Almost everyone who chooses to become self-employed faces a barrage of questions from dreambashers and skeptics. The most popular question is, “How can you give up your security?” I am tempted to say, “You mean a puny little health insurance policy and two weeks’ vacation?”
There are tradeoffs, of course, but the skeptics have no idea what they really are. When I traded in my job, here’s what I got back.
Mobility. I can live anywhere I want or live nowhere if I want. With today’s technology, running a business is only a cell phone and laptop away.
Creativity. Never again do I have to experience the frustration of being unable to bring my ideas to life. Like most self-bossers, I have discovered that ideas beget more ideas. Now I get to try them outÑthe good ones and the bad.
A lovely working environment. No cubicle or windowless office could possibly be as welcoming as my home office. I can listen to classical music, burn incense, watch my orchids bloom. If I had pets, they’d be in here, too.
Personal growth. Running a business is the ultimate seminar in self-discovery. No year in business leaves me the same person as when the year began.
Security. When most people think of security, they think of health insurance, a regular paycheck, etc. When I think of security I think of knowing—absolutely—that I have the ability to create everything I need and want regardless of the economy or world events.
Values in action. What I am most passionate about is what I express through my business. I never have to compromise the things that matter most to me.
Variety. Doing the same thing, in the same place, with the same people day after day is death to the creative spirit. I love doing many things, but I don’t want to do any one of them every single day.
Freedom. Now more than ever our freedom is threatened. Participating in one of our greatest freedoms, the free enterprise system, is standing up for this valuable gift. People who take freedom for granted are most likely to lose it.
Health and longevity. Studies show that people who love what they do for a living are apt to live longer and age more dynamically. Without the stress that accompanies most jobs today, we are free to become as healthy as we can be.
Fascinating friends. I love being around people who are passionate about the contribution they’re making in the world, who are excited about new ideas, who are committed to their own growth. I can’t imagine spending time complaining about my supervisor, the company, or co-workers.
Mistakes. Yes, you read correctly. I have no fear about making mistakes and even failing miserably sometimes. It’s part of the learning process. It’s also really empowering to know I can make mistakes and it’s not the end of the world. Most of the time it’s a learning opportunity.
Perfect benefits. Being the boss means I get to decide what benefits I should give myself. Retirement accounts, health insurance, and time off are available to the self-employed, too. The difference is we get to decide what the package should contain. Mine once gave me an eight-month travel sabbatical.
Tax advantages. The American tax system is structured to favor the very wealthy and the self-employed. I may never love paying taxes, but I am delighted to take advantage of the breaks given to a small business.
Lifelong learning. For me, the best thing about being self-employed is that it gives me a perfect excuse to keep learning. Staying curious is also essential to longevity and personal growth.
There’s more where this came from.
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