Myths About Self-Employment That Are Complete Nonsense

We’ve heard them all, haven’t we? Those untruths, myths and outrageous beliefs about the self-employed and work from home. They would be funny if they weren’t so tragic. Here’s my responses to some of the most common.

Myths About Working From Home That Are Nonsense

Self Employment is Not A “Proper Job”

You’re right, it’s not a proper job. No other job would expect you to do your paperwork at the weekends for no extra pay. Few jobs will expect you to spend half your day looking for work or do your own tax return. No other job will only pay you for the actual hours you work. Normal jobs are legally obliged to give you paid holiday. But you know what? I would not trade any of those things for: being in charge of my own success, the job satisfaction, the negotiation, the learning process or the variety. I would not trade this for those performance related pay and annual appraisals that are designed to ensure the company does not give you a pay rise under the veneer of career development. I would not trade my Monday mornings for yours. Nobody pressures me to come in over Christmas.

You Work From Home Because You’re Lazy

Bwuhahahahaha. Ok. Try spending weeks of 50-60 hours looking for your first client and earning £50 per week. Try hearing from a good client who needs an urgent job because somebody let them down and they are turning to you to sort it out – on a Friday night. Imagine the early starts because you have a client in California and the late night chats because you have a client in Sydney, the meetings and consultations with clients that don’t go anywhere. You will have weeks when you will worry you can’t fit it all in. The self-employed are anything but lazy. You can’t afford to be in this line of work. If you go into self-employment thinking it’s an easy way to make lots of money while doing very little, think again. I am probably more productive now than I was in previous jobs because I am responsible for earning every single penny.

It’s Not Stable

What job is stable today, really? In this country, Thatcherism killed that. Businesses have no loyalty and there is no such thing as a job for life any more. Businesses and industries come and go. Even if you work for a well-established company, your job is not secure. There is always that dreaded merger, acquisition or that nasty word downsizing. Nothing is stable and I am not sure why people persist with the idea that regular employment is more secure. Oh sure, you have a regular salary but that has been dropping in real terms in recent years, let’s be honest. In self-employment, your earning potential is not limited by a board pleading poverty.

You Don’t Like Authority / You Can’t Hold Down a “Proper Job”

A strange one, but it seems to stem from the idea that people set up businesses because they are fed up with being told what to do or are somehow struggle because they are a difficult person. Not me. I have had good and bad managers and worked for bad and good companies. My decision to set up as self-employed had nothing to do with authority or not being able to get a “proper job” whatever that is, but I do like being my own boss. I can get rid of bad clients and that is a major bonus. If you are being bullied at work or have an inept management structure above you, there is little you can do except leave or hope they soon move on. In the meantime, you will have to grin and bear it.

It’s Easy, Anyone Can Do It. You Just Want an Easy Life

Oh yeah? So why don’t you? This goes back to “it’s for lazy people” and partly the notion that people who are self-employed don’t like authority. It’s not easy. I nearly gave up early on, but at a key time I found several very good clients and it has been mostly uphill ever since. Let me repeat. It. Is. Not. Easy. If it was easy, more people would do it. More people would make a success of it. As it is, the overwhelming majority of start-ups fail in their first year. As far as I can see, the only advantages you have over me is holiday pay and sick pay.

Over to you! What myths and misconceptions about self-employment / working from home have you heard?

2 thoughts on “Myths About Self-Employment That Are Complete Nonsense

  1. andfreed

    Great post Matt! I sure don’t miss those annual performance reviews resulting in measly salary increases and I love Monday mornings now too!

    1. I was cynical about these performance reviews from a very young age, especially when I first encountered them being tied to pay. These days, they seem designed purely to deny a pay rise. Can’t be dealing with it. Much happier in my work now.

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