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September 15, 2008

10 Myths About Self-Employment

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10 Myths About Self-Employment

By Steve Pavlina, www.stevepavlina.com

Since there are so many myths about self-employment (especially among lifelong employees), a good place to start would be to dispel some of those myths.

I started my first business right after graduating college and have been continuously self-employed since then. The only time I was ever an employee was during college, when I worked six months as a part-time retail sales associate.

MYTH: Self-employed people have to work really long hours. Many self-employed people work longer hours than employees. Some enjoy their work so much they want to put in long hours. Some set up their businesses in such a way that their physical presence is necessary for income generation. So working long hours is largely a symptom of the type of business you create as well as your personal choice. If you don't like working long hours, you certainly don't have to.

MYTH: The only reason to build a business is to sell it. While you can certainly build a business to sell or to take public, you can also build a business to keep. As a self-employed person, you're free to build whatever kind of business you want. You're the boss. If you want to build a business to sell, go for it. If you just want an income source that doesn't require you to get a job, that's fine too.

You can also run multiple businesses at the same time. Once you've been running a business for a decade or more, it's not that hard to repeat the process and spawn another one.

MYTH: Self-employment is much riskier than getting a job. Security is a result of control, and self-employment gives you far more control over your income than you have with a regular job. When you're self-employed no one can fire you or lay you off. Which is more secure? Owning your income stream or leasing it? Ownership obviously.

If you need to make extra cash quickly, that's very tough to do as an employee. But as an owner who controls all the business assets, you have the ability to channel resources to increase income in a pinch. Having control makes a huge difference.

MYTH: Self-employment means putting all your eggs in one basket. Ask yourself this: How many people would have to turn against you to shut off all your income? For employees the answer is usually one. If your boss fires you, your income gets turned off immediately. Now that's putting all your eggs in one basket.

With self-employment, you can more easily diversify your income streams and thereby reduce your risk. You have the control necessary to make this happen. Generating different types of income from thousands of customers is a lot more secure than receiving only one paycheck.

MYTH: Being self-employed is stressful. What's stressful is not being able to make ends meet. Self-employment is less stressful because you enjoy more control. Not having control over your time and your life is stressful. Self-employment can be very low-stress if you decide to make it so. You can turn your office into a relaxing place to work and set your own hours. If you notice the onset of stress, you can take time off to relax.

MYTH: The customer is always right. If you're self-employed, feel free to fire customers that cause you grief. Some customers just aren't worth having. when a customer becomes obnoxiously rude, insulting, or threatening, you have the choice to not work with them. If you're self-employed, there's no need to do business with people who think it's their privilege to treat you like dirt. You won't enjoy having such customers, and you won't enjoy the types of referrals they send you.

MYTH: Being self-employed is lonely. Many employees think they enjoy a rich social life when all they do is hang out with their co-workers. That's fine for starters, but it can get pretty stale after a while. On the contrary it's easier for self-employed people to recognize the need for social activities outside their work. At the very least, this may be motivated by the desire to network and to learn from other business owners.

MYTH: Self-employed people have to do everything themselves. Self-employed people may be responsible for making sure everything gets done, but it's usually foolish for them to do everything themselves. That would be way too much work. You don't have to design your own systems if you can leverage someone else's.

MYTH: Self-employment is too complicated. Self-employment can seem complicated because there's a lot to learn in the beginning, such as accounting, taxes, payroll, legal issues, insurance, etc. It does take a while to learn the basics, but most of it isn't difficult. Get yourself a good book on the subject, and you'll be off to a great start. Don't let the initial learning curve get you down. You only need to learn this info once.

MYTH: You need lots of money to start a new business. That depends on the business. You can start an online business for very little cash. You don't need to pour your life savings into your first business. You do, however, need an intelligent way to provide value to people. The nice thing about an online business is that you can create value for a fixed time investment, and technology can deliver that value millions of times over without costing you any extra time or money. You invest a little time in the initial value creation, but you get paid for the ongoing value delivery. Technology does most of the work for a cost that's virtually zero, but you get paid for its results.

Take back control of your personal and professional life! Try self-employment or a side line business for yourself!

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