As someone who has been self-employed for nearly six years, it’s hard for me to listen to people complain about their jobs. In fact, while I can relate to their frustrations, as I was once there myself, I often find it intensely aggravating when they vent their issues because they just don’t understand what it’s like on the other side.
A bad boss, having to work a few hours overtime, a complaining client or annoying co-worker are the most common gripes I hear. They were the same complaints I used to voice. But now I’ve seen the other side, and I have to say, if I ever get another regular job, I won’t take it for granted.
Ease of earning an income
In every past job I’ve had, I went in to work, did my job, came home, and every two weeks, I got paid for my efforts. While I put forth plenty of effort for my previous employers, whether the week was particularly successful or not, I got paid. I had my particular specialization within the organization, had my regular work duties, and had a set schedule. Things were pretty cut and dry.
As a self-employed individual though, things are often very much different for me. There is no specialization now – I’m director of marketing, information technology, finance and tax policy, guest relationships and customer service, and about everything else that goes into managing a business. And maybe most importantly, there is no guarantee of a regular paycheck. One week I might be paid, the next I might not, or it might not be much if I do. There is no regular paycheck upon which I can count, and finding that money is up to me, which at times, can be kind of scary.
Career progression and structured feedback
When you’re on you own as a self-employed individual, it can be hard to know which way to go next. Which career step is right? What goals should be set moving forward? How to market yourself or your business? When is it time to cut losses and move on to something new?
That’s one of the things that I really miss about a regular job. I used to get an annual review in which goals were set out for the new year, past progress was reviewed and critiqued, and we discussed career progression and future options. Things were laid out clearly, and if I met my goals, the powers that be were happy and I knew that in all likelihood, I’d be retaining my job and likely be getting a raise. This isn’t always the case in the self-employment world.
Benefits are huge
Those of us who work for ourselves often tout the benefits of being self-employed, but these benefits are largely focused on the intrinsic values of the role. Freedom of structure, being our own bosses, and avoiding the time constraints of a typical 9-5 job are some of the more commonly mentioned aspects. Plus, in many cases, we get to do something we enjoy or even love as our work. However, there can be huge downsides in being self-employed when it comes to certain monetary benefits.
Things like employer-sponsored benefits such as retirement savings plans, health insurance, vision and dental plans, and many other perks – things like uniform or clothing reimbursements, meal plans, transportation or parking discounts, etc. – may be nonexistent (or extremely costly) for the self-employed.
It can be hard to realize just how much an employer-sponsored work role can offer before you leave it. But at least trying to grasp the value of such benefits before they are gone may at least help keep from taking such a role for granted.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional or career counselor. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.