7 Things No One Told Me About Self-Employment
I finally took the plunge to self-employment in February of 2017. I had backed off to part time at my job and was finally ready to take the next big step to what I considered 'complete freedom.' I put in my two weeks notice, I organized my budget, and I thought I was ready to go. I was going to be my own boss. This was going to rock. Well, to be honest, it does rock, but there are a lot of things I didn't expect. No one who was self-employed let me in on the day-to-day struggles! I knew that I was on my own for retirement savings, but didn't think about the UPS driver seeing me in my pajamas on a daily basis. If you're thinking of taking the next big step in your own business I hope this can help prepare you as you start the most incredible, exhilarating journey.
Even your closest friends may not understand your job
When you’re in charge there isn’t anyone to take over which means you can’t always make it to the wedding showers, birthday dinners, and weekend getaways. If your friends or family aren’t self-employed it’s likely they just won’t get it. It’s hard to understand no paid vacations, no 401k, no employer paying half those pesky social security taxes. You'll have a hard time with friends understanding why you're on your phone interacting with clients on Facebook, Instagram, and every other platform known to man. You’ll also run into them not understanding why you can’t take the afternoon off to go to lunch when you make your own schedule! The schedule is flexible, it's true, but a lot of times the flexibility comes across as availability. Not the same thing. I have the opportunity to go out for lunch with a friend but that means I have to stay up until 1am finishing what I didn’t get done in the afternoon. If you struggle with this too send your friends and family this post, and maybe it'll help them understand a little better!
You’re never off the clock
This is something I’m still struggling with because I’m horrible at setting boundaries. I want to be there for my customer and help them in a timely manner, wouldn’t you? Well, the issue with this is there are lots of nights I’m on calls at 10pm trying to help someone make a last minute order or I’m up at 6am on the phone with a client who needed help learning how to use an interface. You may read that and think, ‘Who the heck would call at the hour?’ But it happens and it happens often! Set hours and boundaries for yourself, then try your hardest to stick with them. Balance is important.
You can’t do everything, even if it means a higher salary
In day to day life this is called learning to say no, but it’s really hard to say no when it has dollar signs attached to it. Learn your limits. The higher salary won’t be worth it when your stress level is through the roof and your health is taking a hit. Sleep is important. Having friends is important. Self care is important. Sometimes the extra moolah just isn't worth it.
Having only your dog as a co-worker can be lonely
When making the switch to working from home full time, I didn’t even consider that I'm an extrovert. I thrive when I can communicate and bounce ideas off of other humans and you know where there aren’t other humans? My teeny-tiny home office. I mean, I love my dog but she doesn’t provide the same interaction that co-workers do. I’ve found going to my yoga classes, scheduling coffee dates, and strategically planning work meetings have been helpful for this but there are some things I miss from the workplace that can’t be recreated at home!
Taxes and business costs are higher than you imagined
Knowing your value is hard enough, but then you still have to add in taxes and business expenses! That $30 an hour you are charging? Well, you can go ahead and set back at least 30% of that for taxes, now we’re making $20 an hour, right? Nope. Unfortunately, we still have to take away additional expenses such as office supplies, equipment, maybe travel and more! If your costs are only $5 an hour than you’re really making $15 an hour. Not a bad wage but definitely not the $30 an hour you originally thought you were making.
Budgeting an inconsistent income is hard, but possible
Holy moly. This is a tough one. When you’re a business owner you don’t always get a consistent paycheck. It’s not that bi-weekly, taxes are pre-pulled-out pay. It takes time to figure out a reasonable amount to pay yourself. However, I’ve learned this is a great opportunity to save extra money and live below your means! You can read more about how I budget my inconsistent income here.
If you’re not working, you’re not making money
This one million times over. It’s hard for me to take a vacation because if I’m on vacation I’m not making money. There is no paid time off or vacation leave in self-employment but that’s okay! Learning to save and plan ahead is tough but totally doable!