I’ve been working for myself for about a year and a half now. There are plenty of stark differences between the flexible, self-made environment of an entrepreneur and the rigid ecosystem of corporate; however, I have noticed time and again some notable misconceptions among friends, family and others who don’t know what the self-employed world is like.
Here are five myths that keep creeping up in conversation:
1. You can take all the breaks you want: I was sick the other month and I remembered a friend flippantly remarking, “Well, the good thing is that you can just take a break whenever you want.”
This is not usually the case. Having an entrepreneurial spirit means getting to run your business the way you want, but it doesn’t mean you can take breaks whenever you want. This is especially true in my field, where deadline-driven projects must be completed in line with clients’ marketing campaigns. I work in an apartment complex with a beautiful pool, and I often find myself wishing I had the time to go lay out, get a tan and relax. The fact of the matter is, if you’re working for yourself and your business is doing well, you’re going to have those staring-out-the-window moments just like everyone else. This doesn’t mean we don’t love what we do, of course. It just means we’re busy like everyone else!
Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t pull myself away from work when needed. I’m not going to lie, it’s a really nice perk that I can throw in a load of laundry or do dishes in-between projects (if I’m really lucky, I can spare an hour to go grocery shopping!) I also try to pull myself away from work a couple of times a week to go for a bike ride or run, because it’s important that I get outside. That is the kind of time freedom that is simply priceless when you work for yourself. I don’t have time, however, for laying on the couch Netflix binging or hanging by the jacuzzi.
2. You make your own hours: Yes and no. Yes in the sense that we’ll bend the rules if we must, but we’d much rather not. Similar to you, we don’t want to be working at 8 PM at night. We’d much rather get our work done during normal business hours when we’re operating at peak capacity. For me, my average workday is 8 am to around 4 pm with a lunch break and often a gym break in-between. That means my average day is around 6 hours, give or take. Some days may be slower, some days may be crazier. Monday, for instance, I worked a straight 8 hours with no lunch. Last week, I worked a couple nights as needed. Overall, I try to limit myself to a max of 6 hours of work per day, as I feel that’s as much as I can handle intellectually without compromising my quality of work. This is certainly a difference from my days of corporate where 10-12 hour days were the norm. This is another truly priceless benefit of working for yourself.
3. You can work anywhere: Do I WISH. We had some friends over the other day and we showed them the pool area, where there are several cabanas. One friend remarked, “How cool is it that you can come out here and work.” That would be cool if I could. You see, working for yourself is still work. I totally understand this misconception; you work for yourself, so you can work wherever.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s ridiculously awesome to be able to work in sweatpants and tank tops all day. Just like everyone else, however, the environment in which you work must be conducive to the work you do. For me personally, I need near-complete silence. My job is all mental and no physical; I am strategizing, researching and writing. I spend most of the day in my own idea-filled head, driven by a specific vision I conjure for each individual client project. For me, loud or repetitive noises (people talking, especially) feels like someone repeatedly pulling my arm, dragging me out of the chair I’m sitting in. I’m half sitting, half collapsing.
In addition to this are other considerations; for instance, I require a specific level of Internet connectivity to work as productively as possible. This often makes it difficult to work from anywhere.
In the end, I love being self-employed and 100000000% prefer it over corporate. In fact, I have no intention of ever going back! Cheers to creating your own path.