5 Dangers Of Being Self Employed

I don’t think of it in these terms all that often, but overall I work from home for the most part. Every once in a while I go on the road for a few days to a few months, but in general I do most of my work from home. These days I’m not only looking for new clients and gigs, but I’m looking for a nice paying job that’ll let me work from home most of the time… if not all of the time.

former office desk

I’ve often encouraged people who are out of work to at least look into the possibility of working for themselves while they’re collecting unemployment. There are many people with great skills that could translate into a profession where they wouldn’t have to deal with weak managers or poor working conditions. It’s not easy to do, especially in today’s world, but when looking for something else to do to earn money, it’s something worth looking into.

However, there are realities to working for oneself; trust me on this one. I’d recommend that every person who’s even thinking about working for themselves start by reading “Before You Quit Your Job” by Robert Kiyosaki. Although I probably wouldn’t have changed a thing, I’d have learned some things to watch out for ahead of time, and maybe I’d have been a lot more successful in the long term.

If you’re not in the mood to read the book yet you’re in luck, because I’m going to talk about it. In essence, I have 5 things to tell you about working for yourself that you have to watch out for, or that you need to get more information about before you embark on your quest. Here we go:

1. You need to learn more about marketing.

I have to admit that marketing myself is the thing I’m the worst at, even after over 20 years of self employment; gasp! I can tell you what doesn’t work, but I can’t tell you what does work. The issue becomes what can one do to captivate their particular audience. For me, the main audience I’d love to reach right now doesn’t do social media, doesn’t do “out of the box” thinking, and doesn’t really do minorities telling them what to do; that’s just being honest. However, my long term career goal works well for each of these, which makes me work on finding a balance between the two.

2. Money will almost always be up and down.

I’ve had years that have put me in one of the highest tax brackets that barely kept me middle class. Then I’ve had years like 2009 where, because of the economy, I was scratching every week just to have enough money to pay bills and eat every once in a while. It takes a lot of discretion not to spend unwisely when it’s coming in like water and a lot of planning to make sure you have enough to spread around and last a while when things slow down.

3. Wasting time can be easy to do.

I feel like I waste time every day. I do, but when I look at it overall I also work more hours than a person working a 9-5 job does. Unless I’m working a project that someone else is paying me for I tend to work in spurts. That means that oftentimes business and pleasure get mixed together.

For instance, when I’m checking email, there’s always more business email than personal email these days, yet I tend to do both around the same time. Also, something I learned as a manager is that you have to have thinking time because that’s how you come up with ideas for things such as writing, creating stuff, or pretty much everything. That could be seen as wasting time by some, but I find it crucial, and I find that not enough people take those moments out of their schedule for it.

current office desk w/clutter

4. You can overwork yourself.

Hopefully things will change some as it starts to get warmer, but I normally sleep 3 1/2 to 6 hours a day (if I’m lucky), get a couple of 30 minute naps in here and there, and most of the rest of the time I sit at the computer working and thinking and wasting time. I walk around the house when I need to get away from the computer, going outside here and there. Still, I spend more than 10 hours a day sitting at the computer on a regular basis; no wonder my mind feels worn here and there.

An odd thing to mention is that when I was on the road at a consulting assignment, I had more time off than I did at home working on projects. I didn’t sleep any better because, for someone like me, it’s hard getting used to a new hotel bed every week, but I have more fun with meals since I can write them off. 🙂

I need to take more time off, although I know time off means I don’t get paid, but one’s mind just can’t stay sharp working that many hours. However, most of the people I know that work from home do the same thing. So, if you’re thinking about working for yourself, you need to know what’s coming and figure out how to get more rest if possible.

5. You spend a lot of time alone.

Whether on the road or working at home, you’ll tend to spend more time alone, even if you leave the house here and there. Even when my ex was here, I didn’t have many interactions with people during the day, and not as much with her either, unless I went to a meeting, networking, or was out of town.

Some people think self employed people just sit around drinking whatever in our pajamas or underwear all day and how nice it is, but there’s something to be said for engaging with other people more often, even if it’s only for minutes at a time. It’s something you’d have to be ready to get used to.

Did any of that scare you? If not, you might be ready to explore doing this type of thing for yourself. You won’t have to deal with weak or mean managers anymore, other employees who might drive you nuts, or office politics, but you might find that your worst and meanest critic is actually you. But if you can get paid well, it eases things dramatically. 😉

Are you ready?

12 thoughts on “5 Dangers Of Being Self Employed”

  1. I have spent most of the past 15 years working out of a home office.

    There were two points in time where I was in between things so you could say I was freelancing full time but I never tried to make that a career.

    Safe to say I understand the up and down of the finances a bit but very much understand the challenges of a home office.

    I learned early to build a routine for myself because without that life gets really chaotic.

    I understand ‘losing time’ because I get involved in stuff that might not be work related. I also understand working more hours because the laptop and work phone are always there.

    But I have found a good balance. I get things done and I find time for myself. It is not always easy and it requires discipline.

    There are times when the lack of in person interaction can get old but I am in a position in which I can adjust that as needed which works well for me.

    1. The only thing I never had a problem with was the lack of in person interaction… as in it didn’t bother me one bit. 🙂 If I was in the mood, then I’d schedule a lunch meeting with someone. I knew I had the ex coming home most of the time, so I figured that was enough at the time.

      The marketing part is the most difficult thing I have to deal with. I’m not close to being gregarious, and I’ve never mastered the art of talking to people I don’t know on the phone. Right now I’m at the point where, if I could land a well paying full time job, I wouldn’t mind it as much, especially if I can work remotely. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to stay independent until that day comes, if it does.

  2. Hey Mitch,

    While self-employment offers numerous advantages, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks involved. Your discussion on income volatility, lack of benefits, isolation, burnout, and financial responsibility highlighted crucial aspects that entrepreneurs should consider. It’s crucial to approach self-employment with careful planning and be prepared for the challenges it may present.

    1. Thanks Aadiv. It’s always an up and down type of business, and even someone like me, who’s been a consultant for 22 years, find it tough going more often than not.

  3. I sure remember (2) after the GFC. Self-employment was incredibly tough. And you are right about (1). I have done a lot less in recent years for a number of personal reasons and the lack of promotion (compared with, say, 20 years ago) is biting me on the ass right now.

      1. I know how you feel. So far this downturn feels tougher than the last one. But here it’s election year so folks tend to hold back on spending till they know the outcome. Hang in there, Mitch, you’re a talented guy plus what you have to offer is something potential clients understand.

  4. Hey Mitch,

    I totally agree with you.

    I am a blogger and full-time worker. I have been trying to generate income from various sources and I can relate how overwhelming these things are.

    There are so many things we need to work on.

    I can relate how being a solopreneur or self-employed is frustrating.

    I also read Robert’s cash flow quadrant and got to know about four quadrants and that’s why I am thinking about learning marketing, systems, and processes to set my business from the start so I don’t have to work on day-to-day tasks.

    Thanks for this helpful article on dangers of working alone or working from home.

    keep inspiring us!

    Yogesh Shinde

    1. Hi Yogesh. I read that cash flow quadrant book over a decade ago; I found it confusing in general, but there are always a couple of lessons that one might pick up. In general, there are really only 3 things one has to learn to give themselves a chance at self employment: networking, marketing and persistence. I’ve always felt that I was bad at all of them, but I got better at a certain point, especially on the networking part. Since I had to take time away to take care of my mother, I’m finding it hard to get back in the game at the present time, as all but one of my “good” networking connections from the past are gone; sigh… But I haven’t given up totally; that’s the persistence piece. Good luck with your endeavors!

  5. How are you mitch. Long time since I read your blog. Was going through my old Bookmarks and found it again.

    You are absolutely correct that being self employed has its pros and cons. Most days I don’t know where time flies by LOL. When you single handedly have to tackle marketing, development, brainstorming as well as managing the money matters then it all becomes a little bit too much. I have been playing with an idea to hire someone to manage the money side because I don’t think they would be able to help me in coding or anything like that. But it just doesn’t feels right. I always pick myself up and finish that task first so that I can come back to coding. Well long story short. I am still managing it somehow or the other. Lets see how it goes in future.

    Thanks once again.

    1. Hey Keral; it’s been a while. 🙂 The most frustrating part is trying to land a new gig when you don’t have great marketing skills; that’s me unfortunately. I love consulting in general, and I’ve had decades of success and fun, but at this juncture I’m thinking that landing a permanent job would reduce my stress level; what’s your thoughts on this?

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