5 Misconceptions About Working for Yourself (at Home)
“But you set your own hours, so you can make time to do whatever you want.”
If you’re self employed, I’m sure you’ve heard this. And other, equally annoying, misconceptions.
It can be frustrating, as a small business owner, to explain what you do and how you do it. You have to explain that working for yourself is still a job, and not every task is enjoyable, even though you’re choosing to do them.
Sometimes you feel like you can never complain. After all, you chose this…
So let’s address some of those misconceptions and how to explain them to well-meaning friends and family.
1. You Must Have So Much Fun All the Time!
Yes. And no. I love graphic design. I feel a great deal of pride in my business and in the end results of my client projects. You know what I don’t love? Taxes. Contracts. Invoicing.
Choosing to be a small business owner does mean choosing the work you do. But there’s an inevitable mountain of administration that comes with it. And, with a few exceptions, most of us dread administrative tasks.
2. Oh… So You’re Really Just a House Spouse
Confession: I’ve had this thought about other business owners. Especially those who watch kids AND work from home. Now I’ve tried it and I have so much admiration for people who successfully manage both of these things. I CAN do it, I just can’t get enough sleep or not be miserable, so for us the right choice was daycare. But more power to the people who do it all!
Basically you don’t know what’s going on with someone’s business unless you’re there behind the scenes with them. And even if you were – why judge? We’re all just doing our best, after all.
3. You Set Your Own Hours So You Have Time for X
Setting my own hours is amazing because I can work around certain things like family, or my client’s schedules. It does not magically give me more time.
And while I do know quite a few people at office jobs who goof off all day and still draw a salary, I don’t know anyone who’s self-employed and gets paid for not working. If anything, having the freedom to work any hours often means that work oozes over into time meant for other things like eating or sleeping.
4. It’s Easy
There’s this image most people form of working from home in your pajamas with a steaming cup of tea right after doing an hour or two of relaxing yoga. Or a similarly pajama-clad one where you sit at the computer for an hour or two, bang out some easy work, and then head to your video game for the rest of the day.
Unless you’ve got someone supporting you and your work-from-home job is truly a hobby, there is never downtime. Are you out of client projects? You probably should have started marketing 2 weeks ago. I have a list of marketing projects and website updates 2 pages long and somehow it never gets any shorter.
5. You Don’t Have to Make Much Because There’s No Overhead
Expenses CAN be low when you first start out, depending on what you want to do, but there’s always something. Pretty much everyone needs a website, so there’s hosting fees for that and the annual cost of domain names. You won’t get clients if no on hears about you, so unless your social media game is on-point, you’ll need to pay for ads, or networking, or some other form of marketing.
At this point, my monthly expenses are up around $750, which is a little scary if I stop to think about it too long, because it means a month without work burns about half my savings. (I know, I’m working on it!) A product-based business takes on even more risk.
None of which is to say that working for yourself and running your own business isn’t worth it. It absolutely is. For some of us.
I don’t regret a single late night (or all-nighter), or any of those stressful months wondering how long my savings would last, or even the less exciting time I spend on my finances. For me, it’s all worth it to have freedom and control and to do what I love.
But I think it’s good to clear up those misconceptions, for my fellow entrepreneurs and for those considering taking the leap. Because someone going in expecting fun, and easy work, and hours of video game time probably isn’t going to last very long.