Three years ago this month, I took the big step of deciding I was going to create my own business. My slight lack of blogging in recent weeks might give some indication of just how successful this has been.
I really want to encourage everyone to work for themselves if at all possible. It is an immensely liberating thing to do and I could never, ever go back to working for anyone else. I was only happy in my working career for perhaps 2-3 years out of 20. I always felt I was working either for or sometimes with idiots and I never had a career as I actually just did my job well rather than being one of the many very average people who drew attention to how amazing they are thanks to very superficial attributes rather than real ability. So working for myself was a chance to see if it wasn’t actually me. Was I better than the people I thought to be useless at their jobs? There was only one way to find out and that was to work for myself.
Here are 20 great reason why you should work for yourself too.
1. Self Discovery – Working for yourself is really a journey of self-discovery. You learn things every day about yourself and about your business.
2. Self Reliance – Working for yourself you will learn about in a few months than what many people do in a lifetime. Not only will your eyes be opened on official areas such as taxation, business regulations and accounting but also on how to better relate to people, how to make things happen for yourself and how to actually just get on and do something. Working for yourself you don’t have anyone else to rely on or to blame or get help from. You have to find a way to make things work right now, there is just no alternative.
3. Respect – This isn’t something I dwell on at all but it is no doubt true and is for some people one of the unimagined benefits of running your own business. You’re no longer “just” a worker or even a “manager”. If you own and run your own business then it doesn’t matter if that business is a pole dancing club or a multi-national tech organisation. Many perceive you as somehow more intelligent, experienced and important. This is not always deserved but then again, the amount of incompetent directors and managers I’ve worked for and have lived off the hard work of their much more able employees is unreal.
4. Risk – The modern world is highly risk adverse even compared to when I was growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s. Sometimes this is for good reasons but just as often it is for bad reasons. Hardly anyone who is highly accomplished in whatever field is risk adverse. Often risk is all about playing hunches or calculated risks. If you make the right call on risks then you’re laying yourself open to all sorts of positive outcomes. In the normal working environment, we’re encouraged to play it safe. Making decisions and particular making calculated risks often go against company procedure so we settle for the mundane. Mediocre rewards for a total absence of risk. When you run your company, this isn’t a restraint, in fact risk is a necessity.
5. Self-Reward – It almost goes without saying that working for someone else is rarely going to make you rich either monetarily or creatively. Even if you do get rich, it’s likely someone more senior is making much more money out of you. For most people, routine work involves working long hours with little appreciation, little reward and lots of blame, stress, bullying and belittlement. Working for yourself still involves long hours but only if you want it to be that way. When you know that all the rewards will come your way, you don’t begrudge working the evenings and weekends because you know the profit will always come your way.
6. Self aggrandisement – I only put this as the title as I have never found the use for this term before and after 42 years I thought, why not! Working for yourself means you have no limit on your possible earned salary. Your not constrained by your experience or pay grade or internal corporate structure or policy. Your pay is entirely dependent on you. I work in tours, it is quite a seasonal business though not as much as you’d expect, at least not in London. I haven’t quite completed my third year of business but year two increased my earnings over year one by 300%. Year three is winning out over year two by another 50%. I’m not far off matching my London salary of 3 years ago but rather than working 5 days a week, I am working 2-3 days a week at least overall. July for example saw me only having 2 days off and both of them I was busy doing work related activities at home. Just as matching my office salary 3 years ago seemed a pipe-dream, it’s not entirely unrealistic to expect to making up £250k-$500k in another 3 years time depending on how I CHOOSE to develop the business (or not) and with a little well placed risk.
7. Freedom! – Working for yourself is a big liberator. In over 3 years, no-one has told me what to do, how to do it, when to do it. No-one has badly planned things, done things incorrectly and left me to deal with it. I’ve never ever not been able to satisfy my customers or let anyone down. I always thought I worked for people less able than myself and after 3 years, I think I have pretty much proven that to be the case, at least in my mind. Of course some of those I worked for were constrained as they too were working for someone else. The feeling of liberty of choosing your working hours, working patterns within reason are incredible. I don’t answer to anyone except myself and could never, ever work for anyone else again. If you find you work somewhere and you’re the only person who seems to be competent then why not think about working for yourself.
8. Job Security – Lots of people feel that job security issues mean that working for themselves isn’t for them. There is no safety net, that is true. If I mess up then only I will face the consequences. If I don’t earn money then only I will suffer. The thing is that in the modern world hardly anyone has job security unless you’re in one of a decreasing amount of professions such as teaching, healthcare, or the undertaker business. Anyone is disposable at any time; even in the most liberal European countries redundancy is only dissuaded or slightly lengthened but it is never absent. You can be the best worker in your company and still lose your job for factors outside your control. I know, it happened to me several times due to greed and market forces, globalisation, relocation, incompetence and even criminality. Of course whatever industry your self-work in has its own risks. For tourism in London and the U.K. mine is most likely terrorism. It’s happened before and no doubt it will happen again but regular industries are effected in such situations too. At least for me, things are largely in my own hands. Currently not only have I been in paid employment for 3 years but every day my future is more and more secure.
9. You’re not my real Mom! – I could also have put down “You don’t outrank me and you don’t have pointed ears” but working for yourself you don’t have to justify anything to anyone. No more snide comments about going home early despite the fact you get into the office hours before anyone else. You don’t have to worry about asking your boss to visit the doctors…. either for them or for you. You can do whatever the hell you want.
10. Self-Employment is fun! – It’s not all fun but it is fun as work can be. Most people aren’t fortunate to like their work but hopefully if you work for yourself then hopefully you get a little more choice as what field to work in and your mindset when working. Many people think my life is one long holiday. Actually my life is making other people have their holiday. There are worst things in life than going to work by visiting Stonehenge or Windsor Castle or following in the footsteps of Jack The Ripper or Sherlock Holmes but then my bad thing is traffic. No body drives into London unless they have to, some days I have to go in and out of London 4 times and when I say into London, I mean the very middle past Big Ben, Marble Arch or Picadilly Circus. Being stuck in 2 hours of traffic and not even going the length of Harrods is not and never will be fun. However, I get the choice of taking on each and every customer. If their email makes them sound hardwork or onerous then I politely decline. If their hotel is in a bad situation for me and I have plenty of other work then I decline. It’s not about money, its about life and happiness which in a weird way is maybe what is making me so successful.
11. Variety is the spice of life – I don’t know about you but I always ended up working in sloppy places where you had to do a bit of everything at least at some basic level. Working for yourself you never quite know what the day will bring. I do everything for my company. I’m a self taught expert at customer service, websites, advertising, law, accounting and taxes as well as my regular day to day activities. I’m an entire company in one person and I’ll let you into a not that big a secret. It’s really, really easy. There is no normal position in an every day corporate company that I can’t do with my eyes closed.
12. Legal stuff is easy – I know the U.K. is a bit special in this regards but it took me all of two minutes to create and register my business. It takes me about 30 minutes to do my annual taxes and I’ve never been more than a few pennies out. Do things properly and keep accurate records and it really is a piece of cake.
13. You don’t need money to start working for yourself – To a degree this depends on what field you are going to work in but for me, really it didn’t cost me a penny. I already had a car and the background knowledge. Much like being an author, it is largely as expensive as what you allow it to be. I simply don’t believe in paying money out in the author business. Apart from enjoying writing, my goal is to make me money not to spend other money on services I don’t need. It’s much the same running your own business. There is a time and a place to invest money if you think it will bring a good return. I’ve found that hard work and a good reputation is both free and also priceless and much more beneficial from how-to courses, advertising, marketing, networking type events that all seem to be full of people talking about how they might make money (often paying others for attending the event) rather than just going out and making money.
14. Interesting people – You actually get to meet a much more diverse range of people working for yourself. I used to share my office largely with technophobic directors whose idea of work was one big all expenses paid lunch after another. These days I get to meet real people from all walks of life. German doctors, Australian secret agents, Hollywood actors, Russian factory workers, Finnish Death Metal bands. In the last week I’ve given tours to veterinary surgeons, a general, a family from the pacific, a board member of Texas Instruments, a mayor and a social worker. All from different countries but all nice and real people who are both my customers but also nice to me…. partly because I’m really nice to them and it is their holiday but also because I am a high-flying CEO 🙂
15. Making a difference – If you work for yourself then you are probably working in an area of life in which you are passionate about. I’d imagine that for many people it is not just about making money for themselves and doing something they like doing but also helping others. Whether starting a charity foundation or creating a new technology or service. My way of making a difference is about giving people the best day of their holiday which is a huge responsibility if you think about it. People spend all year and often many years working hard and then they entrust me with their very precious time and money. The amount of people who have told me I have made their dreams come true or given them the best day or their life is innumerable. How rewarding is that?
16. Improved Productivity – In many jobs, it is actually hard to get anything done. Stupid deadlines and managers. Annoying customers who email you and delay you fulfilling your duties to them as you have to email them back. Commuting to work. Taking part in brain-dead meetings. Working for yourself frees you from these shackles. I don’t think I ever took part in a meeting that was worthwhile, certainly I never took part in a meeting where I wasn’t overruled and mostly ignored. On those days when I am not doing tours, I actually get to do my admin, planning, improvements and I start at 6am. I’m pretty confident I get a days output from myself by 8 or 9am. Of course it is not a huge pile of work because it doesn’t have to be. I plan things properly, I don’t have to re-do things. I don’t waste time on company politics or stupid new procedures. I just get on with my job and it’s mostly done in the amount of time it would take me to drive to my old place of work.
17. Failure is success – Everything aspect of running your own business is useful, even the failure. And there will be failures in running your business believe me. But failure is almost as useful as success. I haven’t ever made a mistake but I have done or not done things that weren’t as successful as I might have hoped. It’s character building and if you’re smart then you won’t ever repeat actions that find you in the same situation more than once. In fact even if your business is a total unmitigated disaster, in lots of ways you will still have gained a lot of valuable experience. Don’t be afraid to fail, only a mediocre person is always at their best. Running a business is like a boot camp for your own personal character development.
18. Control – You actually have control in your life. You have a stake in the future. You, not your boss. Yes I’m busy every hour God sends this summer. I don’t have to be, it’s my choice to make Ye Olde England Tours as successful as possible and I won’t ever try my hardest for it. Others might me happy at carving out a modest income with lots of free time. Actually, I want lots of free time and as much income as possible at least in the short term. I fully expect to be busier than the previous two winters but I also look forward to days and maybe weeks at a time where I don’t do any work-work. I feel it is like the wildlife in the African savannah. Long months of getting by on increasingly meagre rations and then it rains and for a few short weeks life is the sweetest thing. Only my meagre rations will have been paid for by the summer and will consist of long walks in the country, writing and as much travel as possible.
19. Success breeds success – Nothing engenders future success than past and current success. Working for yourself is mildly addictive, everything I do I can see monetary gains from. Every day is an adventure, rather like being in a James Bond film. I plan everything like a mission, where will I go, where can I park? What restaurants and toilets are there for guests? Where are traffic hotspots? I am entirely responsible for each and every tour, I stand and fall on my own actions. Everything I do will either make me money, make even more money or make me lose money. I have the entire world as a marketplace and I don’t owe my living to anyone or anything. It is total freedom but also total responsibility. It’s being an adult in every sense of the word.
20 I have fun – I honestly don’t miss anything about working in a company. In 20 years, there were only a handful of people who I really liked and I do love them all. I don’t miss anything about work because I didn’t enjoy any of it. I am honoured that people pick me to give them great holidays but as I work for myself, I always try and accept only those I am going to get on with. I love meeting interesting and fun people from around the world. I no longer have hurried lunches at my desk or more likely in the cold car, beaten down by rain or snow. In fact I have ‘executive lunches’. I don’t have hurried walks to get fresh air but instead go out whenever I want, often for a complete day in the middle of the working week. I have the internet on my computer all the time and don’t have to hide it. I can dress how I want. I never have to answer the phone, people actually tell me I am brilliant at my job and I get paid tips for a single day that some might call a good weeks work. Most of all though, I have fun making sure and seeing that my customers have fun and that is priceless.
Whatever field you are interested in, I hope this makes you stop and think about working for yourself. Everyone has a skill or interest that can be monetised. I’ve even inspired some of my tourists to quit their day jobs and do what makes them happy as their career. If you happen to live in or close to London and fancy working with me then get in touch as I have now gone past the point of working for myself and am more than ready to hire someone. Just another way I can make a difference to someone by working for myself. If I can do it then so can you.
This post is dedicated to my ever supportive wonderful wife, Emilia.