I think most freelancers and creative entrepreneurs understand that doing their own thing, as opposed to working for someone else, requires a little extra skin in the game. As your own boss, you’re putting a lot on the line.
In my five years of running Jess Creatives (two of those being full time), I’ve learned to accept the risks of running my own business as a payment that’s well-worth it for getting to do what I enjoy.
Still, for a long time, I’d get this on and off feeling of fear (more like a pit in my stomach) that would make me wonder if this freelance thing was for me.
Finally, I got tired of second-guessing the logic behind my career choices, so I decided to lay all the risks out on paper. You know? Actually take a clear look at what, specifically, was at stake.
Doing this made me realize that, for me, the risks are absolutely worth it. So, I decided to lay out the top four risks for you in this post. Hopefully, facing them head-on will help you gain the same sense of clarity.
Risk #1: Stable Income
Of course, no brand new entrepreneur can know for sure that they’ll be able to build and maintain a steady client/customer base. But no employee can know for sure that they’ll walk into work tomorrow and still have a job and/or the same steady paycheck.
When you work for someone else, you don’t have control of the following “unstable” scenarios (to name a few):
- Taking a pay cut if the company hits a rough patch
- Office politics jeopardizing your income or position
- Your employer closing up shop, selling the company or declaring bankruptcy
- Etc., etc., etc….
The truth is, full time jobs feel secure because you get a consistent paycheck. Still, there’s no guarantee it will stay that way tomorrow, a year from now, or however long you plan to work there.
As your own boss, you can hustle to get more clients when business is slow. You can get creative with your offers. If you put in the time and hard work, and you have a reasonably-priced offer that people are willing to buy, you can typically structure things to create a stable income for yourself.
My suggestion to minimize this risk while running your own business? Test your idea and get feedback from people with experience. Here are a few places to find those “voices of reason.”
Risk #2: Work/Life Balance
Sure, when you’ve got a typical job, it’s standard to leave work at work. Often “life” begins when you leave the office. As an entrepreneur the lines are a little blurrier and running your own business can take over your life — if you let it.
I love what I do but I almost always make time for life to happen. I aim to shut things down at 6 p.m. most evenings, and I rarely work weekends. Here are a few of my suggestions (and links to top blog posts) about how to avoid letting your work take over your life.
- Set boundaries.
- Incorporate those boundaries into your customer/client experience.
- Charge more, outsource and ask for help.
- Change your perspective on work/life balance.
Risk #3: Job Security
There’s always a chance you could launch successfully and attract a ton of clients/customers in the beginning. Everything could be going well for months, or even years. But then one day, things could dry up.
I’ll admit, this is still something I think about from time to time. I wonder what I’d do if one day I just stopped getting clients…
The reality is, there are times when you might have to fight to have continued success. That fight would be there at almost any job though.
Think about it – if you work anywhere for long enough you’re going to have to take on more/different projects, or advance your skills, etc. to remain valuable to your employer. The same is true in business. You need to push yourself from time to time if you want to remain valuable to your clients/customers.
That’s why it’s important to enjoy what you do. If you’re passionate about it — even better. That way it’ll be worth fighting for when you have to put in a little extra effort.
Risk #4: Relationships
I do know entrepreneurs who have lost friends or made relationships rocky in the process of running their own business. This can happen for a few different reasons but the main two reasons are:
1. Not being able to relate on the topic of career success, work that you’re passionate about, etc.
It’s completely normal for non-entrepreneurial friends and family to totally NOT understand why you’d decide to to give this whole “running your own business” thing a shot. In some cultures, entrepreneurship is even a semi-shameful career path.
This lack of understanding can lead to a lot of stress. Still, if doing your own thing feels right, keep at it. Surround yourself with people who will support you (even virtually or from a distance!) and focus on showing people your passion and commitment — as opposed to trying to convince them of it.
2. The business owner becomes busy and stops spending quality time with certain people.
As your life changes, priorities change. And running your own business is a big life change, so it only makes sense that your relationships might shift a bit in the process. Focus on the people who matter most, make time for them and let them know how much you appreciate their support. The important people will stick around if you make them feel important — even when you’re busy.