7 compelling reasons to become self-employed


I recently noticed that a blog post I did back in 2008 on the joys of self-employment has been getting some solid traffic lately.

In the post I ran through the history of how I came to work for myself, and gave 7 reasons that matter to me for why I infinitely prefer to work for myself rather than someone else. Part of working for myself is building companies that go far beyond me, but the motivations of doing MY thing rather than being employed by someone else are the same.

The 7 reasons I love working for myself are worth restating:

1. My life is completely free-form and open-ended. I can – and do – regularly wake up in the morning and decide to change what my business does and how I do it. If you are in a job – even if it’s as CEO – there are constraints and job definitions to work within.

2. I can be myself. My early experience of employment was trying hard to fit in to very particular corporate cultures. I later realized that it was not that I wasn’t suited to corporate or adult society per se, but that there simply wasn’t a fit between my personality and the companies I happened to be working in.

3. I get the value I create. If I do things well, I get the rewards for that – be they financial or otherwise. A key part of the trade-off of being employed is that you will only get a small proportion of the value you create for the organization.

4. I am ultimately far more secure than employees. While it’s a risk to set up a business venture or work for yourself, ultimately there is far greater security than working for a company or even government. I can’t be laid off, and while my income may vary, I can always make money. In addition the (potentially) greater rewards from self-employment provide a solid buffer.

5. I control my life. I choose where I live rather than living where I happen to find the right job, I sleep in, go to the beach during the day, work harder sometimes and slack off at others – all at my will and not having to ask for permission.

6. I am the only one that needs to believe in me. What I do and where I get to is not dependent on someone else recognizing my capabilities. While I did pretty well in my ‘corporate’ career, I don’t think anyone I reported to ever saw what I was truly capable of (something I am sure many people will have experienced), so I would have been limited by others’ perceptions.

7. I work to create results, not to impress others. The majority of employed people of all levels of seniority play political games, striving to be seen or to be liked by the right people, working in environments where perceptions very often trump capability and outcomes.

If you are self-employed, what matters most to you, and if you’re not, what might compel you to leap out of employment?