way that you can involve them in building your business? Can they perform some research for you? Can they write some articles for a website? Any way that you can engage them and give them a stake in your vision will get them on your team and help them be for you – not against you.

6. Will you miss the socialization of a job? This may sound funny, but alot of people enjoy the comaraderie of the workplace. When I broke off to start a consultancy, I was somewhat surprised at how I had to adjust to working by myself – and I’m no social bug. I made the adjustment, but some people don’t. This consideration may not phase you, or it may be a rel concern for you – or you may be somewhere in between. Whatever the case, just be aware that working for or by yourself is a different dynamic than the workplace.

So, those are some very real considerations from somebody who is considering a self-employed vocation. You may not have thought of some of these issues – but that’s OK – it’s better to think about them now – when there’s no risk – so your expectations and goals are realistic.

Hope this helped!

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