Is Self-Employment For You…Or Not?

“I last trudged off to work for a full-time employer on the Monday after Thanksgiving, 1989. I was fired from my job that day, my third firing or layoff in less than four years. In at least two of those axings, the boss intimated I was about as valuable to the company as a dish of paper clips.

“That did it. I’d had enough of working for people I didn’t respect but who had control over how much I earned, when I woke, when I lunched, what I wore, when I went on vacation and more. So I struck out on my own. I didn’t really believe I’d succeed. In fact, I was almost certain I would fail. But the idea of being my own boss for at least a while was far less abhorrent than shambling through a skein of interviews for jobs I was sure to detest,” Jeffrey Steele, independent writer, explains in his article, “Ain’t-Trepreneurs.”

You may be perfectly happy and rewarded at your job (and you have a job!), working for a great boss. Or, you may be in transition, have an entrepreneurial spirit and are considering establishing your own business. As you evaluate your options Jeffrey offers some interesting perspectives.

“It’s almost 22 years later, and I can say with near 100% surety I will never again take a nine-to-five job. Since launching my own gig, I’ve earned much more money, enjoyed infinitely more prestige and savored far more autonomy than I ever did working for someone else. I truly believe hanging my own shingle saved me from a life of misery. It may have kept me from a steady diet of anti-depressants or even a fortnight in a rubber room.

“As I built my business, I had opportunities galore to meet and size up other people starting their own businesses. That brings me to the message of this opus. There are some folks who should never, ever be in business for themselves. If you see yourself in one of the following types, question the wisdom of going it alone. If you see yourself in two, think long and hard before scheduling a launch party. And if you see yourself in three or more, save the cost of a start-up, and don’t ever let the word “entrepreneur” ever pass your lips.”

Ready for a few of Jeffrey’s “Ain’t-Trepreneurial” tips?

“Ms. Style-Over-Substance. Some individuals have always wanted to open their own business, but for reasons of form rather than function. When I started, they had the coolest holographic business cards and best stationery. Today, they’d own the most up-to-the-minute phone and the greatest looking Facebook page. Regrettably, their attention to customer needs is far less keen, leading to an early exit from the ranks of the self-employed.

“Mr. Nine-to-Five. Spend a long time as an employee, and you can get used to eight-hour workdays. But you better get unaccustomed to them quickly if you want to make a go of your own business. Some weeks, you’ll have nothing to do but prospect. Others, you’ll be working night and day. If you must knock off each afternoon at five, you’d better keep your day job. There’s no such thing as succeeding at business without really trying.

“Ms. They-Don’t-Respect-Me! Don’t open a business with the intent of gaining respect or winning arguments with a client. The client didn’t hire you to duke it out in debates, or to commission a statue in your likeness, but rather to solve some pressing problem. When you do solve that problem, you may or may not win respect, but you will win repeat business.

I have a friend who started her own concern, and often checks in to say she had to argue with a client about a fee or her work’s quality. I tell her to recall retail pioneer Marshall Field’s adage that the lady is always right. When you’ve built a thriving enterprise and don’t have to go work for someone else, you’ve earned the most important respect: Your own.”

Jeffrey adds that “self-employment is a process of self-discovery. I realized that I was far more disciplined and motivated than I had ever imagined. I also had more ability and creativity than I had given myself credit for.”

If, however, you tried self-employment but decided that it was not for you, you will approach your next career move and position with more experience, insights and opportunities.

If you’re looking for self-employment inspiration visit Jeffrey Steele at

We also invite you to share your experiences – working for yourself or working for others – with First Person Public Relations.

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