Reasons why being your own brand may not the best choice for you
A post in progress. Feel free to share your thoughts here at the bottom!
Be your own boss – from home! Set your own hours! Earn 20K a month by being your own boss! Sound familiar? I sometimes wonder how good an idea it was to have attended that Tony Robbins event in 1986, or the Herbalife event in 1992 … “Your company maxes their profit by minimizing yours!” I felt so MOTIVATED! In fact, I quit my job the next day. I was working as Operations Manager for a large, Vancouver restaurant. Instead, I opened a catering company. It was pretty cool. Jazzy Greens. At some point, I decided to cut my losses and went back to school. Then to Europe. We’ve all been there, right? Starting our own business, not Europe I mean.
The internet has probably been the biggest and most recent culprit for the HUGE rise in the self-employed sector. 30% of the workforce in the USA is self-employed. In the UK, the percentage of self-employed has slipped in the last year but was up almost two million compared with twenty years ago. Anyone with a smartphone and a Canva account can now be a designer. Anyone with a Wix account can have an online shop. There are VERY positive aspects to this technology. It has opened the doors to millions of people around the world who would otherwise not be where they are today. Myself included.
This is not a post intended to demotivate you. Perhaps, just perhaps, being your own boss is not for you. It isn’t for everybody, and that’s okay. You might remember Brideshead talking with Charles and saying (quoted loosely) “You are under no moral obligation to become a member of parliament, or to walk ten miles a day. It isn’t for everyone.” Quite true. Just because everyone is pushing you doesn’t mean you need to go to the head of the line. The middle is also a very good place to be.
My Jerry Maguire moment
I spent two hours last week talking with a potential client. It’s the second online meeting we’ve had. It became very clear to me that they would probably not be successful in their venture. They were very keen, very motivated, and very capable. However, the competition in their market is very high. They have small children and limited time. They have a very small marketing budget available.
After these second two hours, I had the gut feeling that I could spend more time with them but their money might be better used as a buffer against a rainy day. Their idea was good, but they would not be able to compete with current, larger, players. They did not have the resources (time, knowledge, money) to devote to the intensive content marketing, google ads, and SEO necessary to compete for eyes on social media nor google search. Before contacting me they already gave out a large amount of money to an agency for google ads. That agency doesn’t appear to have any scruples.
The next thought I had was they might be better off supporting their family by being employed rather than employing themselves.
I do not feel comfortable taking their money, because I know it would be wasted. How do you tell someone that? When do you decline a client? Gently.
Sometimes clients that have been successful lose that employee who really made it work, and they expect vendors to step into the void. Sometimes that is how the client found themselves in that predicament – expecting too much from one person. @KFIWeb
Do we need to be our own brand?
I have been self-employed for the last three years, but I have always had private clients on the side of any full-time employment. There are many times that I look at envy on employed friends. When I’m sick and can’t work (don’t get paid), when I am on vacation (don’t get paid), when I retire (no retirement contributions), when I pay my health insurance (no employer contribution) etc. I love the security of being employed.
There are many benefits to being my own boss. I purposely haven’t written “my own brand”. This is something I will talk about in class, but I do so with a bit of a cringe. Do we talk about being our own brand because we feel elevated when we talk about ourselves as a product? I mean, we are in many ways. Still. Seems a bit cringey. But I digress.
I love the freedom of being self-employed. I can work at 6 am and take breaks when I want. I don’t need to sit in an office or go to meetings that would have been a better email. I define what projects I take on and what projects I decline. Of course, there are two sides to every decision.
7 reasons why being your own boss may not be the best thing for you
Here is where the “work in progress” activity begins! There are some serious considerations to being your own boss. Let’s look at being your own boss honestly before we think about driving Lamborghinis in Dubai.
What are your (additional) responsibilities? Who is relying on you? Kids? Pets? Parents? If it’s just yourself you’re lucky.
How long can you survive between clients? We’re not only talking about money here. Your physical and mental health are factors too. We’re probably also talking about emotional security. Do you have a partner? Do they support you 101%?
The buck stops with you. Always. There is no one to dump on. You can only blame yourself. Barry from Sales doesn’t exist anymore. YOU are Barry from Sales. And you’re Karen from Client Services too.
Your next performance review will be very different. When was the last time you were honest with yourself about something? Really? You need to be tough because your business is depending on it.
You need grit, resolve, and self-discipline. A lot of it. All the time. You are the entire company. Marketing, services, production, logistics, fulfillment, accounting. It’s all you Boss!
Are you working from home? That has its own pitfalls. Are you the house slave? Does the laundry or the need to vacuum distract you? Are you zooming with kids in the background? How is your stress level?
We talked about employer contributions. How much do you need to earn each month? I mean REALLY earn? After taxes, utilities, etc. Is this sum realistic?
What should you charge as a freelancer? The answer is more than you think. When you first start, you’ll have to throw out pricing and see what sticks. Then you can go back and do some job costing and figure out how much you should charge. This includes covering your own sick days, vacation, and retirement. If you want the freedom of freelancing, then you have to be responsible like a business owner. Get out of the employee mindset.” https://bridgetwillard.com/how-get-started-freelancer/ @BridgetMWillard
What do you think?
What are your experiences? Do you let someone down gently, or do you support them even if you know this is not the right path for them? Please send me your thoughts. I would like to include them in this post Thank you!
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With thanks for the post image to Brooke Lark https://unsplash.com/@brookelark