Is it time For You to Consider Self-Employment?

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By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

Job security has become an oxymoron. For our parents' generation, lifetime employment with a gold watch and comfortable pension at the end was not unusual. We're now living in a different environment. Seemingly everyday, companies merge, fail, and downsize. It is no wonder that so many employees are forced to update their resumes and hit the streets to find a new job.

But these days many are saying to themselves:

  • "My next job could just as easily end as abruptly as my last."
  • "How do I get off of this corporate treadmill and still support my family?"
  • "I've been working in the corporate world for many years and am tired of playing the game. Do I REALLY want another job?"

The answer may be",self-employment."

Self-employment has many attractions:

  1. You can't be laid off again.
  2. You can "own" your own space and time.
  3. You can work on only the types of projects you really enjoy.
  4. You are the boss and make all the decisions.
  5. You can practice your own values rather than those of your employer.
  6. You have the opportunity to make more money than an employer would pay you.

Of course, there are risks:

  1. You may not be able to earn as much money as you did in the corporate world.
  2. You will have to fund your own benefits and retirement.
  3. You will be forced to remove yourself from your comfort zone. For example, succeeding at marketing and sales will be imperative.
  4. Working for yourself may be lonely.
  5. You will have ups and downs in your income rather than a steady paycheck.
  6. You will need to pay for and do much of your own support work like fixing your computer, buying office supplies, and even cleaning your office.

That said, if you're still interested, here are some keys for success.


  • Focus
  • Find the Need
  • Avoid the Employee Model
  • Have a Plan for Gaining Leverage
  • Think Through the Economics of Your New Business
  • Commit Yourself
  • You Only Need 2 Things to Get Started

Instead of putting out a shingle that says you are a generalist (e.g., management consultant, human resources consultant, or programmer), specialize. Do one thing better than anybody else. Or, become a generalist but for a very specific niche such as family-owned businesses or pediatric practices. This will make it much easier for you to market your services, perfect what you do, and charge enough to make a good living.

Here are 3 essential considerations when starting a new business:

  1. Be certain that there is a real need in the marketplace for your product or service;
  2. Feel confident that you can deliver the product or service; and
  3. Have a passion for meeting the need you've identified.

Try to avoid selling your time. If you land a client where you are charging for a 40-hour week, you may feel you've have made it. But you really have become just an employee without benefits. Instead of charging for your time, sell projects, deliverables, and results.

Gain leverage by:

  • Creating a product that you can sell for a profit;
  • Hiring others so you can sell their time for more than you are paying them; and
  • Developing a repeatable service so that you don't have to continually reinvent the wheel.

Let's say you want to make $100,000 per year. You must realize that to net $100,000, you will need to earn closer to $150,000 in revenue to cover the cost of your own social security, healthcare and retirement benefits, and office expenses.

Put a stake in the ground. Tell the world that this is what you are now doing. Send out a formal announcement. Become a student of marketing and sales. It's not rocket science, but you will need to develop a marketing plan and follow it diligently.

You may read that to get started as a self employed consultant you will need to incorporate, prepare a detailed business plan, start a separate checking account, buy liability insurance, and launch a website. The truth is that when you start you probably don't need any of these things. All you need is a client and a way to find your next client.

CONCLUSION: Self-employment is not for everyone. But, I've never met anyone who regretted trying. If you can no longer fathom the idea of working for another company, you owe it to yourself to give self-employment a chance. You will be astonished by the renewed energy you will experience in your career.

ABOUT DISCOVERY SURVEYS, INC. Discovery Surveys, Inc. provides research-generated insights to help our clients discover how to delight their employees and customers.
more information . . .

Contact Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D.",The Survey Doctor"
9 Blair Circle Sharon, MA 02067
Voice - 781-784-4367 Fax - 781-784-6450
E-mail - [email protected]
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