What Are the Best and Worst Parts of Being Self-Employed?

A man sits on a couch with his laptop.

Working for yourself seems like a dream come true. There's no boss to tell you what to do, and nobody to ask for permission if you want to duck out a little early or start working a few hours late. Of course, there's also nobody else responsible to make sure you get paid, and nobody to step in if things go wrong.

Being self-employed comes with tremendous freedom. I've spent weekdays hanging out at the beach or visiting amusement parks while most people are at work. I've also spent late nights, weekends, evenings, and holidays hard at work while other people have fun.

Working for yourself requires discipline, and many of its best parts come with trade-offs that some people will not want to make. It's a balance that's not always easy, and it requires sacrifices not everyone is willing to make.

What is the best part of self-employment?

As a self-employed writer, I only get paid for work I finish. To manage my income, I set minimum quotas for myself on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. As long as I meet my weekly and monthly goals, it does not matter to me when I work.

That means I start early -- usually by 7:30 a.m. That allows me to take a swim or go to the beach for an hour or two each afternoon. It also gives me the flexibility to work straight through until dinner, banking work if I want to take days off.

It's a flexibility that lets me be available for homework help when my 14-year-old gets home from school. In addition, I'm able to take advantage of my South Florida location by taking days off when friends visit the state on vacation.

What is the worst part of self-employment?

If I don't work, I don't get paid. I budget for vacations, but it's hard to plan for unexpected days of lost production. For example, my wife recently had a routine outpatient medical procedure. It was a day-long stay at the hospital, and while I was waiting, I intended to work.

Poor Wi-Fi and a lack of tables made me about half as productive as I intended to be. That pushed me into spending a few hours on both days of that weekend catching up.

That's a minor example, but it's a pressure that's always there. When I'm taking time off or doing something fun, there's always a voice in the back of my head telling me that it's time to get back to work.

It's worth it (for me)

For me, flexibility is worth having to work weird and sometimes long hours. I do worry about dealing with an unexpected illness, but I budget for sick days, and frankly, I've written through bouts of flu and other relatively minor illnesses.

Being self-employed isn't as carefree as many people might think. However, it does come with amazing rewards, as I get to experience things most people can't. I never have to say no to opportunities or experiences -- I just have to find a way to put in the work hours needed to pay the bills.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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