I was chatting with a business owner today who said there are only two advantages to being self-employed - you can go on holiday when you like and you can work with who you want to. That started me thinking - are there really only two advantages and no disadvantages? If that was the case why isn't everyone self-employed?
Working for yourself, whether you are a sole trader or a limited company with employees, is about far more than those two things. There are definite advantages but of course there are disadvantages too.
For me the advantages of having my own business are:
- My business is run in the way I want it to be run.
- I can make decisions instantly if I need to without reference to anyone else.
- I can choose the people I want to have in the team.
- The achievements and success of the business are directly attributable to the team and the work we all put in.
- Working with some very interesting people, many of whom have become friends, and being involved in the businesses they have started.
- Knowing we make a difference to our customers' businesses.
I don't think there are any disadvantages in running a business or being self-employed, but there are challenging situations which have to be overcome.
- Deadlines mean time off and holidays have to be planned around VAT returns and payroll. Everyone has a commitment to their customers.
- Selecting customers you want to work with sounds good but often its only some way down the line that you find out that they aren't as good to work with as you thought they would be.
- When things go wrong you alone are responsible for getting them sorted out and managing the frustrations of your team as well as yourself.
- Finding people who I want to be part of my team.
- Continual changes to legislation within our industry.
- Having enough time to do everything I want to do in my business.
Having been in business for 15 years I have never regretted that decision. It takes time in the beginning getting enough customers to realise you have a business and then making the leap to having an office and employing staff. But every step along the way gives a sense of achievement and each new challenging situation is something else learned. I will never be an entrepreneur but I do feel that I have achieved something in having a business which has grown and developed over the last 15 years.
Being self employed does not give you the freedom you think it will, nor customers that are everything you could wish for, but life is too short to not give it a go if you really want to. Only you can decide if you can enjoy and cope with the highs and lows of being your own boss.