Solopreneur Life: Pros and Cons of Working for Yourself
Sometimes I think back to my years of working a traditional 9-to-5 job in offices and schools. Although the steady pay and the benefits were nice, a part of me knew that it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted. That part of me grew and grew, speaking louder each year until I couldn’t deny it anymore; I had to step out on my own. It was definitely a scary move, but when I finally made the leap and started working for myself — doing exactly what I’d always wanted to do — I knew I’d made the right choice. Considering the freedom and autonomy and satisfaction I enjoy now, I wouldn’t trade those day-job perks for anything.
People who quit their day jobs to work from home often find real joy in working for themselves. Indeed, the “gig economy” has been steadily rising in America, with 60 million people currently choosing this avenue of work. Entrepreneurship continues to grow, as well. According to figures released by the U.S. Small Business Administration last year, there were 30.2 million small businesses operating in the U.S. in 2015. Eighty percent of them were solopreneurs with no employees.
For a lot of people, this lifestyle works. For everything you give up, there is something you gain. But before you take the plunge, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of working for yourself, so you can make the career decision that’s right for you.
Disadvantages of solopreneur life
Working for yourself does come with some disadvantages; it’s best not to try to kid yourself that there aren’t any. Know this from the get-go: There will be some challenges for you to face — but armed with that knowledge, a little tenacity, and resilience, you can overcome them. And once you identify your drawbacks, you can find a solution, even if it takes a bit of creativity. Here are a few of the hurdles you’ll find in your path:
Many people who work for themselves do it full-time. However, they know going into it that there are some caveats. You’re not going to make the same amount of money each week. Chances are, there will be high-paying weeks and low-paying ones. Clients will come and go, usually at inopportune times.
Those who keep these fluctuations foremost in their minds can find a way to make it all work. Solutions can include making a savings plan, tax payment plan, and flexible budget, along with searching for any small business loan opportunities. With some proactive planning, you can make these all work for you, too.
Lack of benefits
This is a biggie. Solopreneurs have to essentially build their own benefits packages or find ways to work around them. Three of the benefits solopreneurs and freelancers miss most include health insurance, retirement savings, and paid time off. Here are some considerations for each:
- If you’re married to a spouse who has health, vision, and dental insurance, you don’t have to worry about this. But if not, you’ll want to carefully consider this issue, especially if you have children. Be sure to check the options offered through the Affordable Health Care Act.
- Retirement is less worrisome because most companies are pushing employees towards 401(k)s, anyway. Look into the option of a solo 401(k), instead. While it’s true you’ll miss the employer contributions, if you invest regularly and wisely, you can make up for this.
- As your own boss, you can usually work remotely if you want to travel, and bring along your laptop to help you work around the no-paid-time-off problem.
This is not a comprehensive list of benefits, of course, just some major points for you to consider. Think about the benefits that are most important to you when you begin designing your own benefits package. Once you devise a way to replace each benefit you’ll miss, you won’t have to worry so much about losing employer-provided options.
Working alone day after day can wear on you if you aren’t conscious of the drawbacks. You won’t have lunch hours shooting the breeze with colleagues or enjoying some good banter at the water cooler. If you have young kids at home, wandering in and out of your office, your deepest interpersonal conversations may be about SpongeBob Squarepants. However, you can make up for the lack of adult conversation and stay involved with your professional community by following some of these tips:
- Attend local meetups with other solopreneurs.
- Establish an active social media presence. (You’ll want to do this, anyway, to promote yourself and your business.)
- Attend networking events or trade shows.
- Consider joining a co-working space.
With these strategies, you can not only fill your craving for interaction with others, but also stand to develop some good business relationships along the way.
Advantages of solopreneur life
When assessing the pros of solopreneurship, it’s important to remember that jobs don’t have the longevity they used to. Rarely does anyone retire anymore with a pension and a gold watch. So if it’s security you’re worried about, consider this a pro: You can set and take control of your own destiny! Here are some of the top advantages of working for yourself:
Running your own gigs means you have total freedom. Be it your hours, the type of work you enjoy, or even working in your PJs every day, the sky’s the limit. Whatever it is that rejuvenates you and gives you joy, you can work it into your daily routine. Total freedom is perhaps the #1 reason many people decide to go it on their own.
While it’s true that many companies now offer flexible working schedules, as a solopreneur, you have the utter independence to choose your hours. Want to start your day at 10 a.m. after dropping the kids at school and getting in a good workout? Check. Want to run to the grocery store mid-morning to stock up for the week’s lunches and snacks? Check. Prefer to put in a few hours after the kids are in bed? Check.
When you create your own job, you earn the ability to set hours that work for you. You might have to occasionally allow some wiggle room at times to help a customer or meet a deadline, but that’s part of the beauty of flexibility: You can most likely still do this at a convenient time.
More enjoyable work
Working for yourself means you can choose your own projects. No more slogging it out on a mind-dizzying project your boss insists you handle. If you don’t like a job, you don’t have to accept it — or you can refer them to another self-employed person you know who might be a better fit (another benefit of networking: They can return the favor!). Choosing the kind of work you want to do makes for enjoyable days.
The great thing about solopreneurship is the flexibility you’ll have. For many people, this alone makes them able to make it work. Have you always wanted to start your own business to give yourself the time you need for your family? Or do you want time to work on a passion project in your off-hours? Either way, what are you waiting for? There has never been a better time to start working for yourself.