If you are reading this, I reckon by now you ‘kind of’ know that it is your goal but you just need to have that little nudge to finally firm up that decision and start working towards that goal. So here I am sharing with you (or reminding you rather) the pros of being self-employed!
What is the value of your time? How do you value your time? Working for an employer means having to fulfill a set minimum hours of work in exchange for the salary one is paid. To put it simply – my value is determined by that minimum hours I spend working based on the contract I have signed with my employer. What is wrong with this picture? Well, nothing, I reckon. But then think again. Have a look at your employment contract again. The keyword used in the contract is ‘minimum‘. How often do you really work just the minimum hours? In my case, previously or at present, I do have to work on the weekends sometimes. I also have to stay on until late in the evening on some days. Let’s not forget the limited number of holidays per year. If I need an additional day (or up to five days a year), I have the ‘flexibility’ to buy the day(s) at my salary pro-rata day rate. So when you look at this, you realise that you are not getting such a good deal after all.
If you were self-employed however, the value of your own time is fully controlled and determined by you and no one else. It is a contract with yourself, for yourself. It is entirely down to you to make that contract worthwhile and valuable because at the end of the day, you are answerable only to yourself. It might sound like a ‘con’ rather than a ‘pro’ in the short term but I would rather be the one to determine what is the value of my time than to let my time or right to my time taken away from me as part my obligation to my employer, as stated in my employment contract.
2. FLEXIBILITY AND FREEDOM
In relation to point #1, you are the master of your own time when you are self-employed. What does that mean and what does that give you? It means that you have a greater flexibility in managing your time and work. Yes, you still have to work because you are a responsible self-employed individual. However, you now have the luxury of managing your time by choosing when you will work and on what specifically in the most productive way. If you are most productive in the evening, then you could spend the day doing other things that matter such as spending time with your family and then start working from 8pm instead. You will no longer be bound by the time and requirements of those in the upper chain of command just because. You will have the freedom to choose what you want to work on or the types of clients you want to work with, not because XYZ says so. Freedom here also refers to freedom to create, freedom to do what you love and make money while doing it!
Many seasoned corporate employees seem to have conveniently forgotten what freedom is. From my own observation, a lot of them have over time become willing employees – they are willing to give up their own time for work obligations. I have known people who had to miss important dates in their lives because of work and I find that really, really sad. There are some who are simply chained to their office desks and be ‘all important’ at work doing something which they have very little personal interest or passion in.
3. OFFICE POLITICS
Everyone in the office has his own agenda in his quest to climb up the corporate ladder. There is no escaping that whether you are in a small, medium or huge organisation. Those who work in the corporate world like me have to engage in office politics one way or another, whether we like it or not. We all want to survive and to shine so that we can get that promotion. That promotion promises a bigger paycheck. A bigger paycheck contributes to the mortgage. Naturally, in order to be worthy of a promotion, we have to be at the right place at the right time, or to put it simply ‘to play the game with the right people’. It can be exhausting but some people do thrive in that game.
Being self-employed means being on your own most of the time. There is no one to try to impress but yourself. And it makes the working experience more authentic because you can channel all your energy, creativity and focus on the right thing. I have never been self-employed. Nevertheless, I had the privilege of not having to engage in any direct office politics when I had to work from home for a continuous three months many years ago. That, for me was the closest I had ever been to being self-employed in term of people interaction. It was a bliss.
4. COMMUTING PRESSURE
I live in London, where most people commute to work by the tube or trains. When the tube or trains operate smoothly, travelling within the city is the most convenient thing ever. However, as I have experienced so many times now, when the London tube goes on a strike, the whole city becomes crippled. Commuting becomes a real nightmare as everything would be so chaotic. Imagine having to face that even just three times a year. The stress, the emotions and the inconvenience that one has to deal with during those times are really, really painful. For those who drive, you may not have to deal with what the commuters of public transportation do, but you still have to concentrate when driving. In the past, I remember how driving after work in the dark during the winter time completely exhausted me as the level of concentration required then was really high (think of dark and icy roads).
When I was ‘kind of’ self-employed, I did not have to deal with all of that. I did not have to factor in the additional two-hour of commuting time to my working hours. I did not have to worry about the tube going on strike. I did not have to worry about the train tracks’ signal failures. I could be in the ‘office’ at the scheduled start time of my working hours without being at the mercy of the transportation issues.
5. FINANCIAL COSTS OF COMMUTING
Piggybacking on the point above, I must say that it is not cheap having to commute to work on the daily basis. Whether you are driving your own car or you are taking the public transport, neither comes free. When I was in Malaysia, I used to drive to the office. The cost of driving included the petrol, the driving insurance, the car maintenance costs, parking and occasionally parking summonses! Sometimes, I even had to budget for car repairs due to various reasons. Then, when I moved to UK and started driving, the costs associated with driving actually tripled. Driving is an expensive business in UK.
Now being in the city, I stopped driving but the cost of commuting has not changed. Do you know that London’s tube tickets are the most expensive in Europe? Not only that, the prices continue to rise every year!
6. OTHER FINANCIAL COSTS
Think of the amount you spend each year on new clothes or new shoes because you have to dress to impress. Well, there are times you have to dress to keep up with the Joneses because of the unspoken culture and expectation of the people in your organisation. What about the amount of money you have to spend on donations or monetary contribution to people you hardly know or care about for a variety of reasons like birthdays or leaving dos?
I do not think I have to elaborate further on this point. It is obvious why being self-employed is so much better in this respect.
7. TAX BENEFITS
I believe there are some tax exemptions for those who are self-employed. I know for a fact that in UK, one pays a much lower tax as a self-employed than as a full-time employee. So, why not take advantage of this?
With all of that said, I acknowledge that being a self-employed is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people thrive in that environment and some people thrive in the corporate environment. It is a personal choice.
I realise that the path leading to one to becoming a successful self-employed is full of challenges. However, I know that ultimately all the challenges will be worth it. That is why I called this post, “The Ultimate Pros of Being Self-Employed“.
*Photo Credit: www.gotcredit.com