Every day it seems we are bombarded with sensationalist stories and claims from society’s celebrated entrepreneurs. The Steve Jobs and Richard Bransons of our world, harp on about following ones heart, embracing failure and laughing in the face of austerity and ruin. Quite frankly I don’t blame these people. If I’d achieved even a fraction of the success they had I would imagine feeling like I too could walk on water, if only I believed, had faith and used “the secret” to will my super powers into existence right? Well, if you are anything like the other 98% of people living in “the real” world you might be finding your powers of manifestation aren’t kicking in quite as fast as you might like. You might be finding yourself in the ever familiar situation of being stuck in a job you’d rather not be in because you have to make the rent each month. And you may ask yourself, why can’t I be like Steve Jobs? I have amazing ideas, I want to change the world for the better I want to do all that and more but I can’t because I am stuck here eight hours a day working on someone else’s goals while my precious little life slips away.
OK so what are the options? Do you do what many do and continue to grin and bare your situation, making good of the cards you’ve been dealt and saying things to yourself like “I should be grateful”. Perhaps after five years or so you might even get promoted and earn another 5K a year. Then you can upgrade your car to that luxury deluxe model, with heated electric seats, maybe even get round to redecorating that spare bedroom? Riveting stuff right?
The other option is you begin to strike out on your own. You say a big f•@k you to the corporations, go home, sign onto WIX or Wordpress and start making your own company website where you offer up services in something much more creative and in line with your mind, body and spirit? But then what? You’ve uploaded your new site, created a Facebook page where you aptly title yourself as CEO, Director or President and you wait, you wait for the world to salute you. Because you took control of your life right? You promoted yourself to the person you think you deserve to be, you proudly wield your executive business cards which clearly state your new found status, only nothing seems to be happening. In fact things become harder. You’ve actually replaced one set of problems for an entirely new set. Gone is the comfortable monthly pay check that helps you sleep at night, budget for your repayments and monthly direct debits. Soon enough the wolves come sniffing at your door wanting their monthly slice of pie.
The truth of the matter is there is no real escape from the entrapment our society places on us. Whether you decide to work for someone else or work for yourself, both paths present their own pitfalls and hurdles. There comes a point where you have to be really honest with yourself, who you are, and what it is you want to do with this life.
Becoming self employed just for the sake of it is not a particularly well considered career choice. Many people decide to be self employed because they want freedom or don’t like having to answer to a boss. This is fine. But the boss you are trying so desperately to escape will always find ways to re-manifest themselves, whether it be in the form of a client or the tax man, someone will have you jumping through hoops again before long. So if that's your reason for becoming self employed, save yourself the hassle and the extra paper work. Enjoy having your tax affairs taken care of for you, use the company pension, sign up for the company health care plan and kick back into your compartmentalised role, comfortable in the knowledge that if the shit hits the fan you can pass the buck onto your superior. Seriously, compared to running your own business, this could be like a paid holiday.
Still not happy? OK then if you still feel like the entrepreneurial route is for you – go for it, but be prepared for a long haul because starting a new business can feel a bit like trying to move a mountain. Especially now, because media is so accessible everyone has their own business. Its free to publish websites, free to advertise in many domains. Putting up an online facade and presenting like an established company or organisation is simple and everyone is at it.
You can and might however pull it off if you have the tenacity staying power and vision to see things through. And sure enough after a short time you might start getting clients, gigs or commissions. You’ll likely be so over the moon that you won’t want to rock the boat too early on either. This leaves you wide open to manipulation. Welcome to the real world of business. You’re the big boss now. You’ve gone in and convinced everyone you're a professional independent body and you’ll be expected to behave and act like one. You’ll be expected to deliver without question. No ones going to take you under their wing, they don’t have time, that’s why they called you in. You have to start agreeing to monetary terms. There’s no salary, no hourly rate. Your bills will continue to come in every month, just the way they did when you had a full time job. Your pay checks however won’t. Some may take months, others years, sometimes you’ll get some of what you are owed, sometimes you’ll get none. Things will go wrong. People will let you down or you’ll let people down. Clients will find reasons not to pay. People delay, people flake out, projects go on ice, the pitch goes to a competitor, the list goes on. The amount of potential variables resulting in you not getting paid are endless.
Whether you are employed, self employed or running your own company is nothing more than a tax formality. The question you have to ask yourself is, what are you are trying to achieve? Could it be that there are already established organisations trying to achieve something similar? Could you make more of a difference joining them in their efforts than trying to do it alone? Together you could be much stronger. The price you pay for that maybe less lime light for sure. But so what. Don’t let your ego steer you into treacherous waters.
If you are really clear about what you want your chances are greatly improved no matter what route you decide on. Life works a little like a camera lens. You get what you focus on. Its sounds simple, but its surprisingly hard to remain focused with such an abundance of choices and indulgences available to us. In many cases if things aren’t working it out boils down to a lack of focus or indecision. Are you making half assed attempts at one thing or another? The world doesn’t respond to half assed attempts. You’ll only attract half assed clients and opportunities. Society has a way for recognising those who have just that extra little edge and that edge comes from being so completely focused and decided on what it is you are doing. Once you’ve found that place, it may not really matter what form your gigs come in, whether they be employment situations or a self employed, because you’ll just be happy doing what you are doing.
Joseph S Joyce