Water Cooler December 2016: Are you ready to be your own boss?


by Melany Hallam

Question: If you had the option, would you work for yourself? Yes / No / Maybe

I’m my own boss and I love it, but it took many years to get to this point in my life. My writing and graphic design service didn’t materialize overnight. I worked as an employee for a long time while taking an increasing number of contracts on the side, building my skills and my client list. When I made the leap and quit my job, it felt like a perfectly natural thing to do – the only rational option for me.

There are various ways that a person can become self-employed, from a sole proprietor offering professional services (someone like me), to a manufacturer who starts making a product in his garage and later becomes a millionaire (like Bill Gates). But no matter the size of the business or the level of financial risk involved, entrepreneurs have common reasons for going out on their own (see a list of 50 of them here). For me, there are three main motivators:

  1. Yes, I admit it. I can be a bit of a control I like to do things in ways that make sense to me, and I’ll resist doing the work if an employer doesn’t consider or value my input. I also prefer to be the one making the decisions that affect my life, even if they turn out to be the wrong ones.
  2. Schedules are for trains. I find it very boring to do the same things at the same times every day. Like getting up in the morning. Why does it have to be morning? Why can’t I work all night and sleep till noon? If it’s a sunny day (and that’s a rare thing around Powell River these days), why not take a day off to go hiking and then work some extra hours later? What difference does it make WHEN I work if the work still gets done? I’ve found that many employers don’t appreciate that kind of flexibility with time.
  3. I like to solve problems – it’s a challenge and it feels great to come up with solutions that work well. Every contract I work on is a new problem, with a beginning and an end. It’s satisfying to help both my clients and their customers communicate with each other, by transforming complicated ideas into easily understood text or graphics. I’m not saving the world but it does make some people’s lives less stressful. What’s not to like?

But not everyone can stay motivated over the long term while building a business, and not every business idea is viable.  Before you take the leap, make sure that there are people willing to pay for your product or service on an ongoing basis. Are you willing to put in long hours to make it happen? You should also ask yourself if you’re just escaping a job you hate rather than starting a business you love. Your reasons have to be positive in order to sustain your interest over time.

So while you think about that, I’m going to go sit in the hot tub for a while and pretend I’m on a tropical vacation. How many people can do that at work?


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