Being your own boss is not the only answer

Full disclaimer: I am a freelancer who also blogs independently. I used to work for a corporation but then I quit in 2008, about a year before the recession hit.

Since the recession, people have been getting laid off from their jobs and starting blogs online in hopes of making money, or starting their own small business.

This is something I fully support. I think it’s wonderful that there’s an unexpected silver lining in this dark recession cloud for many entrepreneurs out there.

But I’m starting to feel slightly put off by the wave of rah-rah entrepreneurship that has been sweeping through the internet as of late.

Wait!

Before you start pelting apples and writing angry comments about how hypocritical I am being a freelancer myself, let me explain.

I feel as though starting your own business is being held up as the magic answer to all of your life’s problems and it isn’t.

Have debt?

No problem. Become an entrepreneur and make loads of cash to clear it.

Hate your job & feel like you aren’t in control?

No problem. Quit and start your own blog to roll in the advertising dough each year.

Hate working for THE MAN as a corporate cog?

You should. You should quit your corporate job, open a surfing school on some island, get dreads and live on a beach drinking coconut juice and spearing your own fish.

MONEY TROUBLES

Becoming your own boss means all the money goes into your pocket, but it also means you have to really take yourself out of your comfort zone.

Your money troubles will not go away automatically if you become a freelancer. Your income does not make as much of a difference as you think.

In the short-term, yes.

In the long-term, old habits die hard.

If you are an over-spender and under-saver, you will stay the same regardless of how much you earn unless you change.

You could earn $30,000 at work and $300,000 as a self-employed business owner, but if you don’t save a single dime of it you are basically in the same position as you were in before. Just with nicer toys.

You might only achieve in racking up a higher debt load because you feel like you earn so much more.

The risks as a freelancer are also greater:

  1. No steady paycheque
  2. Have to save a huge amount of money as your emergency fund (3 years not 3 months)
  3. Need much more discipline to handle your money (and taxes!!)

To become your own boss, you need to be even MORE in control of your expenses, savings and general money management because everything is so uncertain.

If you think money will roll in year after year without stopping, you will be sorely disappointed when you quit.

HATING YOUR JOB & WANTING TO BE “IN CONTROL” OF YOUR LIFE

Why can’t you gain control of your own life now? Why do you need to be self-employed?

What’s your definition of “control”?

Do you hate that you don’t know where your money goes? Then get a budget and start tracking your expenses.

Do you hate your job and your boss? Figure out what it is you hate and make the appropriate (career?) changes.

Do you feel useless and unwanted at your job? Figure out why you feel like that, and come up with a plan to change it.

These are all things you can do now.

There is really no excuse to NOT feel in control and independent in your life, and if you don’t.. then you need to figure out what is holding you back and why you feel that way.

But one thing I do know, is that being your own boss won’t change, it might even make it worse because you’re all alone.

If at the end, you realize that you REALLY love your job and the industry but you just hate working for a company, then explore the options of becoming a freelancer. <—- This? This was me and the reason why I wanted to become a freelancer.

HATE WORKING FOR THE MAN AS A CORPORATE COG?

I don’t really believe in “The Man”. Who’s to say that one day you cannot be “The (Wo)Man” who has other so-called ‘cogs’ working for you? You only feel like a cog if it isn’t the right fit and if you let yourself feel like one.

Quitting your job and starting your own blogging business or cupcake shoppe to fight consumerism and spending by giving everyone a big EFF YOU is all very sexy, but there are other options than to become your own boss.

If you hate being a “cog”, you can move to a different company, country, industry, city, department, role or position. Then you might actually feel like you’re doing something interesting and not feel like a “cog” any longer.

If you want to consume less…. you can just spend less and consume less in your daily life without becoming your own boss.

Shocking, I know!

You do not need to give up your car, go off the grid and live in the jungle with nothing but your thoughts and a laptop to blog.

You can make all of those changes now in your life.

Case in point: I had to talk a sibling down from quitting recently, because he felt like a cog. He wanted to quit, become a freelancer like us and never have to worry about all of this corporate crap.

It wasn’t until we worked through (4 hours worth) of soul and career searching that he finally realized that he DIDN’T want to become a freelancer, and quite frankly he only felt like a cog in that company because they treated him like a cog.

He felt like he was out of options and becoming a freelancer was the only way.

He actually loved his job and he liked working for a company in a very structured environment.

He gained a different perspective and is currently searching for a new job in a company that will appreciate his skills and abilities rather than treating him like crap.

The example I have for consumerism is myself. I wanted to consume less, and I gradually started to do so. I’m not saying that I don’t consume anything at all, and I am ALWAYS good and as green as a leaf… but I’m better than I was 3 years ago.

I’m comparing myself to myself, not to others.

SUMMARY

I guess what I’m trying to say is take a grain of salt with everything you read and hear.

I don’t want anyone to ever think that becoming a freelancer the way I did is the answer to all of your troubles.

I was told in business school that 90% of businesses fail, which means that for every 1 success story, there are 9 who didn’t make it.

Being on your own takes a lot out of you — the amount of work to set up your business, organize your business, do your books and taxes, handle negotiations and to be rejected at almost every turn.

You may also tend to start working longer hours than you ever did as an employee (although people tell me that it never felt like work when 60 hours flew by). (Full disclaimer: I work less as a freelancer than I did before I quit, and I LOVE overtime.)

The monetary rewards might also be slim at the beginning, and might end up never taking off the way you’ve hoped or that you’ve read about.

There are also no benefits or vacation time built into the job.

These are all things that are left out of these rah-rah discussions about becoming your own boss, because you cannot rely on other peoples’ histories to be what will happen to you too. It just may not work for you.

Sorry to be a total Debbie Downer, but I guess I just wanted to be the one small dissenting, cautious voice in the sea of excited cheers of people quitting to be their own bosses or living on coconut juice off the grid.

I just don’t want anyone to read that the only solution to fight consumerism or to get rid of your money woes is to become your own boss, because you can make those changes now.

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About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.