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Self-Employment: Rewards and Challenges

Being your own boss has many rewards. But often, the rewards have a flip side. Having a good sense of the points below could help you determine if this is a path for you.


Some of the best rewards of working for yourself include

  • setting your own hours
  • deciding when, where, and how you work—for instance, working from home
  • using your skills and talents to be creative
  • doing what you love
  • working within your own values
  • balancing work and home life
  • making more money than you might working for someone else


Some of the hardest parts of being your own boss include

  • having to run all aspects of your business
  • finding the funds to get started and keep growing
  • juggling paid work with building your business
  • building relationships with people who can help you
  • working long hours to meet deadlines or fix problems
  • living with an income that is hard to predict
  • giving up paid holidays and health insurance or paying for your own benefits plan
  • lacking co-workers to share the ups, downs, and workload
  • risking your money on your business
  • dealing with ups and downs in work flow

Self-employment can also come with demands you haven’t thought of, such as trying to

  • market your company without the right kind of experience
  • set up systems that will help you run your company better
  • stay on-task without colleagues or supervisors
  • plan your direction and then steer things that way
  • handle tasks you might not enjoy, like bookkeeping or public relations

Be aware of factors like these, but don’t let them get you down. With research, training, and experience, you can deal with them. A mentor can also be a great source of wisdom.

Your personal life

How you see the rewards and challenges of self-employment may depend partly on your personal life. For instance, it may be less scary to think about starting a business if you have a partner with a steady income, or if you don’t have children to support. It may be better to work long hours if you don’t have children, or if they are grown.

Being self–employed can allow you to focus on something you care about, set your own hours, and put your own stamp on your business. Just make sure you’re up for the long hours, hard work, and perhaps an unstable income.

The point is to think about the trade-offs between your personal life and your new venture and balance your priorities wisely.

Some questions to ask

To decide if self-employment is right for you, think about your personal situation, including your financial resources, commitments, family responsibilities, personal support system, and the local labour market. Ask yourself

  • How long can I afford to have an unstable income?
  • How much do I care about benefits like paid holidays and health insurance?
  • Can my partner’s work cover both of us (and our children) with benefits?
  • Do I have a marketable product or skill?
  • Do I have any business knowledge?
  • Am I willing to work hard and take full charge of the success of my business?
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