Becoming your own boss has unique challenges but can be rewarding if approached with humility and a desire to learn. Self-employment is as freeing or restricting as you make it. The same cannot be said of traditional employment where your flexibility is dictated largely by company policy and your manager. Many millennial professionals value flexibility and strive to create more of it in the workplace. It’s understandable - the ability to set your own schedule is empowering. Flexibility doesn’t mean working less hours, however. The work still has to get done but you at least have some say in when and where specifically that work is done. Feel like driving to the Oregon coast for the weekend and working from your cabin? More power to you if you’re self-employed. Otherwise, good luck getting your corporate overlord to let you do the same thing.
The second reason often cited for wanting to pursue self-employment is creative control. For highly creative individuals, having the ability to dictate your own projects is invaluable. Rigid specifications placed on mandatory projects can stifle creativity. For other professionals, wanting control is more about calling the shots. There’s no boss to run ideas past or kowtow to. The only person you have to answer to is yourself and your client or audience.
There’s a certain kind of person who can succeed in this type of work arrangement, and it’s definitely not for everyone. Those pursuing self-employment need to be passionate about their work. If you don’t love what you do, you’ll never have the inner drive necessary to run your own business through tough times. Enthusiasm is infectious and it will be evident to your customers or audience. This is especially important from the social media side of things. If your brand needs a social presence to sustain itself (it probably does), then you’ll also be responsible for managing it. For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, managing your own social media accounts is a great way to connect directly with your audience and potential clients. You get to frame the conversation and put your best foot forward - something that’s often beyond your control when you’re a small cog in a much larger machine. If you have that drive to share your expertise and connect, your followers online will be able to see that enthusiasm.
Alongside that inner drive, it’s important to have a support system in place. In traditional workplaces you’ll often work alongside a variety co-workers, offering many opportunities for social interaction. It’s not uncommon to befriend your co-workers. For many self-employed individuals, they have no co-workers or employees and spend most of their time alone. This can be a big change for people who are used to an office environment. Working in public places can alleviate some of this, as it allows you at least the opportunity to be around others. It’s also important to have the support of your significant other - if you’re working from home, they may very well be your only human contact throughout the work day.
Combining all of these elements, it becomes clear that to be a successfully self-employed individual you must have discipline. You’re responsible for determining your schedule, workflow, workplace, clients, and the kind of work you do. Things you might take for granted at a traditional workplace like financial guidance and payroll must be handled on your own or by a hired professional.
Routines are often important to keep accountable and proactive. Depending on your specific self-employment situation, it may be necessary to compartmentalize your work and home life. Each can sap from the other and interfere with your ability to complete work or fulfill your responsibilities at home.
It’s challenging to balance all of these aspects. You are your own first resource and must determine the best way to address and overcome each obstacle that your business faces. There’s no guarantee of success either way - but it will certainly be a learning experience as you come to rely on yourself and discover the power of self-employment.