In my own words, I would possibly say that self-employment is a good amount of vision, a good amount of passion and an even larger amount of luck. However, luck can be defined as very many things and quite honestly is very subjective. In my case of luck, I had a few key members who have opened doors for me along the way. Giving appropriate credit to my wife, she was the biggest instigator of me taking the leap of faith against my own resistance to become self-employed. There was also that external motivation of hating my current routine of jumping from company to company and the corporate nature of having a job.
I base my perspective on observations of a professional counterpart (who is also an owner/operator self-employed entrepreneur) as well as my personal journies through self-employment. I want to make sure that people know prior to going into self-employment that there are unforeseen conditions that I think it would be best if at least understood to be a possibility. The major thing I want you to understand (which is why I'm mentioning it now before we get into the longer article that this could possibly become) is that it is a lot of work.
The workload is insane. I believe I work harder now being self-employed than I ever have as an employee working for any random company. I am sure you are well aware of the cliche' used by many business owners as an ominous forewarning to potential entrepreneurs that sounds something like "when you have your own business, you never leave work. It follows you everywhere". Unfortunately, this is very true. Your livelihood depends on the capabilities of your business to succeed. With that being said, you (the owner) have to furnish the business with all resources needed to execute its particular function. Those preparations require a tremendous amount of attention, upkeep, and monitoring. All these things require dedicated time.
It is a very good idea to understand your own sleep cycles as it relates to the demand hours of your business. This information will allow you to be at your best and make the most successful use of your time.
Jobs within your business There are a lot of behind-the-scenes jobs as well as functional operations that your business does on the daily basis. For example, there is the marketing aspect of your new profession. Your business is only as successful as it is patronized. Uncle Sam will definitely want his cut from your profits, so accounting is inevitably going to be a part of your new passion profession. Going further into examples of jobs that support your operations more directly are cleaning and stocking. These types of jobs are easily forgotten and can cause for a poor client experience if not acknowledged by the owner-operator.
Operations As well as the little nitpicky job that has to happen to maintain and streamline the process of owning and operating a business. The daily operations must indeed happen. These things are what the job does. In my case, this is the process scheduling clients, client intake, bodywork, as well as pre-session and post-session consultations. The main responsibility of my operation is to create a great experience for my client from the time my client arrives at my office until the client is released back into the wild.
Revenue It costs a lot of money to get things started and off the ground. It costs to keep inventory. It costs to have employees/ independent contractors. It costs to have a storefront/office. It costs to advertise. Bookkeeping software costs. It costs to register your business with the proper authorities ($300.00 to become an LLC in Texas).
Most of these things are required in order to run a business. Know that it's going to take a good amount of savings (or a credit card and a responsible payment plan) to transform your dream into a reality. I'm sure you've heard another cliche' from business minded people who say things like "expect three years before you get a return on investment." I'm going to say that personally, that a bit long of a time for me to work before I receive a return on investments. However, they are not fully off base. It will require some time before your business recoups the initial investment loss. This factor is not to say to avoid the risk but more of a warning to have a financial plan in place before the overall cost surprises, overwhelms and discourages you.
My Personal Experience In my case, I have a great support system including my wife, family, friends as well as my clients who push me and encourage me to continue to grow and succeed in my business endeavors. They want me to be happy and to do the things that create happiness in my career and my life. I started out very small with a handful of clients and making house calls with a spare bedroom I would use to see clients in my home. As time and my clientele progressed and grew, it was time for me to rent a small 100sq/ft office from a friend of mine looking for an office-mate. My new small office space allowed for bigger moves in a professional scope and allowed me to get my name out to the public. As I finished my college degree, word of mouth spread and business came roaring in. It was time for me to leave the co-op situation and create a space of my own. In this current situation, I am happy. The process was not fast. In fact, I will confidently say that it took me about 3-4 years of growth to get to the point where I have a very cozy, functional, and beautiful office space to call my own.
Personal Advice to the Future Entrepreneur
Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who want to see you succeed.
Don't be afraid to ask for help from those who are willing to help you.
Enjoy what you do but protect your work/life balance.
Know that every day will not go the way you originally designed it.
Plan for various circumstances but don't obsess over the probabilities.
Be thankful for the opportunity you are given each day.