Self Employed. Clearly I'm a power crazy control freak!
I remember during one of the recent 'Apprentice' episodes – 'Shr’ Alan' making the statement that, 'once he'd had a taste of working for himself, even when he wasn't making a fortune, wild horses wouldn't have been able to drag him back to work for someone else'.
Having been self employed for the past 7 years – I found myself nodding in agreement with his statement.
But that got me questioning just why I agreed so readily with his statement. Let's face it – I am aware of many people who are very, very happy working for someone else. They get rewarded both financially and personally – enjoy paid holidays and sick days, pensions, perks and generally really enjoy their roles. And whilst I'm not undermining the pressure of many roles – having been employed for most of my working life, I recall, that there's definitely more opportunity to 'switch off' – after all your 'role' is a job and as conscientious as one may be – you are ultimately not the business owners – that's somebody else's challenge! And unless your role is ‘commission’ based – then you’re not often directly constantly concerned with winning and developing new business to keep a constant revenue stream through the business.
So given how attractive employment is, what then is it that drives an individual to rough it through the very real challenges of 'self employment'?
I have been pondering this for a few days now... and whilst it would be a simple task for me to write a list of the pros and cons of employment -v- self employment: flexibility, accountability, responsibility, exhaustability (is that a word?!) to name but a few. However, I believe it actually runs a bit deeper than that.
From my perspective, it's the balance of the relationship that's an all important factor. Plain and simple – it comes down to ‘playing fair’.
I think we'll all agree, that regardless of the type of management style we operate, or participate within [hierarchical, non hierarchical] – in all cases an employee is viewed differently from a 'supplier'. The expectation of an employee is to 'do' for the business. The expectation of a 'supplier' is to supply to the business. With employees there is usually some form of 'hierarchical' structure – and 'boundaries' to play within - yet with 'suppliers' the balance is far more equal.
To put it another way – as a supplier, the objective is to keep the customer/client as serviced as possible. You're up against the competition – so you've got to ensure you stand out from a crowd, differentiate, provide exceptional services, be creative and dynamic – and all the time managing and marketing your own business in an efficient and effective way.
So what makes someone want to get out and do it for themselves – whilst others feel totally comfortable with employment?
Fortunately, I was perhaps very lucky in the roles I had when employed – I was always empowered to make changes, implement ideas etc – lots of 'freedom' to make a difference which is great initially – but not so great when, regardless of how well you are compensated, the realisation that you're putting in all the effort to line the pockets of others starts to bug you. (Perhaps it's when you're given so much freedom as an employee the thoughts that 'I could do this myself' are triggered...).
I'm sure many balance the financial quarms and boundaries out with – “hey, well, whilst I work hard, I get lots of responsibility and a good salary” – so that's good enough for me. But I suppose, over the years, I became less satisfied with that.
Reading Malcolm Gladwell's marvellous 'Blink' – then perhaps my need to 'do it for myself' stems from the fact that my parents divorced! His research has shown there's a correlation! But perhaps that’s a little bit too random an explanation.
Personally, I didn't ever see any reason why I shouldn't do things for myself? I remember friends of mine from my home town in Lancashire being horrified when I was leaving the safeguard of the group I’d known since I was 5, to work in London – by myself, with no friends or family south of the M6. But for me – that just seemed highly practical – the advertising agencies I wanted to work for were based in London – so that’s where I had to be!
Adventurous? I wouldn’t say that - risk taker? Not really! Power crazy? Nope, I'm certainly not looking for world domination – and control freak? Well, maybe a little bit of a ‘Monica’ – but I've got to keep on top of a lot of things – so working for myself, that trait seems to help.
So, what say you ...? What made you move away from the ‘comforts’ of confines of employment? And do you attribute it to your background, your personality or was it merely circumstances and the right time?
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Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative - a graphic design and marketing services agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire. The agency covers all aspects of graphic design and marketing - covering social media marketing and website planning and website design.