Myths About The Self-Employed
"It's not a real job." Not only is it a real job, it's the job of many handled by, sometimes, a single individual! We need to know photography, branding, how to navigate social media, web design, search engine optimization, current trends in the market, how to budget, how to balance that budget, how to balance our time, and, most importantly, how to create. While we can (and I highly recommend it) outsource many areas of our work, this in itself is a job!
"It must be nice to be your own boss." Being your own boss certainly has its perks! But it also carries with it a degree of uncertainty and stress. In fact, no matter what job you have and how much you love it, I'm positive in my assertion that we've all experienced stress in our work environments, even if that environment is our home. This is totally normal! Being your own boss means we aren't accountable to anyone but ourselves. But that also requires a certain dedication which differs from that required by more conventional employment. We have to set our hours, stick to those hours, balance our home and business life, stay productive in the face of distractions, especially for those who work from home with children (and spouses!). But finding the balance, as tenuous or delicate as it may be, can be immensely rewarding!
"So you get to set your own hours? Ah, the freedom!" While we do have some ability to maneuver our tasks to accommodate emergencies or meet the expectations of family and friends, these adjustments are often not without consequence to our business or sanity. While conventional employment often provides paid vacations, sick leave and personal development days, these are definitely not in the wheel-house of the self-employed.
"It's too expensive to start a business." Well, this depends. While some business ventures can certainly result in costly investments, a handcrafted business can be successful with limited financial commitment. There are free or low-cost resources for those in the handcrafted market, such as customizable shopfronts through Storenvy, free photo editing software such as Photoscape, and free or heavily-discounted business cards through companies like Vista Print.
"If you build it, they will come." I've seen some iteration of this theory expressed often, usually expressed by artists who are disillusioned or disappointed with their lack of success, and usually as a result of an unfortunate, idealized expectation of success verses the time involved in reaching it. While 85% of small businesses survive their first year, the numbers drop dramatically when comparing survival with profit. And over 50% of small businesses will fail after their fifth year. These are depressing statistics, on their surface. But, recognizing this reality can, indeed, be the catalyst towards success, because it requires preparation and realistic expectations and goals. Knowing how to make a great product will never guarantee sales. So, prepare and be willing to learn about branding, marketing, web design, photography and bookkeeping (especially for those on a budget that does not allow for outsourcing these tasks). In the end, full-time, even part-time profitability is rare within the first year. And, to quote someone who was smarter than me "Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst." Keep your expectations realistic!
These are only a few of the myths I've encountered, the most prevalent of them, and even myths I'd embraced myself at some point during my journey of entrepreneurship. And none of these are meant to discourage budding business men and women from following their passion! In fact, I think preparation is the foundation of all successful ventures!
What are some myths you've encountered as a self-employed business person?
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