If you're considering launching a "side hustle" or leaving your 9-5 for a great business idea you'd like to pursue, this post is for you. Entrepreneurship can seem great, and it definitely is in many ways, but it also has its downsides and struggles too. Here are some things to think about before you take the plunge.
Self-employment has always been a goal for many but thanks to the perfect-seeming Instagram world it's becoming even more popular. Traveling for a living for your travel blog? #Goals. Getting free clothes and products while also getting paid to wear them as an Influencer? Amazing. Almost everyone you talk to nowadays is "building their brand" and self-employment is most definitely on the rise.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 1 in 9 American workers is self-employed. Other estimates put that number closer to 1 in 6. 1 in 3 Americans has freelanced in the last year and over $1.2 trillion in total income is generated by the self-employed every year.
As someone who quit the 9-5 to launch their own business (more than one actually!), I know a thing or two about the trade-offs. Here are some thinking points.
1. Be prepared to work longer hours.
Just about 50% of all self-employed Americans work more than 44 hours in a typical work week, compared to 39% of workers overall (even less in government and non-profit work).
Personally, since I mostly work on Heist from my home studio, I find that the line between work life and home life is blurry at best, but mostly non-existent. Outside of "studio hours", you can find me answering emails, stitching leather on my couch, shooting and editing photos, marketing, social media, ordering supplies, etc. etc. It's non-stop. More often than not, I fall asleep dreaming of new designs and popping my eyes back open to sketch something or add to my to-do list.
2. It's Rewarding.
Falling asleep dreaming up new designs for your own business? Waking up in the morning excited to make the prototype? Watching what happens after launching a new product? It's all very exciting. You're not building someone else's brand, this is all yours! If you're passionate about what you do, you won't mind putting in all those hours. But don't fall into the "if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life" mindset. Let's be real, work is work. And there will absolutely be some days where you just don't want to do it, which leads me to my next point.
3. There. Are. No. Days. Off.
At least not at first. Assuming you won't be launching a full company with systems in place and employees to oversee those systems, you're going to need to be there to put in the work. If you're a one-(wo)man business, like I am in Heist, when you're not there to do the work, it doesn't get done. Eventually you can hire people to lighten your load (if you even aspire to scale your business to the size where you're hiring employees), but be prepared to be the only one running your business for a good, long while.
4. It can be Isolating but...
I talked about this in Forbes (still can't believe I can say that!) and it's still completely true, working for yourself can be isolating. There are days when I'm in my studio and when I finally come up for air, the entire day has passed and I haven't spoken to anyone. It takes some getting used to and it definitely isn't for everyone. But here's the thing, I don't have a commute. I don't have to pack my lunch for the next day. I can run my errands on a Tuesday morning when everyone else is at work. It's all about finding the balance.
And one more thing, self-employed people tend to be happier! In a recent survey, two-thirds of self employed people stated they were highly satisfied with their situation whereas only 9% said they were dissatisfied. That's something to think about.
5. Money, or Lack Thereof.
Ok, you know we had to go there. First the negative. When you're self-employed the money is anything but predictable. I've prepped for months getting ready for the holidays and had lackluster sales. I've also been caught off-guard when my January sales were unexpectedly booming. So if you're self employed, you need to do a LOT of planning and saving. You don't have that steady income stream to rely on and it can vary wildly from month to month. And don't forget the benefits. You're paying for things like insurance straight out of pocket and omg can those expenses add up. Just keep this in mind.
Now for the positive. Two-thirds of American millionaires are self-employed. There may be rough times, it might start slow, it might seem hopeless at times but the potential for earnings is bigger than you can even imagine. It does happen. So why not you?