Productivity

Is it really that risky to work for yourself?

Nick Saraev English

There is a small minority of people that actively love their jobs. They enjoy going to work every morning, have great relationships with their employers, and consider their careers fulfilling and useful.

This article is not for them.

The majority of human beings, unfortunately, do not enjoy their careers. They see them as little more than overgrown chores, and their bosses as more evolved (and more malicious) helicopter parents.

Most of us would not work for somebody else if it wasn’t necessary to our financial well-being. Bosses make us do things we don’t like for employers that largely see us as expendable. Our corporate identities are essentially line-items on some financial sheet: we’re capable of producing x widgets in y amount of time for profit z.

It’s thus understandable why a lot of us don’t care about their jobs aside from the dollar sign at the end of the month; the notion of selling your soul to a company can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Additionally, human beings are highly social animals, and as much as we’re loathe to admit it, not being on the top of any hierarchy is uncomfortable at best and infuriating at worst.

The solution to this seemingly intractible problem is to find income outside of typical employment — income that does not control your life, but gives you the freedom to live it how you would like.

Unfortunately, many find this notoriously difficult: it’s been said that self-employment embodies more risk than a lot of people are comfortable with.

But what’s the alternative? Serving eight hours per day in a workplace you loathe for people you probably don’t like? That’s almost half of your waking life. More when you consider commuting and transiting.

Is attempting to carve out your own path really that risky when you consider it in the broader context of the next fifty years? How long does it typically take to achieve self-sustenance when working on your own? A handful of months? A year?

COVID-19 saw most of my social circle unemployed. Talented people that went to school for years to specialize in profitable industries were left delivering mobile orders for Starbucks. Their income tanked, their dreams were shattered, and I doubt that some of those industries will ever recover. Is that what you would consider the safe path?

When I made the transition from employed to self-employed, I was without income for approximately three months. It was stressful. I was constantly on edge, thought I was incapable or worthless, and at times I struggled to sleep.

However, as a friend of mine reinforced the other day: that’s actually how most people live. Most people are stressed, constantly on edge, struggle to sleep, and have thoughts about their incompetence or lack of capability all the time.

After achieving break-even, most of my worries vanished, and I began to enjoy my work. Several years later, I am now at an equivalent level of income, and my personal growth ceiling is substantially higher than what a company could ever give me.

I haven’t felt truly stressed in years. After those three months in the veritable hyperbolic time chamber that was my first trial at self-employment, I am now more relaxed than ever, highly confident in my abilities, and looking forward to a bright future.

I don’t write this to brag or imply that everybody should do what I did. It was risky and only possible due to my life circumstance at the time. However, there are many of you that I suspect would be happier, less stressed, and more free choosing a different path, and it’s at least worth considering.

© Nick Saraev 2021