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What Are the Worst Parts of Being Self Employed?

By Daniel B. Kline - May 11, 2018 at 7:16AM

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There's a lot of of freedom, but that comes at a price.

Many people dream of being their own boss. They picture not having to answer to anyone, and being able to do whatever they want.

What they don't know is that being self-employed has its downsides as well. Yes, you have nobody telling you what to do, but you also have nobody taking responsibility for anything.

Being self-employed comes with incredible freedom, but it also requires taking on tremendous responsibility. When you work for yourself, at the end of the day you're responsible for making sure everything works. That can be as big-ticket as making sure you make payroll to as small as paying the electric bill or buying coffee for the office.

Before you make the leap, it's important to understand the negatives that come with being self-employed.

A man works on a laptop on a couch.

Being self-employed often lets you work wherever you want. Image source: Getty Images.

You are responsible

A few weeks ago, I checked my bank account and noticed that I did not get paid. If that happened at a big company, I would email human resources or ask my boss. In my case, I went into my payroll processing account and noticed that I had not paid myself.

As a self-employed person, whatever happens falls on your shoulders, even if you have staff handling some parts of your business. That might be as easily fixable as my payroll issue, or it could be a bigger problem.

It's lonely at the top

I work alone at the moment, but even back when I worked in an office at a small company I owned a share of, being the boss is isolating. Yes, my partner and I liked our employees, but we were also in charge. We decided whether people got raises or could take time off. That creates a level of separation no matter how well everyone gets along.

Now my situation can be lonely because I'm literally alone all day. Sometimes my only human interaction happens when picking up the coffee that I ordered and paid for via an app.

Work never stops

While this may not be true for all self-employed people, I find that it's very hard to ever justify being off. My income ties directly to my output, so whether it's a weeknight or the weekend, I'm always bothered by a nagging sensation that I should get back to work.

I fight that by setting production goals and scheduling non-work activities. Still, it's a hard feeling to fight, and I find myself going back to my laptop at times when most people are off.

Take the good with the bad

Despite all the negatives, I can't picture myself ever taking a conventional job. I currently work more hours than I did in many of my past jobs, but I have enormous freedom. I take days off when I want, work out, and take a swim most afternoons, and I'm there when my son gets home from school.

This isn't an easy life. An unexpected bout with the flu, for example, can throw off my schedule for weeks. Still, it's rewarding, and not answering to anyone is delightful. Being self-employed isn't for everyone, but if you know what to expect it can be wonderful.

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