Self-Employment: A Career Option for You?
If you answered "yes" to many of these questions, self-employment may be a career option for you to think about.
Being your own boss has advantages and disadvantages. For example, self-employment may allow you to:
- make your own work
- set your own hours
- control where, when and how you work
- use your creativity
- balance your work and life.
On the other hand, it may also involve:
- working long hours to meet deadlines or deal with problems
- managing an unpredictable income
- giving up benefits, such as sick days, holiday pay and pensions
- working independently, without a support system of co-workers
- making a financial investment with the potential for loss
Only you can decide if the advantages of self-employment would outweigh the disadvantages for you. A lot depends on:
- your personal situation, such as your financial resources and commitments, family responsibilities, personal support system, local labour market, etc.
- your skills and knowledge. For help identifying your strengths, check out Do You Have the Skills Employers Want? (see Other Relevant Tips) or visit Know Yourself in ALIS’ free interactive career planning tool at alis.alberta.ca/careerinsite
- your willingness to work hard and take calculated risks. For help identifying your risk-taking style, check out Risk-Taking and Career Decisions (see Other Relevant Tips).
If you would like to become your own boss, the following tips will help you get started:
- Talk to people who are self-employed, such as computer consultants, insurance brokers and owners of hair salons, coffee shops and other small businesses. Ask them how they got started, what they like and dislike about being self-employed, and what they would do differently if they were starting over.
- Find out as much as possible about business activity in your community, including what products or services are currently in demand and what trends are expected to influence demand for products or services in the future.
- Scan the business sections of your local newspapers every day.
- Visit the main branch of your local public library and talk to a reference librarian for help finding business-related resources for your community, including online information.
- Connect with your local chamber of commerce through the Alberta Chambers of Commerce membership directory at www.abchamber.ca
- Learn about how to start your own business.
- Identify the knowledge, experience and skills you’ll need to succeed, such as organizational skills and bookkeeping knowledge. If you need to improve your skills, check out Many Training Paths Develop Skills and Knowledge (see Other Relevant Tips).
Self-employment involves both challenges and rewards. Being aware of potential problems will help you anticipate and plan for them, using some of the many resources and supports available. If you’re ready for the challenges and eager to experience the satisfaction of being your own boss, then self-employment may be a great option for you.
Relevant Tips (alis.alberta.ca/tips)
Additional Reading (alis.alberta.ca/publications)