7 Insights I Got From Being Self-Employed

For years, I was a full-time lecturer. But in 2009, my online business took off and afforded me the opportunity to become self-employed. I no longer have a day job since then. At the time of writing, I have been self-employed for nine years! Wow, that’s quite a long time!

Here I’d like to share with you some insights that I have got from being self-employed. I hope you will find something useful that you can apply to your situation. Here they are.

1. Control is what I like the most.

What I like the most from my current work is the level of control I have. Instead of someone else telling me about what to do and when to do it, I can decide them on my own.

Don’t get it wrong: just because you work independently, it doesn’t mean that you have control. Many people who work independently have their clients as their bosses. Their clients are the ones who decide what to do and when to do it. But I have decided from the beginning that control is important and have designed my work accordingly.

For instance, I don’t take consulting jobs. I have a background in software development and people sometimes ask me to accept consulting jobs. But I never accept them. Why? Because they don’t match my work philosophy. With consulting jobs, the clients are in control. Instead, I develop and sell my own apps on the App Store. That way I’m the one who decides the what and when.

2. Never take things for granted.

Because I have had this kind of control for years, sometimes I take it for granted. There are times when I got tempted to do work where I don’t have control. But fortunately, I realized it before it’s too late.

Never take things for granted. You could become so accustomed to having something that you forget how not to have it.

3. Self-discipline is essential.

While having control is nice, the flip side is that self-discipline is essential. I don’t have a boss who tells me what to do, so it’s up to me to get things moving. If I didn’t discipline myself, I would get nothing done.

4. Money is just a means to something bigger.

I now make enough financially, but I could make more money if I did other kinds of work (such as consulting jobs). However, I have learned that money is just a means to something bigger; it’s not an end in itself.

For example, money could give you the freedom to use your time. But now I already have such freedom, so it doesn’t make much sense to pursue more money.

Never lose sight of what you truly want. Don’t get trapped with chasing the means instead.

5. Realize your talents.

I feel fulfilled at work because I can make the most of my talents there. For instance, I have a talent for writing, and I get to write articles like this one. I also have a talent for developing apps, and I create apps for the App Store.

Do you want to feel fulfilled at work? Realize your potential there.

6. Having a community is important.

A danger to many people who are self-employed is loneliness. They don’t have co-workers to chat with during the day. As a result, they could spend many days alone in their home office.

Fortunately, this is not a problem for me. I still teach part-time so I meet students and fellow lecturers. In fact, that’s one reason why I keep teaching: to meet people. I also have a community at church whom I meet often.

7. Comfort zone is a silent danger.

Because I don’t have external pushes, being in the comfort zone is a danger to me. Moreover, it’s a silent danger. Why? Because I don’t realize it while I’m in it! It’s different from say, financial difficulties which I could feel right away.

I only realize this danger when I looked back and saw that there were years where I accomplished almost nothing. It’s still a danger for me now; I’m still working on it.

***

Those are the insights I got from being self-employed. As you can see, there are upsides and downsides. But fortunately, there are more upsides than downsides.

My kind of work is not everyone, but I hope you can get something useful from the insights above. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

18 Comments

  1. Great insights, Donald.
    “Never take things for granted.” Men, who are married, will understand this better!
    “Comfort zone is a silent danger.” How true!
    I’ll keep getting back to this article at regular intervals.

    • Jonathan Abraham
      Jonathan Abraham

      That is good, yours experience has thought me a lot and l love it. Please how can l get online business to do

    • please explain these points with examples
      Never take things for granted?
      Comfort zone is a silent danger?

  2. Yes, the insights are true.
    However, we are sometimes controlled by what people want. I mean we have always a kind of customer. He or she might needs something we try to meet his or her needs. So, always are controlled by the real sense of people.
    Thank you for your thoughts

  3. Thanks for this post
    It’s true that comfort zone is danger and many times we generate solid reasons for our such routine which leads towards comfort zone according to my own experience ??

  4. Thanks for the insights, Donald! They are all so true. I can personally relate to the comfort zone being a silent danger in my career and interpersonal relationships.

  5. Thank you very much for the post, Donald. I really enjoyed it and can relate on so many levels. “Never take things for granted” particularly struck a chord. I know that when I am grateful for what I have, I nurture it. When I lose perspective on how fortunate I am and how beautiful my life is and the opportunities I have are, I begin to neglect critical areas of my life, therefore setting the stage to lose them. I also appreciate that you share the perspective about money. It really isn’t the end all-be all.

  6. GREGORY OMOREFE
    GREGORY OMOREFE

    Thanks Donald…I’m so grateful.Your articles are so inspiring..God bless .

  7. More or less, this is me. Thank you Donald.

  8. Thanks for sharing, everyone! I love reading your comments. Let’s apply the lessons so that we can reach our full potential 🙂

  9. Donald, you are so right-Working for someone else can truly be a drag. I also like to write but haven’t had the inspiration to do so until just this weekend. Having a job that is dissatisfying is a trigger that pushes you into your natural talents-(That is if you arte aware)-I began to realize, that it is perhaps better to earn $100 per hour fulfilling your passion than to earn $200 per hour performing work that is not rewarding (Spiritual speaking)-Thanks for sharing!

  10. Money is just a means to do something –> this is incredible!!

  11. Awesome as always Donald. I love the part about money and means. That’s where us self employed folks tend to suffer! We have the freedom but are always pushing for more cash, which can result in less freedom if it isn’t pursued correctly. I strive for this balance, so thanks for the timely reminder!

    Keep up the good work!

  12. Thanks Donald. My greatest problem has been the money – chasing it like the end. I will definitely change and only use it as a means to achieve real life goals

  13. i think this not able for every one to work just independently. maybe it is able for you because your jobs have some features. it is impossible for a teacher or an engineer to have control on what she do and when she do. but having this kind of works possible for an artist or a programmer.

  14. Thanks Donald,sir i am much confuse i am unable to judge what is my best thing or which one thing is my best .everyone is best in one thing but i don’t know any one please can guide me
    i shall be highly thankfully to you.

  15. Donald,
    You are an amazing person.
    Thanks did sharing your success.
    I wonder if you would consider helping some of us personally to make that transition you have made?
    I am personally interested in your personal guidance, would you be available?
    Thanks again for the amazing work you are doing helping many.
    DrO

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