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I Want to be My Own Boss: Is Self-Employment Right for Me?

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Joe Strechay

While attending a conference a few weeks ago, I attended a great session on self-employment, which really got me thinking. I have previously written about working from home, but haven't yet addressed starting your own business.

I reached out to some friends who are self-employed, and all shared some common attributes and similar thoughts. Some things to consider:

  • It requires working many more hours than you would in a typical 9-to-5 job. Most people (the ones I spoke with, at least) work 80 hours or more a week, often closer to 100. They stressed to me, "If you don't get it done, it will not get done." Some have assistants, but that was only after years of working on their own.
  • You are not only provide the service or create the product, you also have to do the administrative aspects. This takes organization, time management, and being fiscally responsible. Many have accountants they work with, but still have to be on top of everything. You have to do your own inventory, billing, sales, and more.
  • There is very little time for vacation or time off until you have become well-established. A few told me that it took over two years before they could take a "real" (five days or more) vacation—and even then, they still didn't feel comfortable leaving their business for that long. Others told me that they had to work through vacations, via internet and cell phone—"Vacations are for your families when you are self-employed."
  • Overhead costs—who is going to pay for your business location or a new computer when your current laptop dies? You will have to incur those costs and build them into your budget. When building in the cost of your product or service, you have to make sure you allot for these types of expenses.
  • Where will you get that money? What percentage do you have to provide towards starting your business? All of these persons had to provide a percentage when starting their business. Some stressed how long it took to get their loan to start the business.
  • Marketing—are you a marketing expert? Often, businesses live or die on appropriate marketing plans. Are you reaching your target audience? Is your audience large enough to sustain your business? Is there room for your business to grow within the market?

Do you have what it takes to be self-employed? Recently, the Hadley School for the Blind launched the Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship. The program helps individuals with visual impairments and their spouses become educated on starting their own business or helping their business to thrive. The center includes a number of courses and webinars aimed at preparation for this intriguing arena.

However, it should be stated: self-employment is not for everyone; it takes the right person with the right skill set to succeed and sustain a business. AFB CareerConnect offers guidance through mentors who work, or have worked, in many fields of interest. Become a user today and connect with our mentors via the CareerConnect messaging system or post a question or explore career specifics on Career Clusters.

If you are having issues navigating the employment process, check out the Job Seeker's Toolkit, a free online course that allows you to become more aware and get tips specific to cover letters, resumes, the job search, interview, and more.

What have your experiences been with self-employment? Let us know in the comments!

There are currently 6 comments

Re: I Want to be My Own Boss: Is Self-Employment Right for Me?

I agree wholeheartedly with this article. Maintaining your own business is much more time-consuming than working for a company or other entity. it requires a level of Commitment that not all possess. If you do, however, I would definitely take advantage of the tools mentioned in this article.

I've toyed with the idea of having my own business and the task has been daunting, to say the very least. First, we'll see how well I handle being a private vendor.

Re: I Want to be My Own Boss: Is Self-Employment Right for Me?

I think starting your own business is a very daunting task. Kudos to anyone willing to try.

Re: I Want to be My Own Boss: Is Self-Employment Right for Me?

Thank you for posting!

I totally agree, but if you do go that route -- take advantage of the resources listed. Mentors from AFB CareerConnect who are doing this already can offer advice, postives, negative, and the problems they have encountered. Hadley's courses offere some great resources to get prepared for this type of venture or how to improve what you have started. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate the feedback.

Joe Strechay

Re: I Want to be My Own Boss: Is Self-Employment Right for Me?

Hi, thanks for your posting. Before you start apply for a loan, you have to consider how much you can borrow. I started a business at home and use an auto loan calculator to calculate the money borrowed from bank. Hope you succeed.

Re: I Want to be My Own Boss: Is Self-Employment Right for Me?

Great point, there are a lot of loan calculators online that can help figure out what you "might" be able to obtain. It would be suggested to shop around banks and such too. Find what rates are offered. I suggest searching for tips on loans for starting a business before jumping in the deep end. Do your research!

Joe Strechay

Re: I Want to be My Own Boss: Is Self-Employment Right for Me?

thanks for posting on this topic

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