I’ve been self-employed for nearly five years now. Of course it definitely has its perks (like our cats being our colleagues), but there are a ton of misconceptions about what it’s like to work for yourself. Let’s tackle ten of the common ones I get asked about most often.
You don’t get to wear pajamas every day. Let’s address the notion I get questions about more than anything else. Yes, I do get to wear pajamas a lot, but it’s definitely not every day. At the very least I don’t have to put on business attire every day, so there’s that.
There’s still a set schedule, even if you’re the one making it. When I first started working for myself I had this idea in my head that I’d wake up well-rested and excited to tackle whatever the day had in store for me. It’s more like waking up still half asleep and quickly reaching for the mile long to do list. The only way we’ve found to be successful working at home is to have a set schedule, rather than letting the day take us where it may.
There are still meetings. Meetings were top on the list of things I couldn’t wait to stop doing when I left the traditional workforce. Sadly they’re still just as much of a thing when you’re self employed. We meet people constantly for the promotional business as well as to build relationships and collaborations for the stationery side of things.
You end up working more because you work where you also play. I can’t tell you how many weekdays end with us still at our computers only breaking to eat a quick meal (at our desk) before getting back to work. I do miss having a place where I could leave work behind more or less.
People think you have free time, all the time. So often someone will have the day off and think I’m free to spend the day hanging out with them. I wish. If I do decide to take the day off as well, I still have to make up that work time in the evenings or over the weekend. Just because I’m at home, doesn’t necessarily mean I can just drop everything.
Deadlines are still very much a thing. Honestly I think they’re even worse now that I work for myself. Before I had a team of people helping me reach a deadline, but now it’s usually just me. Sure I’m also the one that makes the deadlines, but my company and my audience are relying on me to hit that deadline. The pressure feels more intense now than ever before.
Finances are always a concern because they very often rely solely on you. If you work for a larger corporation, you very rarely worry about if you’re going to get paid that month. When you work for yourself, that question pops into your head more often than you would think.
There are seriously dry spells that you wouldn’t really consider. Planner supplies don’t sell well from now until about May. So finances are always top of mind this time of year as we try to navigate the drought.
It becomes lonely once the novelty of not having to work with other people wears off. At first I loved not having to make small talk in the break room, but now I’m starved for human interaction with someone other than my husband. Whenever I hang out with friends I feel like I haven’t seen another person’s face for years and word vomit all over them.
The threat of competition is real and it’s everywhere. Sure this also exists in regular 9-5 jobs, but when you’re self employed, it’s all consuming. Because being better than the competition means whether or not you get to pay yourself this month. Even when you try to do your own thing, it’s nearly impossible to ignore what other people in your field are doing.
Despite all of these things, I still would choose this life over and over again. Self-employment definitely has it’s upside, but there are a ton of misconceptions out there about the glamour of working from home. Alex has this great metaphor about self-employment. He says it’s like smoking. You’d never recommend to anyone else to start doing it, but you’re completely addicted.