“Even If You Didn’t Get Fired”
My paycheck had just bounced causing most of the checks I had written for my monthly bills to bounce. The charges from the bank for all of my bounced checks were more than I made in a week.
The owner of the window cleaning company I worked for apologized and wrote me a replacement check and even included extra to cover the hot check charges.
His replacement check bounced. Really?
Then a third payroll check bounced. I had no reason to believe that any future payroll checks would be good. I found myself in a deep financial pit I had no control over.
I had been living week to week spending every penny I made on basic living expenses for my small family. Now I had bad checks for the past three weeks of work and no money for gas, rent or food.
Believe it or not, this was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
If those paychecks hadn’t bounced how would my life have been different?
Would I have ever become self-employed?
Would I have ever built a business that would grow to generate over a million dollars a year?
As I look back at the road that led me to the financial success I enjoy today, a few insights stand out.
Insight #1: You have options you probably aren’t aware of.
If the paychecks from my window cleaning job had not bounced, I would have continued to go to work day by day, week by week, year by year, earning only a fraction of the money I generated.
If I had not been so far behind in my bills and obligations, I would have probably tried to get another job with another weekly paycheck that would barely keep my family surviving week to week.
At the time my family and I experienced this crisis, I was so far upside down financially, I had to look outside of traditional thinking to find a solution just so my family and I could survive.
I chose to go to work for myself. I started going from business to business in retail shopping centers asking if I could clean their windows.
Some of them said yes. They paid me immediately for the work I did.
Now I had survival money for groceries and gas. But I had gained far more. Instead of getting only a fraction of the money I generated, I got to keep it all.
I set my pricing at a rate that was a bargain for my customers. Some customers wanted me to clean their windows weekly, some every other week, some monthly.
I worked hard and learned how to get more customers. Very soon my income doubled and then doubled again. Living week to week and check to check as an employee had blinded me to the opportunities that had always been there.
I had to be unplugged from my steady job before I could see my options. I could work for a paycheck or I could work for myself doing the exact same work.
Insight#2: Becoming self employed and or owning a business is a choice—not a circumstance.
I was broke and scared. Who wouldn’t be? I didn’t look for another job. I suppose I could have. Most people would have. But I didn’t and it turned out to be the best career decision I could have made.
Instead of finding another job, I chose to start soliciting window cleaning business for myself. I went from a window cleaner working by the hour for someone else to a window cleaner working for myself.
Instead of getting a fraction of the money I generated, I got to keep it all. Even after paying Uncle Sam I was making 400% more money than I had been as an employee.
More importantly, all limitations to expanding my income had disappeared.
As an employee, there had been layers of supervisors and managers above me who controlled my income.
Their job was to keep expenses low and profits high. That meant paying me as little as possible, generating as much profit as possible for the company.
Now, all those barriers to raising my income were lifted. My income was entirely up to me. Working for myself simply meant that the more money I generated through my efforts, the more money I made.
As the quantity and the quality of the services I provided improved, so did my business and my income.
Did you know that 76% of job-seekers are now voicing interest in self-employment.
It appears that the age-old stigma of not having a steady job is changing. In fact, there has never been a better time to explore self-employment than right now.
Insight #3: Job security is dead.
Over the last several years you’ve probably heard that you can forget about “job security”. With corporate buyouts, layoffs, mergers and such, the chances that any job will last a lifetime is not looking good.
There is even less chance you will retire with a live-able pension from your employer.
While all of this is 100% true, is that the main reason so many people are starting businesses and joining the self-employed?
Intuit Inc. reported in 2016 that self-employment had risen to 36 percent in the United States—a 17 percent hike in the last 25 years—and the statistics are on track to reach 43 percent by 2020.
According to the same study, the lack of available and suitable jobs was not the primary reason for becoming self employed.
Of the 55 million Americans they currently identify as self-employed, only 11 percent reported joining the self-employed because they could not find full-time employment.
Lifestyle and escaping the “rat race” is the more common reason for starting a business and or becoming self-employed.
Insight #4: Some people will never find happiness or fulfillment as an employee.
Entrepreneurs are creative problem solvers at heart. When a problem or bottleneck raises it’s head, the “entrepreneur” can’t help but start coming up with ideas and solutions.
These ideas may not be welcome or appreciated by managers who are protecting their turf and the status quo.
This creates friction and frustration for both management and employees. The creative employee feels unappreciated, unheard as well as stuck in a dysfunctional work environment.
They may have a better handle on what the real problems and solutions are than Management does. Management may feel that their overzealous employees are complicating matters and should mind their own business.
This can make daily work life increasingly unpleasant for everyone. These problems rarely resolve themselves and tension will continue to rise to a breaking point.
Insight #5: Independent contractors and business owners are more satisfied with their careers.
For many, self-employment is simply preferable to working for someone else. According to Upwork’s Freelancing in America report for 2016, 79 percent of American workers surveyed reported that self-employment beats a career in the office.
Upwork draws this conclusion from a survey they did comparing full-time independent contractors with 9-5 employees. The three areas of satisfaction surveyed were: perceived respect, empowerment, and their excitement to start each day.
Independent contractors outperformed traditional workers by a significant margin in all three categories, with the largest separation between the two groups being the “excited to start each day” statistic, sitting at 80 and 54 percent, respectively.
When you consider that only 34 percent of employed Americans report being “engaged” in their workplaces (according to Gallup), the reasons for the movement towards self-employment become clear.
Insight #6: Working for yourself is hard work, but you’ll more than likely be happier with your work life.
Becoming a successful independent contractor or business owner isn’t easy and it certainly doesn’t mean working fewer hours.
The compensating benefit is a lot more flexibility in your work schedule. You get to plan your work and your day rather than someone planning your days for you.
You set your own priorities. Self-employment requires greater discipline but offers greater rewards to those with the character to pull it off.
If the only reason you are considering self-employment or starting a business is because you think you’ll have more free time, you should rethink your plans.
One of the things that will empower you to persevere through the long hours and hard work is to have a clear purpose.
If you aren’t clear on the purpose behind your goal, you won’t likely endure through the bumps in the road that we all experience.
This is one reason it is important to start with a clear business plan.
The process of creating a good Business Plan will help you anticipate and think through most challenges so you’ll be better prepared to meet them successfully.
The process of “fleshing out” your business plan on paper will also help you define your “big reason” to succeed.
My most successful ventures started out with a clear and written business plan.
My least successful ventures started out with too little planning.
Taking the time to think through and create a sensible business plan is the first step to success.
If the business plan will not stand the test of scrutiny, the plan probably needs more work. Watch a few episode of “Shark Tank” and you will see good business plans rewarded and short sighted business plans destroyed.
Even though planning on paper is very important don’t get so bogged down that you never actually begin the business.
At some point you must simply work up your courage and go for it.
Insight #7: More companies than ever before are gearing their companies to outsource everything they possible can.
The corporate world is becoming more reliant on independent contractors and flexible workers every year.
85 percent of IT and business executives surveyed in Accenture’s Technology Vision 2017 report indicated that they plan to increase their companies’ uses of independent contractors in the next year.
Why is the demand for independent contractors growing so heavily on the client end?
It’s very simple, as content marketing consultant Robert McGuire explains in his Venture Beat article on cultivating an independent contractor workforce, “you get agility, immediate value and dynamic supply.”
Independent contractors provide immediate expertise without training, office support or micromanaging.
They’re simply more profitable. They typically produce results faster and with far less overhead.
IF you want change, the time is now and you have the power.
So what have we learned here? Well:
- That self employment isn’t a prison for the “unemployable”
- Job security isn’t historically unstable—many people just prefer working for themselves
- There is a trend to outsource as much as possible providing more opportunities for the self employed and business owners serving other businesses.
So should you become self employed? Should you start a business?
If you’re fully employed in a pleasant day to day setting and love what you’re doing, then don’t let the self-employment lure distract you. Keep a good thing going and own your happiness.
However, if you are deeply dissatisfied with your current job and are curious about the self-employed life, there is much to gain by becoming self-employed or starting your own business.
You will free yourself from a work environment that stifles you, you will learn a great deal about yourself and what it truly means to be a business professional, and you may even achieve your wildest dreams.
Your work life represents a significant percentage of your overall life.
There is no reason for you to endure a miserable work life.
You have options.
- Employment is a choice.
- Self-employment is a choice.
- Which one will give you the most satisfaction?