Why I Became Self-Employed After College

college grad no directionIt’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 income quoteasking 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.

If you’re struggling to find your way, learn the steps I took.

About the Author Wendy

Wife, Mother, Entrepreneur. I've been making money online for the past 5 years with online marketing and blogging, and I love helping others learn to do the same. You can read my full story here

Leave a Comment:

Rachel C says

I am not a college graduate but I firmly agree with you on pursuing your dreams. I would love to be self-employed, especially because I am currently a stay at home mom. I have had my fair share of terrible bosses and I am willing and ready to start something new. Wealthy Affiliate sound like a great match for me. I am motivated and always looking for a new and exciting challenge. It would be so awesome to own my own website. Thank you for sharing your experience. I am bookmarking your site so I can contact you in case I have any questions along the way.

    Wendy says

    Awesome Rachel, yes as a stay at home mom this is something you should definitely pursue. 🙂 I am always available so feel free to contant me, or even email me – wendyjane@survivingaftercollege.com

    I wish you the best of luck.

Kris says

Hi Wendy,
Another great article about your experience after college. I like the way you think! It’s really nice to read of your success story but do you think that is possible for all of us? It is a shame that your science degree didn’t yield a fruitful career but I am so happy for you that you are following your true calling now. Congratulations!

    Wendy says

    Thank you Kris. I am okay with not finding a career from my degree because I ended up right where I want to be.

    I do think it is possible for anyone although it might be harder for some to acheive depending on their situation. Even so, those that are determined to make it happen can pull through and find time to make it work for them if they really wanted. Like the saying goes – if there’s a will, there’s a way!

wagreatstuff says

Hi, Wendy. Wow, you are a very brave person to jump into the uncharted water of self-employment. You are right, entrepreneurship is not easy. Some say you either have it or you don’t. Then again you are lucky to find the right vehicle. I must share this post with my children so that they get inspired and give it a try. Thanks for sharing this, Wendy.

Jason says

Hi Wendy

This article was really inspiring and it is awesome that you found a way to make etrepreneurship a reality for you. So, the fact that you can do this whether you have a job or not should make you ask yourself “why not?”

I enjoyed reading your post and it reminds me of more than a few friends who didn’t get hired after college. Too much competition led them to have to do the fast food circuits, or other jobs below their skill grade.

This was a very good read and a nice story

    Wendy says

    Yeah I think we all know people that are college graduates working lower paid positions, it is pretty common these days. I think another part of the problem is these people become complacent with their situtation and don’t try and change things.

    People can change their situation if they truly desire, it’s all about mindset.

JeffWA says

Hi Wendy,
Wow, what a truly inspirational article that you wrote, encouraging especially young adults right out of college in that becoming self-employed as opposed to “working for a boss” is something that CAN BE pursued. And can be achieved!!

You truly came forward by telling a lot of personal stuff that you went through after graduating from college and now out in the real world. The fact that you were debt-free, with no college loans to repay, as you stated also helped tremendously. A majority of grads, including myself years ago, are not so fortunate.

Yet you also informed your readers that if a person truly has a goal in mind to jump out on a limb and decide to become self-employed that it would not be a ticket to eventual financial ruin – the inability to support one’s self, pay bills, housing rent, food, and etc.

The fact that so many opportunities for self-employment now offered on the Internet makes this a realistic goal for any young adult in his/her 20’s. You are living proof of that.

As I said Wendy you wrote a very inspirational article for any person who is thinking about going at it on his/her own and being self-employed!


    Wendy says

    Thanks Jeff. It is definitely realistic, especially with the internet, but most will never try. I recieved a lot of negativity, and could tell others were thinking I was stupid for even venturing out into something like this.

    I do realize how fortunate I was to not have the debt, but I think even if I did it would just have been that much more of a motivator to earn the extra money. You can even do something like this while still working your regular job (if you have one) so the ability to earn even a little extra money can make a huge difference!

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