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24 self employment myths people love to trot out

March 13, 2015

SELF EMPLOYMENT MYTHWant to kick off the drudgery of 9 to 5 and take on the dizzying high life of being self-employed? Check out these 24 self employment myths you’ll hear before you do! Because marketing freelancers to the rest of the business world is not always the little pile of happiness others assume.

  1. You can work your own hours all the time. No, unfortunately you’ll still have to work some semblance of the hours that match your customer base. It’s a little more flexible, sure.
  2. It’s as simple as setting up a blog. Blogging is great marketing, but you’re looking at 6 to 12 months of regular blogging to see some solid results. And only then if you resonate with the audience. Marketing freelancers is a lot more involved than slapping up some words and hoping for the best. Self employment is about hustle. More on that later.
  3. People will buy anything. Actually, people only buy things that solve their problems. Even if that problem is the apparent desire for a unicorn costume they wear once and forget about. Nice to have or “ooh shiny” won’t cut the mustard in the long haul.
  4. If you do what you love, it will shine through. This is a lovely idea, but it’s false. It takes more than love to create customer interest in your product. It’s also why you can be successful in business without having to adore the products you sell. So despite what a lot of (female) soloists would like you to think, marketing freelancers is not about coughing up rainbows or photographing seductive coffee meeting locations.
  5. You can only introduce new ideas and concepts if you live in the city. Many successful, innovative businesses come from regional Australia- both online and off. Big populations don’t determine the success of your business, what you aim to solve for the people does.
  6. Once you get the first sale, you’re on your way. Any business person worth their salt will tell you the main aim of the game is the repeat business. Aim to build rapport.
  7. All you need is social media. The social media myth is a lot like the blogging myth. It takes time, and you need to work at it to make it work for you. And having a social media presence doesn’t mean sales. It could mean branding or community, too. And these are 3 different things.
  8. You can work with whoever you want. While being the captain of the ship does mean truly offensive people can be thrown overboard, you still need to have customers to have a business. And that does mean occasionally needing to work with people you may not be a fan of, especially in the beginning.
  9. You’ll have to work all the time. While yes, you do spend time doing taxes on weekends or hustling after hours, the successful and clever self employed people don’t train themselves to be a slave to the job. In fact, they take time out for self-care. True story.
  10. If you love your work, you don’t need to have holidays. I blame Seth Godin for putting the romantic notion that if you do what you love, you can do it all the time, any time. Self employed people still have families, still need holidays and still have to have nights off watching crap TV, too. Otherwise you get a little stale, stressed and fatigued. Stop marketing freelancers as alternatives to robots, y’all!
  11. It gives you the freedom to have a family. Well, yes and no. You have to be super organised in the small amount of kid-free hours you get. Plus, if you think there is steam coming out of the ears of a parent during school holidays, don’t go anywhere near the ones that are self employed and work from home. There’s enough steam to sauna the whole of Sweden.
  12. It’s not about the money. Try explaining that to the electricity board or your landlord. You need to pay yourself. You need to have a plan to make money. Because nobody wants to be paid by you in empty promises and meatballs.
  13. You’ll make more money. Maybe you do sell something that makes you a much higher hourly rate. But you also have to forget sick days, public holidays, paid leave of any description, organise your own tax and superannuation. And you’ll spend a lot of time doing tasks that are not directly client servicing and therefore don’t generate revenue directly. Plus you need to pay for all your tax, business administration – and you’ll spend the early stages of your self employment gaining momentum so you can ask for higher rates.
  14. Money is the only motivation you need. There’s no denying money makes life easier, but it takes a special kind of person to face all the challenges inherent with running their own business for money alone. You cannot pin your hopes on money, because when it’s hard to come by (and there will be times this happens), you make the job of ploughing through all that more difficult.
  15. You’ll be able to sell the business at a profit. If you decide to leave self-employment, there are no guarantees you’ll make a profit. Nothing is 100% certain in business.
  16. You need an office to look professional. Did you know that even Fortune 500 will have meetings in coffee shops and people working from home if the footprint they need in a certain territory is small? What makes you professional is how professional you are. Not some rented piece of real estate.
  17. You need to wait for the right time to launch. GFCs, recessions and a million other things stop people from launching their business ideas every day. The truth is, if you meet a need and have something to offer people, people will pay for it. Don’t let waiting for optimal conditions impede your launch. After all, an un-launched business makes less money than any other business on the planet.
  18. You need to make sure everything is perfect before you open. Nothing is ever perfect in business. Smart business people know they are constantly reinventing their business model, re-writing their copy, looking at their marketing, reviewing their product lines and searching for (and firing) customers. Perfect schmerfect.
  19. Self employment is riskier than a “proper job”. If you are self employed, you are in control of your destiny. If you have a “proper job”, you can be great at that job, but still only be a line in a balance sheet someone needs to cut. In fact, making yourself redundant is a lot less common than some company doing it.
  20. It’s very isolating. Most self employed people start making their sales the minute they start properly meeting other people. Customers, other self employed people, mentors, coaches, people who just enjoy business- all these connections keep you alive and energised. And they occur online and in person.
  21. You get to focus on what you love. Actually, 40% of the time you are working close to what you love. 40% of the time you’re doing other tasks you have to do but don’t really love at all. 10% of the time you are flailing wildly as the next crisis strikes. 8% you either spend chasing people who haven’t paid or furiously ferreting out the next set of customers. And 2% is pure happiness.
  22. You get stuck doing the same old thing. Only if you are the sort of person who would get stuck doing the same old thing regardless. Most self employed people are pretty damn good at diversification, snuffling out new adventures and keeping their flow happening. This is up to you.
  23. You face more stress. Yes and no. Yes if you can’t pay bills, work too much and keep saying yes to terrible customers and bad ideas. No if you respect your cash flow, give yourself time off and keep your wits about you.
  24. You can’t afford to lose customers. You can’t be a cranky bastard that no one can work with, but you can afford to say no to customers who aren’t right for you. Customers that aren’t right for you cost you time and confidence. It’s far better to have less money than less time and confidence once you have your basic cost of living and operating covered.

Want to bust a few self employment myths?

Stay tuned for more instalments or join me for the 100 Days of Freelance Trek now. 

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