Illustration by Ece Ciftci

How do you manage when self-employment seems unmanageable?

A happy, fairytale ending… Whether it is our personal life or career, it seems to be what we are all constantly on the lookout for. The internet is full of “formulas” for finding “the one”, getting the promotion you’ve always wanted, or setting up your own venture. Yet what these instructions sometimes lack is guiding you on what happens after you manage to do so. Happy endings may be true when it comes to self-employment; it comes with a price and takes a toll. This article may help you decide if you are ready to take on the risks.

In our age, it is common for each of us to believe we are special. Not that we do not have unique features that separate us from everyone else, but this does not necessarily mean that all our dreams will come true. Then again, a right approach may make all the difference. You are not the only one to think 9-to-5 jobs are not the right fit for you but do not underestimate where that experience can get you. If you’ve established a career in a field, be careful when you are abandoning it and make sure you are not doing this just to run away from somewhere. Otherwise, you may be baffled by the long hours you will have to endure to make your brand new business work. To start your own venture, you have to be ready for the lifestyle it brings. Embrace this change and try to find ways to help you benefit from it. After all, it was Foucault who said “The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” (Martin, L.H et. al.,1988)

That being said, let us proceed with a riddle-like question. “What does writing this article and setting up your own business have in common?” The answer is simple; starting both of them from scratch is hard. You have to manage your time and effort wisely, sometimes deal with a crippling self-doubt.

You may feel lonely and that the whole world is sitting on your shoulders. Still, the most crucial thing to know may be the importance of showing up for the fight and run towards what you fear. You are lucky to have found the opportunity to come this far and need only to find the ways to carry it further.

Sticking with the features specific to self-employment, there is the issue of building your team. According to a study conducted on 1,107 Dutch founders of new ventures, the founders with high levels of specific human capital are more satisfied with their jobs and have more leisure time as opposed to those with high levels of general human capital. (Carree & Vermeil, 2011) That means you have to make sure you have exactly the right person for each job and delegate the tasks accordingly, which only builds on the pressure. Being an employer also means you have to deal with managing finances, salaries, costs, insurance. You are running the show and will have to make a lot of decisions on your own. Good news is you will receive all the credit if you succeed, but guess what the bad news about responsibility is? If you are one of those people who take ages to order anything at a restaurant, you may find self-employment to be kind of a nightmare.

The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.

Being the boss means that you will have to be the bad person on occasion. This does not necessarily mean you have to go Miranda Priestly on people what it means that there will be times where you have to make rules and ensure everybody complies to those rules. The key is taking the time to communicate. Remember the part about specific human capital; you cannot do this on your own and that is really okay. Making rules also cover the unique ones for your own success, which brings us to our last point. Bear with us; this may be the most important of all.

You may read and learn about all the tips, get all the special wisdom from those who have succeeded long before you, but if you come to find that something else works for you, it works. Period. You may hear about the importance of time management, but if you realize that procrastination serves you in becoming a better version of yourself, then go crazy. Find the thing that works for you and never refrain from owning it.

Luckily, an education may help. A study conducted by Farrah Merlinda Muharam from the University of Technology in Malaysia (2014) found out that self-employment intention was significantly influenced by entrepreneur education and perceived desirability of self-employment.

Here at LITE:, we do not believe in magical formulas, but journeys that feel like fairytales are possible with a right approach.