9 Reasons To Quit Your Job And Become Self-Employed
Quitting your job is scary, but you need to do it. Here are 9 reasons to ignore your doubts and do it anyway.
Quitting your job is scary, but you need to do it. Here are 9 reasons to ignore your doubts and do it anyway.
I came back from the US in 1997 after a short period of drinking way too much beer and having way too much fun to be good for me.
Once at home, I lounged around for a few months and eventually realised that I needed to get a job and start earning a few bob again.
I was 22.
I mentioned to my Dad one Sunday at the bar having a pint that we should go into business together. He was very well connected, and we could have hit the ground running.
But he declined.
From his experienced, or rather conditioned perspective, it was too risky.
But for one reason or another, the seed had been sewn. I was to continue mulling over this idea for the next three years until circumstances gave me the push I needed.
I had seen during my time in the US, guys like me were starting and running their own small business and I felt there was no reason that I could not do the same.
Once I was living at home and earning a steady income again, I felt it was only a matter of time.
Making The Break
I was making progress in my job, finding promotion and making more money, but something was missing.
I wasn’t happy with the comfort and 8 to 4 daily routine, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t affect any change in how the other guys worked.
So I left.
My first work vehicle was a maroon Ford Fiesta; the same as this except it was the van version with the back windows and doors blanked off. It served me well until I had a few bob to get a bigger van.
Off into new territory, I went with my maroon Ford Fiesta and my few tools.
I felt an enormous sense of freedom, even though I had very little work in the beginning. This is an important thing to keep in mind as you break out on your own — things will be tight initially, but you’ll ride it out, and business will come your way.
Starting from zero, you’ll have little to lose, especially if you have no dependents.
People who already like and trust you will be thinking of ways to help you.
That’s how it works.
You keep letting people know you’re out on your own and they’ll keep looking out for you until one day you’ll have too much work.
One critical thing to remember is that you must be yourself.
The minute you try to fabricate a new way of behaving, you’ll turn people off. They’ll sense that you’re a bullshitter and you’ll do damage to your reputation.
This is especially important to remember when things go south. Because when they do, (and they always do), people who trust you will again look out for you, and forgive you when you make poor decisions.
Allow yourself to be as authentic as you naturally are, and your business will grow.
This has been my experience.
Anyway, within 6 months I had landed my first big project with an international logistics company and made as much money in 8 weeks than I had in 12 months as a direct employee.
Later, with a few years of experience behind me, I was fortunate to win projects here in Ireland for US Govt., Intel, and other international corps.
I didn’t look back after that.
Reasons Why You Need To Quit Your Job And Work For Yourself
Starting in business for myself was the best decision I have ever made.
I have benefitted from it in so many ways, and I encourage anyone with as much as a curiosity to do the same.
That is despite the downs, because there will be downs — they are inevitable.
My kids are young, but that doesn’t stop me from drilling into their young minds the importance of learning skills in a field they are interested, then to break out and do their own thing.
They’ll learn so much more about themselves and the world doing so.
For you, my advice is the same.
Learn the technical aspects of the work to better than a proficient degree, then set up your own thing.
Like me, you might be doubtful that you can do it if even only slightly. If you are, consider these reasons to ignore your doubts
#1 You Don’t Need Employees
At least initially, and maybe never at all depending on how you structure your business. In the age of the freelancer, starting out in business with the idea that you need directly employed people is perhaps a mistake.
You will need to remain flexible and make sure overhead is as small as possible. Revenue will be tight initially, and so you’ll need to ensure that your business income is paying for expenses.
That means you are not using valuable capital on the day to day business costs.
The business must support itself.
So, as a business of one, you can get things moving very quickly and without exposing yourself to the needless expense of employees.
I should, however, add; one of my biggest mistakes in business was to hire staff I didn’t need, or earlier than was required. It burns cash and will burn your business.
Don’t make this mistake — keep it tight.
#2 You Can Choose Your Working Hours
I can never imagine myself going back to a 9 to 5 weekly grind.
To me, that arrangement is soul-destroying.
As I go about my business these days, I watch the flow of people to and from their 9 to 5 workplace, and I am thankful I managed to break out of the employee mindset.
And you can do the same.
It doesn’t matter if you have a family or not, setting your own working hours is liberating and can be, in fact, friendly to a family home life.
It’s important to remember, however, that we need to hold ourselves accountable to the amount of time we spend working — especially if we do it from home.
For a period of years, at it’s most hectic, I was always working late all the time. I hardly ever took breaks, and that was detrimental to home life. I was ratty and temperamental, short with the kids and my wife.
That’s not what you want.
Setting your own working hours can improve your work and home life, but only if you are sufficiently self-disciplined.
#3 Bosses Don’t Care About You
Despite what you might otherwise like to believe, your boss in work does not care about you.
They care about themselves.
They are under pressure to perform, just like you are, and they are afraid.
The motivation for bosses to return on deliverables, the performance of their team etc. is firmly based in fear.
If they don’t deliver, they fail to show competence, and so they will use whatever means necessary, (within the boundaries and legalities and HR dictates) to get out of you what’s needed.
Now, you might argue against this premise of mine, and you may be correct where your one-to-one work relationships are concerned. But the fact is that when it comes down to it, your bosses will always rule in accordance with that which is expected of them by their bosses.
And sometimes, that means throwing someone (you) under the bus.
#4 Companies Don’t Care About People
They might pretend to.
They might put in place optics to ensure that the perception is different, but rest assured, if corporate decides that the Dublin office is to close or that they are too heavy on one side, you’re out on your ear.
Companies don’t have much concern for the people they employ, other than the statutory requirements under employment law and their intent to get the “best” out of us.
“Best” invariably means productivity, and time (used efficiently) = money and profits = happy shareholders. There are exceptions to this I’m sure, but not too many.
Better to direct your own life and be self-reliant than be forever lining corporate shareholder’s pockets.
Small businesses might operate differently regarding attitudes to staff. I know mine did, almost to the detriment of the business I may add, but the big boys don’t.
So get out and do your own thing.
#5 You’ll Expand Your Sense of Self
When you start in business for yourself you have to learn fast, it’s vital, and you’ll have little choice.
You’ll have to make decisions that sometimes don’t work out.
You might even lose a bucket of money in the process, but you’ll learn so much that way.
You won’t get things handy, and all false ideas you had about self-employed people making oodles of dosh will be shattered. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll earn less than you did in previous employment.
But it’s worth the investment.
So no matter.
Every experience will add to the newly forming self. You’ll be more self-assured, self-reliant and confident, not to mention fulfilled and engaged.
Do it. Start broadening your horizons.
#6 You Can Set A Higher Standard
I remember one of the most significant difficulties I had as an employee was the lack of effort and standards guys around me had.
I was in charge of projects, but no matter how insisting I was that they keep a high standard, the guys didn’t want to apply themselves.
They had been trained by the system to do as little as possible.
What was the point of doing a better job given that they were being paid the same anyway!
When you work for yourself, you get to set the standard. You get to decide to what level you execute the work and when the time comes for employees, you get to train them to that exacting standard.
My best guys were the ones I trained.
In contrast, my worst guys were the ones I hired with all the bad habits picked up from their lacklustre colleagues.
Working for yourself allows you to dictate and set the standards. and these standards is what you’ll be measured by.
#7 Knowledge & Expertise Increase
I made some serious mistakes in business, especially when it comes to employing people.
I gave the guys I hired too much trust, and many of them took clear advantage of that.
One guy who drove a company vehicle would lie about his whereabouts.
We got vehicle trackers in the vans, and subsequently, I discovered he would park up in his local boozer almost every evening. That meant he was drinking and driving a company van.
He’d also arrive late into work for the same reason.
I sacked him. I sacked another guy for separate indiscretions.
I ended up in the labour court, and as such, I learned sharply about HR regulations. You see, I couldn’t just sack these guys even though they were breaking my rules and work ethic.
Working for yourself, you need to learn accounts, HR, sales and marketing, PR, how to network and build relationships.
It’s a tough ask, but you’ll build knowledge and expertise way beyond your current level.
#8 You Can Potentially Make More Money
You can potentially make more money but it’s not a foregone conclusion. It’s more likely that for a while you will earn less than you did before.
However, as a business of one or in a corporate structure, you can offset many expenses against your business.
The key to making more money, I have learned, is to scale.
If you can find a way to scale your product or service and reach more people or increase the margin of profit, then you’re on the pig’s back.
Hire freelancers on a job to job basis, sub-contract specialist elements of the work, become a manager rather than a worker.
There’s little sense trying to do everything because you will burn yourself out. Instead, make sure you understand the cost of delivering the product or service and build in the necessary margin to cover specialists.
And don’t, whatever you do, enter into self-employment with the misconception that offering the work cheaper than everyone else is a good idea.
#9 Your Life & Work Satisfaction Will Be Higher
I have been researching work and life satisfaction for over a year now and will stay on this topic for my thesis next year.
In my review of the available literature, I have found that research suggests that self-employed people have happier and more content with their lives than directly employed workers.
One such paper is that by Peter Warr from the University of Sheffield. His findings have shown that, quote;
“As predicted, job satisfaction in self-employment is found to exceed that of organisational workers primarily for those who do not supervise others. In respect of personal flourishing, self-employed workers report significantly greater accomplishment in their lives, and that difference is again found only for workers without supervisory responsibility”.
Interesting, isn’t it?
Self-employment is conducive to life and work satisfaction but only where responsibility for employees is not a factor. At least this was the case with Peter Warr’s data. Warr gathered data from the European Social Survey.
A happier life, much like all possible outcomes of self-employment over direct employment, is no guarantee. Personal circumstances, personality and individual differences come into play.
However, it is more likely you will be happier and more fulfilled.
So get started!
I have been in the ears of my boys since they were old enough to hold a conversation with me, explaining that to work for themselves should be their top career priority.
As such, I hope they take my direction for their betterment and success.
At the same time, there’s no guarantee that self-employment is a fit for them or you.
So many parameters affect our potential success, but overall, I have come to believe that we are better served by being tested to our extents rather than having too much comfort.
And in business for oneself, one thing is for sure; you will be tested.
Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters