Why I have to work for myself
There are any number of reasons that people would choose working for themselves over traditional employment. Many might think that the most common reason might be to earn more money. While earning more certainly is a possibility with self employment, I suspect that for most of us, that's not the most important reason and may not even make the top ten.
I could have made much more money working for someone else. I know that because I have been traditionally employed in my field and did make more money. Quite a bit more, in fact.
Even though I'm now 62, an age where employment can sometimes become difficult, I probably still could get offers that would exceed what I earn on my own.
I don't care one bit.
Being able to pick and choose your working hours is often possible for the self employed, and can be a major attraction. When my wife and I want to take time off, we just do it. If it's a perfect day, we can just hop in the car and go. We don't need to ask anyone, we don't have to check to see how many vacation days we have left, we just take the time.
Of course emergencies can interfere. I'm a sole proprietor, a one man shop, a lone wolf. If a customer is in desperate need, I'll have to cancel our plans. But that seldom happens and if it does, so what? There will be other beautiful days where we can skip out on work.
If you have other responsibilities like child care or a disabled spouse, if you have transportation issues or other problems that can interfere with work, traditional employers can be very unsympathetic. Your clients might get annoyed now and then, but they generally have far more acceptance of your schedule.
If you are only available a few hours a week, that's better than not being able to work at all - some income is far better than none. If those hours vary constantly, working for yourself is far better than having to bargain with an employer who doesn't want to work around your schedule.
Doing what you love
And loving what you do. I really enjoy my work. Yes, I could find the same enjoyment working for someone else, but an employer is always free to change your job description. For example, I once worked for a Sun Unix reseller. I was hired to do tech support for Sun and SCO Unix systems, but I ended up also doing Windows support. I can do Windows, but I don't like it.
I still have to do a little Windows work while working for myself, but I get to control how much of it I am willing to put up with. If I find I'm doing too much, I just drop a customer or two.
Enjoying your customers
I sometimes pass opportunities to other people. Maybe I'm busy, maybe it is something I just don't want to do, maybe I feel I lack the necessary skills to do the work.
I had passed off several small jobs to a local guy and when I called him again he commented something like "Gee, all your customers are so darn NICE!".
Yeah. They are. Because I got rid of all the ones who were not.
The School of Hard Knocks
Traditional education doesn't matter all that much in the computer support field, so my having dropped out of school at the age of sixteen was never a particular disadvantage, but it certainly could be in other occupations.
Unless you are planning to be a doctor, lawyer or something else like that, lack of formal education may be a very good reason to work for yourself. Your customers often don't care what degrees you have on your wall if you can solve their problems and provide reliable service.
I earned every gray hair on my head
Well, actually I don't have very many. Not yet, anyway. I do see them land in my lap when I get a haircut, and they do shine a bit when the sun is strong, but otherwise you might not notice. They are there though, and yes, I earned them.
If you are of a similar age, traditional employers may see you more as a liability than an asset. You could drive up their health insurance costs and you might just get sick of working right after they poured a lot of money into training you. There are laws against age discrimination, but we all know they are ignored. Older people can have a hard time getting hired.
As a self employed person, your age and experience is likely to be seen only as an asset. You are one of the "been there, done that" guys, and that can be very attractive to potential clients.
Pull in that belt
In lean economic times, you can be a model employee and still get laid off. You are expendable and you may be expended if times get tough.
When you work for yourself, you are quite literally the very last person who is going to lose their job.
In bad times, you can lose customers, but you are unlikely to lose them all. Half a paycheck can be a heck of a lot better than no paycheck.
I'm pretty healthy, but I have had some odd fainting episodes and I have also been told that I have a good chance of going blind someday because of severe astigmatism. These things make me really want to grab as much enjoyment out of life NOW as a possibly can. I am not interested in someday - there may never be a someday.
Captain of your fate
For me, this is the primary reason I work for myself. I do not like taking orders from other people.
Yeah, sure, part of it is that I'm one of those "resisting authority" types. I tend to bristle up if you try to tell me what to do. But that's only part of it.
I want to make the decisions.
It's not that I think I'm better at it. I know full well that there are plenty of people who could do a far better job at just about anything I do. I don't think my decisions are going to be better than theirs; I know that in many cases my decisions will not be as good.
It's just that if we're going to founder on the rocks, I want to be the one steering the ship.
Yes, someone else might not have steered the ship onto the rocks at all, but that's not the point. Anyone can screw up, anyone can make a mistake. If I'm going to end up in a big financial mess, I don't want to be cursing anyone but myself.
Do you know what stress is? It is being in a situation where you don't have control. The most unhappy people are those who get to make no decisions. That's why we hear so much about "empowerment" for happier and more productive employees. The more of your life you can control, the happier you are.
Of course, trying to take control of a big oil tanker is a little bit different than taking control of a sailboat on a pond. You can bite off much more than you can chew, right? But that is one of the great things about self employment: if you think you can handle that tanker, go for it. If paddling around the duck pond is more your thing, do that. You have the power to make your own choices.
You did what?
By the way, I get a real kick when I'm with a group of people and that "I did it my way" song comes on the radio or TV. A lot of people, especially men, will sing along with that, and they always seem to get real enthusiastic with the chorus: "I did it my-y-y-y- way!"
The heck they did. Most of them took orders from someone else their entire lives. They might have got to go out in a little dinghy now and then, but the Captain was back at the ship telling them which whales to go after. They most certainly did NOT do it their way.
But I have. Because that's the way I am wired: I NEED to do it my way.
So that's it. Money, flexibility, nice, but not really important. Control of my fate, critical. That is why I work for myself.
If you work for yourself, what is the most important reason for you?
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