Working for yourself definitely sounds amazing. Everyone I’ve talked to about my new journey has thought the idea is wonderful. It’s easy to agree setting your own hours is a nice perk. I decide what projects to start, which projects to end, and what makes something “finished.” There are pros and cons to the whole process and some of the cons aren’t so obvious, so I thought it would be helpful to mention a few of each.
The benefits are most of what you hear people talk about when they say they work for or would like to work for themselves. The primary advantage is setting your own hours and deciding how much time to commit to each task. There’s no one telling you they need you to be available from 9 am to 5 pm. It’s likely you’ll find a lot of the things you need to do can be taken care of at 2 am just as well as 9 am. Your work can be accomplished in your pajamas… in front of a TV… with a glass of wine on the side table.
With all of this freedom also comes a significant amount of responsibility. There will still be time sensitive things. If you tell someone you’re going to meet with them over the phone at 10 am they expect you to be on the phone at 10 am and not 10:30 am. If it’s a video conference changing out of your pajamas and combing your hair is worth consideration. When you’re setting your own deadlines procrastination comes much easier. After all, what does that deadline mean anyway? You created it, you can move the deadline back… and back… and back again.
The cons are discussed very little if at all. When you hear people tout working from home they put a lot of energy into talking about how awesome it is and very little into explaining how much of a strain the extra responsibility can be. The biggest con of working for yourself is you don’t REALLY work for yourself… you work for your customers. There’s no one to shield you from the customer service portion of your work. It’s your responsibility to manage your customer’s expectations and exceed them when possible while doing everything possible to avoid falling short. This can mean deciding to jump through extra hoops for a customer who will spend a significant amount of money on your products or services. It can mean letting a customer go who spends very little money with you but takes a lot of your time.
Another large con can be scheduling, depending upon your business and customers. People aren’t used to having children in the workplace. Your pitch may fall very flat if you take your toddler along to a business meeting and, instead of listening to you, your potential client is watching your child play with their toys. If you can’t bring your child that may significantly restrict your available meeting times. You may need to hire a babysitter from time to time for a few hours here and there where your child will be a major distraction.
Hiring a babysitter… being bossed around by clients… this is starting to sound an awful lot like working for someone else isn’t it? At the end of the day, the market is extremely competitive. There aren’t very many professions where you can make a living without ever changing out of your pajamas. The ones where that is possible are significantly over-supplied with others just like yourself who want to be their own boss and work from home while still spending time with their children.
If you can set reasonable schedules and follow them, work around your family’s needs, and have a talent which makes you stand out from the crowd then I would highly encourage you to explore the idea further. If, given the opportunity, you procrastinate and prefer talking only to people you want to talk to I would re-consider. Working for yourself is still a lot of work. Some people do love it and are passionate about it, but it’s not for everyone.