I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who likes to think about stuff.
For years, I worked in corporate America. It never occurred to me to go off on my own until a couple of years ago. Even then, I didn’t actually pull the trigger until a few months ago. What gave me pause? Going it alone can be scary!
There’s uncertainty in being an independent worker. As an employee, I received a salary. Every two weeks, I knew how much money would end up in my bank account. Being self-employed, knowing how much money I’m going to make month to month is hard to predict. Some months are leaner than others.
Ultimately, though, I am responsible for whether I succeed as an independent worker. There is no corporate job to fall back on. Whether I make enough money to support myself and save for the future depends entirely on me.
When I first started working for myself, I hadn’t given enough consideration to making enough money to survive. I knew I didn’t want to be a corporate employee anymore because I wanted more freedom. I had to find ways to deal with my new earned freedom, though.
I was recently talking to a friend, and he said that to achieve anything in life, you have to be willing to get uncomfortable. I think he’s right. So even though I was uncertain about taking this step of becoming an independent worker, I ultimately believe that I will achieve and grow.
Ever since I started working, I’ve been a saver. I never wanted to be one of those kids who ended up moving back home with their parents, so I always lived beneath my means. My savings habit proved to be quite helpful. Once I started working, I paid my student loans off as quickly as I could, so I became debt-free early on. This meant that I could take more risks and not worry about money as much, because I had fewer fixed expenses.
I built up a sizeable nest egg by having money automatically taken from my bank account and placed in several other accounts. If I didn’t see the money, I wasn’t tempted to spend it. In the leaner months, I use those reserves if necessary. And I still live beneath my means. I found cheaper housing. I enrolled in a cheaper gym membership. I even started using coupons when grocery shopping. I track my expenses and am always looking at ways to cut costs further. I know how much I spend, which lets me know how much I need to earn and save.
I work on developing multiple streams of income, so I’m not dependent on any given one. When I was a corporate employee, I had one steady income, but that job could go away at any moment. Now, I have variable income, but I have more control on where that income comes from. Which is more stable?
If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and becoming self-employed, I suggest having beefed up savings and minimizing your fixed expenses. After that, embrace the uncertainty. I firmly believe that from the roots of discomfort sprout beautiful trees.