I have been self employed to one degree or another for the better part of thirteen years. I’ve experienced varying degrees of success and a lot of failure but I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world. I’d like to share with you why I choose to be self employed and why I think everyone should explore this option immediately.
Growing up, my parents were both employed. Nothing about being self employed ever came up during childhood that I recall… I didn’t really know it was an option. I knew that people owned businesses but that status seemed untouchable and I carried that attitude in to adolescence. I began working when I was fourteen and it hit me pretty quickly that I didn’t always agree with the way things were done. I knew that I could make improvements and do certain things better. Some of my ideas were implemented, some were not. I was instantly very dissatisfied when I saw operations that weren’t optimized and wasn’t allowed to do anything about it.
I Want To Be My Own Boss
Through my malcontent with not having control I put myself on the path of being self employed. I’ve worked for many people over the years. Invariably, I didn’t see eye to eye on certain things with all of them at some point. I don’t claim to know best all the time but the situations that upset me the most were always such blatantly obvious fixes that when my proposed improvements or solutions were not instituted…well, I decided that I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I was going to have to deal with that for the rest of my working days. I began looking in to how I could change my situation.
I decided that the only way I was going to improve things was to go in to business for myself. I came to this conclusion after researching the benefits of being self employed. I found things such as:
• I WOULD BE IN CHARGE
• I would write my own schedule
• The success of my venture was up to me
• Major tax advantages
The items above we’re all extremely attractive to me and I decided to go for it. I began being my own boss while simultaneously working for someone else and this is how it’s been for the majority of my working life. When beginning the journey of self employment one does not have to give up their current job. Sometimes it’s greatly beneficial to do both, sometimes not. Each situation is unique and must be evaluated individually.
What Do I Do?
I was positive I wanted to be self employed but I didn’t know how to go about it. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do! I began looking for information. I scoured the internet and read books. I thought about what I was good at. I didn’t really specialize in anything that I thought would be marketable and I didn’t have any upfront capital to begin with. I needed something that I could do without much knowledge and without up front money. After some searching, I had many ideas but the ones that were making most sense to me all revolved around manual labor. Lawn care, dog walking, gutter cleaning, mobile car detailing… I ultimately decided on a cleaning business and Personal Home Cleaners was born. The majority of my supplies I already had: a vacuum cleaner, various cleaning products, a broom, sponges, towels… that was about it. I registered myself as a business, which is amazingly easy these days with places online. I’ve always used Legal Zoom for setting up businesses. (They also happen to be an affiliate of mine so if you click on that link and decide to use their service I get a small percentage as a referral fee.) They make very daunting legal tasks remarkably simple through their site. If you don’t have something set up already, I’d highly suggest going through Legal Zoom.
I began my business with virtually no start up costs (a couple hundred dollars including registration fees). I did all my advertising on Craigs List which costs nothing. The nature of my cleaning business, coupled with my job in the service industry allowed me to perform both, essentially full time simultaneously. The first month or two were slow going with cleaning, but within six months I had developed a livable income. I had a realization. I had built a business from scratch and created income and work where none had existed prior. If I could do that with relative ease, what limits did I have? My first calendar year wrapped up and it was tax time.
I had done my own taxes since I was fourteen years old, back when “Tele-File” was really cool. With my cleaning business I knew I had some tax breaks to take advantage of so I bought Turbo Tax. I went through their step-by-step questionnaire and answered things about income, business expenses, mileage, and home office space. Everything was worded in such a way that I really couldn’t screw it up. Luckily for me, I’ve always been pretty detail oriented and keeping good records just came naturally to me. If this is not your specialty, make it your specialty. Good record keeping is the lifeline to your taxes coming out in your favor!
If you’re not familiar with how taxes work for the self employed, here is a very quick breakdown. You’ve got your income, let’s say $50,000 per year, minus 25% for taxes. That leaves you with $37,500 take home pay. Making sense so far? Good. Well, self employed people get to write off expenses related to business. For my cleaning business, that included all cleaning products I bought, machinery for cleaning, website and hosting costs, advertising and my biggest, mileage. For every mile driven that is for business, you write off so many cents. When I first began cleaning, I believe it was 42.5 cents per mile. I think I drove something like 4,000 miles for business that year, so my mileage deduction was $1,700. My total deductions were around $3,500.
We won’t get in to it too in depth here but the point is because I was self employed I got to keep more of my money than I would have otherwise. This was a beautiful thing in my mind.
My Success Is Based Off My Efforts
One of my prime motivating factors is instant gratification. That’s why I’ve always been attracted to the service industry, you’ll work for a single night and walk out the door with cash in hand. Weight training as well, you lift and strain your muscles and you know that because of the work you’re doing you’re getting more fit. When I landed my first client in my cleaning business I had an amazing sense of accomplishment and it felt awesome! I knew in an instant that if I could land one client I could get a dozen, twenty, thirty! And I did. Possibly the most important lesson I learned from building my business from nothing was this: Whatever I put in to it I would get out of it. I put some very hard work in to Personal Home Cleaners and it paid me back in spades. I absolutely loved that the entire success of my business was based off of my individual efforts. If this sounds a bit intense to you that’s okay. The route I took isn’t for everyone.
Financially, being self employed was probably the best decision I have made to date. It’s provided me with an amazing learning experience as well. You will learn along your journey in to being your own boss but it’s supremely helpful if you take an active approach in your learning.
• Ask questions of people who have taken the road before you
• Ask questions
• Ask questions and read
I cannot stress those things enough. I’ll be updating this entire site often and peppering it with book recommendations, stay tuned for that. I encourage you to share your experiences of becoming self employed! The more information people have about it the less intimidating the process becomes. Write in via comments or email!
- The Fallacy Of Passive Income
- My Take On Forex