Is Self Employment for You?

Have you ever fantasized about being your own boss?  Would you like to throw away your resume and start working for yourself?  Self employment can be a scary prospect, but it can also be one that brings you success and job satisfaction.  Consider these questions to determine if self employment is for you:

Are you a hard worker?  According to a survey conducted by Environics Research in 2010, “Small business owners punch in about 47.6 hours a week.” (Source: With self employment, your efficiency and effectiveness determines your success.  There is no supervisor to push you.  If you don’t make money, you don’t get paid.

Can you tolerate an unpredictable income?  When you are self employed, you often do not receive a consistent, predictable income.  Some weeks you make lots of money, and other weeks you don’t.  It is important to evaluate your life situation to assess if self employment will meet your needs.  For example, if you have young children and you are the primary breadwinner, then self employment may not be an appropriate option for you at this time.  It is also important to consider your own personal tolerance to risk.  Some people thrive in the face of uncertainty, while others crumble.  Are you comfortable with the insecurity of self employment?  Will it keep you up at night, making you prone to stress related illnesses?

Do you crave independence?  Self employment is ideal for motivated people who work well on their own.  You still need to achieve results, but you decide how the work is done.

Are you organized?  When you are self-employed, you are responsible for making sure that your business adheres to all relevant legislation.  This also includes paying taxes and making the required contributions to the Canadian Pension Plan.

Are you flexible?  When you run your own business, you may find yourself meeting with a member of parliament in the morning and scrubbing a toilet in the afternoon.  You need to do whatever the situation demands for your business to be successful, and you should do it with a smile.

Can you afford your own benefits?  It is easy to forget the benefits that you receive when you are working for someone else.  Vacation time, a dental and drug plan, and a retirement plan are all benefits that you need to cover when you are self employed.  Don’t forget to include these benefits in your budget; they can get expensive.

Are you passionate about what you are doing?  This is the most important question.  With any job, passion will help you be successful, but when you are self employed, it is like oxygen.  Without passion, you will not have the enthusiasm to get people excited about your dream, and you won’t have the drive to push through the challenges and succeed where so many others fail.

(Written by:  Karen Bivand)

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