4 Truths About Being Self Employed That No One Wants to Discuss

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With all of the attention on “becoming an entrepreneur” and “taking control of your own destiny” these days, we tend to see a lot of positive attention given to becoming your own boss. Being self-employed can certainly be an empowering feeling, offering you the chance to make your own hours, decide your own pay rate, and never have to answer to a boss. But there are things those self-employment gurus won’t tell you, and here we’ll discuss four of them. Unfortunately, being self-employed isn’t all glitz and glamor.

1. It’s Tiring and Stressful

Have you ever been stressed out from a day at work, or totally exhausted? Pretty common feeling to have, right? Now imagine you’re responsible for everything that occurs within the company. You’re in charge. You make all the decisions. You take all of the responsibility for when things go wrong. You deal with unhappy customers. You take the loss when sales are down. Now re-imagine that bad day at work with all of those added factors, and you’ve got a day in the life of the self-employed.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s pretty close to the mark. You won’t always have bad days when you’re self-employed, but the point is, you’re running things, so the responsibility falls on you every time. There’s no backup, only you to deal with that customer that wanted their order delivered 12 hours ago.

Stress is one of the biggest factors for people that are self-employed. And, believe it or not, stress is actually quite harmful to both the mind and the body. Stress hormones can make you feel more tired, anxious, ache in places you didn’t think possible, and make you feel burnt out after enough time. The success gurus never seem to mention that part!

2. Self-Employment Can Affect Your Mental Health Negatively

Mental health is one of those topics that isn’t quite taboo in our society but also isn’t openly addressed on a wide scale thanks to stigma and misinformation. Mental health conditions affect about one in five adults worldwide, and suicide connected to mental illness is the leading cause of death in people age 15-19. That’s not to say it doesn’t affect those older than this; in fact, depression is most common in people 12-35 years of age.

When you spend long hours “grinding” to build your business, you’re putting both your mind and body through incredible stress. Failures and obstacles can seriously impact your self-esteem, which can become a slippery slope into conditions like depression or anxiety disorders. If you find yourself falling down this slippery slope, talk to a psychiatrist and don’t wait long until you reach out for help. Self-employment is difficult, and many self-employed people forget to make time for themselves. When you’re thinking “what is wrong with me?”, just remember that it could just be that you need a break.

The gurus will tell you that you must grind 24/7 in order to be successful, but the fact is, no amount of money can buy back your time or your sanity. You can be the most successful person in the world financially and still be mentally unhealthy. Put your mental health first.

3. Self-Employed People Often Sacrifice Friends and Family

This misconception that you must put all of your efforts into your business needs to be addressed. While you should certainly put significant effort into your business and doing what you love, at the end of the day, all of that success doesn’t mean a thing if you’re alone. Alienating friends and family in pursuit of financial success can feel incredibly hollow once you get there. Ok, so now you make 100k per year, but you’ve sacrificed everyone that mattered in your life to get there. Now what?

Friends and family form our support groups, and without people to help you up when you fall, those long nights will seem even longer. We all need someone to help us out once in a while, and good, stable relationships are what makes the human experience so incredible. Don’t sacrifice everyone you love for the business!

4. It’s Not A Guarantee of Success

Another thing we seem to hear from the gurus is how self-employment is the best way to achieve success. They’re constantly pressing the message of “you can’t be happy or successful until you work for yourself”. While being self-employed certainly helps many people feel successful and satisfied with their lives, it’s not for everyone. Some people simply aren’t designed to be self-employed. Others thrive in team environments where they’re a contributor rather than a leader, and that’s ok.

Not everyone has what it takes to be their own boss. Just remember that if you chase the self-employment dream, and you find that it’s just not for you, there’s no shame in going back to being employed by someone else. Being self-employed isn’t a guarantee of success and financial freedom. You’re going to take more risks than if you’re an employee. You’re going to take all of the blame and responsibility when things go wrong. And you’re absolutely tied to whatever financial mishaps occur with your business.

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John is a serial entrepreneur and writer who is passionate about helping small businesses launch and grow. His work has been featured in Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and Forbes.