When a national corporation bought the regional telecommunications company where I worked for 17 years, my position was among the nearly 60 percent of those company-wide that were eliminated. Rather than look for a job at another company, I decided to go the self-employed route.
I was excited, motivated, and yes, a little frightened. Some friends and family members were supportive. Some didn’t quite get it.
Now that I’ve been making a successful go of it for the past five years, pretty much everyone in my life has grown comfortable with my present career path. But it has required ongoing effort to help people closest to me understand what I do—and why I do it.
Here are some of the truths about your self-employed status that the people in your life might not understand or accept when you’re first getting started:
Working From Home Isn’t Unemployment.
For serious solopreneurs, self-employment isn’t a way to kill time until they find a “real job.” While some people might do it because they don’t believe they have other options, many choose the path for the flexibility, autonomy, and income potential. According to The Solopreneur Life’s annual survey in 2014, 82.8 percent of respondents said they have at least a bachelor’s degree; 38.5 percent attained master’s degrees; and 4.3 percent are PhDs. Most solopreneurs are well-educated and most likely could find a job working for an organization if they’d really want to.
You’re Running A Business Even Though You Don’t Have Employees.
Although you don’t have multiple departments or a payroll to manage, you’re operating a bona fide small business. You’re the person responsible for your accounting, marketing, sales, administrative duties, and more. And you pay taxes (a lofty amount!) on your business’s net income. In many respects, you have more responsibility and accountability as a self-employed person than you would have working for someone else.
Your Time On Social Media Has A Purpose.
You MUST spend time—a good bit of time—on social media networks to build your business. People I know have made comments to me to the effect of, “It must be nice to play on social media whenever you want,” or “Are you always on social media?” Besides my personal Facebook page (which I don’t really spend all that much time on), my presence on other online channels is part of my marketing strategy. People who only use social media for personal purposes have a hard time wrapping their heads around the frequency and consistency required to use it successfully in a professional context. Don’t feel guilty about using social media! But do stay focused on delivering quality content to your followers, concentrate on building professional relationships, and don’t get sidetracked by watching too many cute kitty cat videos.
Realize Your Efforts To Bust The Myths May Not Be Easy—Or Successful.
As you demonstrate your self-discipline and your ability to make a living wage in your business, you’ll likely gain the support of most of the skeptics in your life. But prepare to see some relationships drift away. Your interests—and your circle of friends—will change to some degree when you’re in business for yourself.
Self-employment is an adventure in professional and personal evolution.
Do your best to help people understand that, but realize not everyone will come to terms with it or stick with you for the entire journey.
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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