It’s crazy to think of the person I was back in 2009 versus who I am today. I would never have thought in a million years I would become self-employed after college – but that is exactly what happened.
I had already succeeded in earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree from a major University and had the extremely fortunate advantage to starting out entirely debt free. Yet, I was scared, lost and confused with no direction.
I worked part time retail making crap wages, and didn’t know how I was going to find anything better.
I can give all sorts of excuses as to why I couldn’t get a better job. There were way too many college graduates, not enough jobs. I had chosen a crappy major. Oh, and I graduated right into the peak of the recession.
Yeah, I think those played a part.
But there were bigger issues.
I just really felt like I didn’t exactly “fit in” anywhere. Sure, I had the opportunity to take on more lucrative job opportunities. But they were high pressure sales jobs, and customer service isn’t exactly my thing. When you struggle with social anxiety it’s just too overwhelming. I mean, even handling the position of checking people out at the grocery store was enough to make me wish I was dead every single day.
The path to self-employment
I didn’t exactly jump out of bed one day and decide I would start my own business. But I did decide to change my life, and that is how it happened.
You see, I am a firm believer you should pursue your passions and not force yourself to be miserable in a job you hate the rest of your life.
But I know, I get it. I understand this is real life and you need to make money.
But, people complain how horrible the economy is – low wages, long hours, how workers are severely undervalued. Many large companies would not hesitate to outsource or eliminate your position if it meant saving a buck.
And I’m not saying I don’t agree that the economy is bad and workers aren’t getting paid enough. But things aren’t going to miraculously change soon and there are alternatives that most people would never consider.
You don’t HAVE to work for somebody else. I know, an outlandish thought.
But do you know how humiliating it is to see incredibly stupid people in management positions treating you like you’re below them? Like they’re better than you?
I decided I had had enough. I valued myself more than that.
Creating your own paychecks + salary increases
The freedom of being paid without having to clock in and out of a job was a huge benefit. You can do what you want, when you want. You don’t have to worry about calling in when you get sick, or about asking to take a vacation. Now don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t translate into never working, but rather you can make the decision when you work or not.
Working for someone else has always felt like being in prison to me. I never felt like I was treated as a real human. I was just another robot with no life who punches a time clock.
Another benefit of choosing to work for myself is that fact I know I can earn as much as I want to. I have the ability to scale my business to whatever level I’m comfortable at.
Think of it this way – if you accept a position out of college for $20,000 a year, you’re probably not going to earn $100,000 in the next year or two. Surely there are exceptions, like huge promotions or going into high management. But unless you completely change careers, there’s only so much of a wage raise you can get.
I literally started and earned $0 for months. People told me I was crazy.
They would ask why I thought working for nothing was better than working minimum wage. When I started earning a little bit of money, they would say it wasn’t worth it and I could never get anywhere.
But they just didn’t get it. I think most of them still don’t.
Entrepreneurship is very hard. It requires long hours, dedication, hard work and positive thinking. You can’t try and equate it to hourly wages or you will never get anywhere.
Yeah, if I tried to calculate my hourly wage in the first year it’d be pretty pathetic. I honestly couldn’t even ballpark a figure to tell you here, because I never really kept track. If I did, I would have given up long before I made any progress. You have to think long term and realize the hours you put in in the beginning will add up to down the line.
In my third year, I was able to make a profit of just under $40,000. It was a 100% increase from year 2, and I am heading in the direction of at least another 50% increase by the end of year 4 ($60,000). Examining the numbers, I wouldn’t consider it a stretch if I reached over $100,000 within the next few years.
I don’t normally share income with anybody, not even my friends or family. I am extremely humble, probably too much so. When people ask I just tell them I’m doing okay, but I don’t think they really know what that means.
You really can scale your own business to whatever level you want – it’s just a matter of investing more money and resources. I have chosen to stay small for now, and that is the power being self employed gives me. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.
Maybe I will scale up and start hiring help, but for now it’s just me.
What about the stability of self-employment?
We all have heard the scary statistics of how small business start ups commonly fail. But statistics aren’t everything.
The fact is there are a lot of college graduates who either aren’t working at all, working only part time, or in a position that doesn’t even require a four year degree. There are people getting laid off because their jobs are being eliminated, replaced by machines or outsourced. There are people getting fired for reasons they can’t control, and businesses going under every day. Having a job is not necessarily stable either.
At least venturing out on your own gives you more flexibility, freedom and forces you to enrich your knowledge base.
After I graduated I felt like I had no marketable skills, but now after years of being self-employed, I could write a killer resume that could actually land me a decent job. But for now, I chose to work for myself.