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Is there freedom in self-employment?

Photographs: iStock

Text: Laura Wintemute

People say this to me all the time. It is true, I do feel fortunate to work at my own pace and not somebody’s else’s, but in reality, no one ever told me that I would be trading my 40-hour work week for a 100+ hour work week when I first started my company. Being self-employed does allow you to be in control of your time, from when you work, to where and with whom. However, being your own boss doesn’t result in as much freedom as you think.

Running your own company is like riding a roller coaster that never stops. I’ve had some of the happiest and exciting times I could remember while running my business. But it also comes with some of the hardest times, and I’ve endured many sleepless nights. Rarely are there any feelings in between, but I think it’s important to celebrate even the smallest of victories.

One would think that if you own your own business, you spend every minute doing exactly what you like to do and never have to work on things you don’t enjoy. This is the furthest thing from the truth. Personally, I contribute a large portion of my work week, tending to exactly the things I would rather not do. From accounting to hiring people or setting up business processes and engaging in marketing activities. We often are forced to spend a majority of our energy on fields that we neither have the experience nor are particularly interested in. In fact, the moment your business starts taking off, you might not be doing any of what you actually love doing. However, you do gain certain freedoms like the flexibility to decide your own work schedule.

"My desire to spend more time with my family, take our daughter to her activities all came into play when I was first tossing around the idea of starting my own business."

Work-life balance

Many people dream of the perceived freedom that they believe goes hand in hand with being their own boss as they presume that it’s an easy way to ensure they keep a work-life balance in play. In Denmark, this is a high priority for most.

However, while running your own company provides the ability to control the time you spend at work and at home, there is also an underlying fear and uncertainty that remains prevalent in your life; that’s in contrast to the certainty one feels when being employed in a stable job. You always know when and how much your next paycheck will be. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the coin and it really depends on just how much risk you’re willing to accept. For some of us who do venture out and start our own business, I tend to hear from other entrepreneurs that they felt they didn’t have a choice. It is a compulsion to be in control of our own lives that drives us to take that risk. I don’t feel like I had a choice in my path.

My desire to spend more time with my family, take our daughter to her extracurricular activities or be able to work from home to ensure I finish sewing her new Fastelavn’s costume all came into play when I was first tossing around the idea of starting my own business.

Dreams can come true

Being let go from a job I loved due to cutbacks was devastating. When that happened, all I knew was that I didn’t ever want to be put in that position again. I feel I have much more job security being self-employed. That might sound counter-intuitive, but business owners typically have multiple clients, which lessens the pain if you lose one of them. Employees, on the other hand, have only one "client," their employer.

As children, we dream of what we will be when we grow up. I wanted to be like my mom who was a nurse. I knew right away that I wasn’t cut out for the blood and gore, but I also knew I wanted to help people. I feel I found the best of both worlds in that I have found success in my career like my mom did in hers, and I also found a way to help people which is my passion.

Thinking of trying it? Reach out, and I’ll share what I’ve learned.

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