12 Reasons Why You’re Better Off Being Self-Employed

Freelancer VS. Employee

Sometimes, amidst the stress of multiple converging deadlines and the endless hustle to obtain new clients, it can be hard to remember why we chose to become self-employed in the first place. It’s all too easy for freelancers to focus on “clients from hell” and the daily little frustrations that we encounter.

We forget why self-employment is awesome.

But fear not — in this post it is my intention to remind you exactly why being self-employed is so much better than working for someone else.

The 12 Best Reasons Being Self-Employed is Better Than Being an Employee

1.  You’re your own boss.

You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? It’s the one we all dreamed about when we realized self-employment was a viable option: being our own boss. Escaping the rat race and living life as we pleased. Remember that?

When you’re self-employed, you no longer have a “higher-up” governing your every move. You control how your work is done. Your client has a say in the final product, but that’s it — their power ends there. How you get from point A to point B is completely up to you and that is awesome.

2. You earn more money.

On average, freelancers earn 45% more than those who are traditionally employed. They’re also allowed to deduct certain business expenses that employees are not, allowing to actually keep more of what they earn.

Feel like you’re not quite there yet? Check out my 7 Tips for Negotiating High End Rates. There’s no reason you can’t pull in just as much (or more!) money now than you did when you were traditionally employed.

3. You spend less.

When was the last time you were stuck in traffic on your way to work? If you perform your professional duties from a home office, it’s most likely been a very, very long time. (And, no, waiting in line for the bathroom for your morning shower doesn’t count).

Think of all the money on gas you’ve been saving.

Even if you work outside of your home, as someone who’s self-employed, you were able to choose the location. And I’d be willing to bet you chose somewhere that nixed the lengthy commute.

Child care expenses may also be a thing of the past for you. Along with expensive daily lunches “out” because of your distinct distrust of the office fridge.

4. You enjoy variety.

When you were an employee — whether you were crumbling away in a cubicle, restlessly working retail, or dying at the drive-thru — you were handed a manual or given some hasty instructions by your boss and then…that was it. You knew what you needed to know to perform your job, and there was never any reason to grow beyond that. Because your job never, ever changed.

As a freelancer, your job is changing constantly. You’re expected to continually adapt, learn, and update your skills. With every new client comes a new challenge.

When you’re self-employed, you’re forced to think — to be creative — and you love it, don’t you? (It’s okay to admit it. Go ahead. Take a second to say it out loud.). It’s a great feeling to know that your skills are being put to good use and that those skills are going to continue to grow as your business grows.

5. No co-worker drama.

Many of us work alone (or work remotely) and that isolation can be a bit daunting at times. But do you really, honestly, miss your co-workers? Even the one who listened to her music sans headphones? What about the guy who loved to talk (loudly) on his cell phone during his breaks…right next to you? Or how about the gem of a human being who shirked all of their cleaning duties on you?

Your favorite co-workers became your friends and are likely still a part of your life in that capacity. Everyone else? Good riddance!

6. Sick Day? A-OK!

Freelance writer Jennifer Lawler has been self-employed for so long that she was taken aback when, upon a recent visit to the hospital, she was asked if she needed a note excusing her absence:

“And then I realize[d] that the default method in the world of work and education is to treat people as if they are incompetent or lying or both. Because that’s the only explanation for what is clearly a routine question for an exam during business hours. I guess if I were employed in the traditional corporate world, I’d be forced to ask, ‘Please boss can I take my daughter to see the neurosurgeon? No? Okay.’ Seriously? Seriously?”

A day we don’t work is a day we go without pay, but at least we can take that day off without having to beg for our boss’ forgiveness. Or feel the demeaning sting of having to prove how ill we were by providing a doctor’s note. Or fill out a stack of meaningless forms.

Of course, we have to buy our own health insurance. But even that isn’t so bad; at least we get to choose which insurance we use. Our health coverage is no longer left up to a head honcho choosing the cheapest package.

7. Your work area is truly yours.

Want dual monitors instead of one? Go ahead. Prefer a standing desk? Knock yourself out. And framed photos of your friends and family? The more the merrier!

Decoration regulations (try saying that ten times fast!) are a thing of the past. You can Feng Shui your work space to your heart’s content. So put up that poster you found online, get in the habit of watering your indoor fern, and finally buy that ergonomically correct chair!

Need some inspiration? Check out these pics of 60 jaw-dropping home office setups. Even if you already have a killer home office, improvements can always be made.

8. New equipment when you want/need it.

If you’ve ever worked in an office building, you’re well aware of the frustrations that come along with the I-need-something hierarchy. Whether you need a new pack of pens, staples, or laptop repair, as an employee you would have to ask someone for the equipment you needed. And then they would ask someone else, who would ask someone else, who would ask someone else. It could take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to get the equipment or maintenance you needed in order to complete your project.

Need something now that you’re a freelancer? Go to the store and get it. Get back to work. The end.

9. No uniforms.

Being self-employed is a bit like being Phil Collins: No Jacket Required.

Also, no tie required. No neon polyester t-shirt. No two-toned logo-covered baseball cap.

Unless you’re meeting with a client in person — or via video chat — you can wear (or not wear) whatever you darn well please. It might be a cliche to freelance in the buff, but it’s definitely an option.

10. You set your own schedule.

Whether you crave the steady familiarity of a fixed schedule, or you long to mix it up with hours that are more flexible; as your own boss, you’re the one who creates your schedule.

If you’re not a morning person, you can rest easy knowing that you no longer have to set your alarms in triplicate in order to just barely make your morning meeting. Or, if early’s your style, you can set your hours for the dawn and have a full day’s work done before your kids get up for school.

11. You’re more valued.

As a freelancer, you’re no longer part of the hive; you’re a highly-valued individual.

You get credit for your own work. And, through your ongoing marketing efforts, you’ve even started to earn some name recognition, not just among your long-time clients, but from complete strangers as well.

12. You choose your own customers.

When you work as an employee, you’re more-or-less forced to serve whoever decides to show up at your employer’s place of business. Whether it’s a bedraggled couple with two crying children looking to buy school supplies or the old man who screams at you because he still hasn’t quite figured out how the combo menu works or the confused woman who’s called three times in the past hour with the exact same customer service question: you had to help them. Because that was your job.

If a client yells at you now, it’s because you chose the wrong client. You’re the one in control now, not them. You choose who you provide services to.

The Final Word on Self-Employment

When the stress of everyday life starts to wear thin on you, it can be hard to remember how amazing your life — your business — really is. You may even consider giving it all up from time to time.

Truth is: self-employment is a fantastic lifestyle choice. Be thankful.

If you ever forget why you chose to be your own boss, think back to what you were doing before you became a freelancer. Think about your worst customers, your most hideous dress code, your cramped work space, and your long commutes.

If that doesn’t work, just come back here. I’ll remind you.

Image courtesy of Stock.Xchng user cobrasoft (with slight modification on our part).

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{ 25 comments }

TK

Great article! I was thinking something was missing from bullet point 8. In the last sentence you should add… “and you get a tax write-off on top of it all!”

Ana Fidalgo

Great words, Tom! Very true and inspirational.

As someone who’s living this life, it truly is great to feel like you’re in control.

And one of the best parts is your clients valuing your work and advice. As a freelancer, being a specialist at something is so much more rewarding than as an employee.

I definitely look forward to whatever challenges I will have the opportunity to surpass as a freelancer.

Regards,
Ana

David

great article- I enjoyed this and agree with all points- apart from the tax benefits you are creating a company and client base potentially worth alot of money in the long term.

Eric Floehr

Thank you for this! It’s a good reminder to be thankful for the many positives of self-employment.

Graeme

Great article, you really worked emotion in well. By the end you had me visualize my last full time job. I was in a law firm at 8 at night, the only one in the building.

I was sorting through a mound of papers to categorized them, and check if any were missing. The AC was broken, so I was in an undershirt at a big table. The lights were turned automatically off, and only dim backup lights were on.

Steve

Great article and quite uplifting. I was actually quite stress out for the last couple of days after reading this and remembering my last full time job, I’d take freelancing over and over again anytime.

I recently fired a client from hell, it felt so good. It felt even better when they came back crawling and allowed me to finish their project using my expertise. I then knew how valuable I really was.

Coral

Oh, I will *NEVER* forget why freelancing is better. Sure, I don’t make as much money, but I certainly have the potential to (my fault; I don’t advertise). The best thing is that I’ve been freelancing for 3 years. By now, I probably would have been fired from about 3-6 jobs for being late. It’s a curse of mine. I can never be on time anywhere I go (Hey, I’m an artist, I think most of us are like that). In the 10 years I worked for someone else, I got fired from *every* single job for being late. Now, it doesn’t matter how late I am. And with my small amount of clients, I sometimes get unexpected days off, which is very nice!! But, just the amount of stress I’ve gotten rid of simply because I’m not “late” every single day has improved my mood by about 1,000,000%!

Carol

This info is simplistic and I don’t think the statistic about 47% of freelancers making more than non-freelancers can be universally applied—unless you’re a software programmer and not factoring in $15,000 worth of health insurance and other overhead benefits. I’m leaving freelancing because I’m tired of chasing after invoices, administering my own health insurance, worrying about my retirement, etc. I’ll keep the freelance work going but I’ll take a job.

Luis

The entire list goes to hell the day you are unable to make a client. All the glory hangs from that little thread.

Jen

Great Article!! Thanks.

Pamela Brown

Great article! This is what I want so badly…

Clara Mathews

I especially love the part about no co-worker drama. You can include no office politics to that. Working is Corporate America is getting to be more about who likes you, rather than you likes your work.

Sam

This article is spot on. My favourite bit – No co-worker drama. My experience – most of them were lazy, selfish and discourteous.

Ewald

Excellent article! Now I need to start working towards this, right away.

Filipe

Thanks Tom, I really needed this article today. All the best

PS. You got mail!

Mark Wolfgang

Great article, for sure. Sometimes we forget how good we have it.

I have the day I quit my last job marked on my calendar and celebrate my self-employment every year. It’s the day I took full control of my life.

I can’t see how I could ever relinquish control of my life. I.e. go back to having a job…

Abdul Hadee

I personally agree. I used to work at etisalat for 1 year and i quit it because of how they take all the work from lower level employees and enjoy the benefits. Thats why i started my web store and so far its doing great. Started as one and now its a 5 people team :)

I hope your article inspires a great talent and something change quickly!

Cynthia

I’ve been on my own for over 15 years and it’s been a tough go on the self-employed road until I really got down to learning how to correctly run a biz. My advice would be to educated yourself a tonne before you consider this avenue full-time; it’s not for everybody and it requires that you wear a lot of hats. I would advise that if you enjoy watching TV every night and your weekends free, you’re best to keep your job and your benefits. There is no shame in knowing yourself and the kind of life you want to live.

Ahamdi

I like Cynthia’s sincere and honest comment. Yes, the self employed road is the best but ONLY if you’re ready for the sacrifices that go with that kind of life. I used to be critical of people who don’t want to launch out on their own but now I see it’s better they aspire to have a job or keep their existing one if they can’t just get themselves to brave the self employed route. Also, it takes a measure of wit to run your own business which we must all agree not everyone possesses. We’re built different so God should take ALL the glory when you find out you’re good in being successful as an independent person. We can’t all be the same but it’s interesting to note that many who insist on taking or keeping their jobs still express dissatisfaction with what they have. However, we must realize that someone has to work for another when size gets bigger than the freelancing business. The freelancer will now become the boss of some employees who will then start longing to be on their own. Life! It’s a circle kind of so the best thing is to find what suits you and try to be fair to your employees by creating the best work environment possible. Robots will not do what people will do, not at least at this time. So, it still boils down to the FACT that the self employed life can’t be beaten NO MATTER THE STRESS. Yes, there must be challenges and many a time lean days but if your mind is really made up and you’ve scored your successes, then that’s a good sign you should not give up. Thanks for this article because I certainly relate to it.

Eddie Olivas

Such a fantastic article! I absolutely love being self employed and I want to spread the word far and wide and help others achieve the same freedom I have found. Articles like this play a critical part in helping the happily self-employed community spread the word and bring more cubicle dwellers toward “the light”.

Tom Ewer

Thanks Eddie! Glad you enjoyed it :-)

Victorino

Nice list. You have tackled all the advantages of being a self-employed. I love being a freelancer, but it also comes a great degree of guts, responsibility and discipline to fully enjoy it because if we will not do it right, the drawbacks could be disappointing.

Tom Ewer

Thanks for your comments Victorino and glad you enjoyed it!

Marco

Refreshing read, because sometimes (if not most) we forget about these things and take them for granted.

This post took me back to my employed days and I remembered how much I dreaded Mondays, which would’ve been something I’ve added (no more dreading Monday’s).

Because ultimately, freelancing, I love it. Too often do I see people who aren’t self-employed wishing to be 5 PM every 9 AM, to be Friday every Monday, to be December every month (vacations) and to be happy eventually. No sense.

Tom Ewer

Thanks for your comments Marco! Glad you enjoyed the post and are also enjoying freelancing :-)

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