If you’re one to keep an eye on the latest trends around the world, it probably hasn’t escaped your attention that there’s a steadily rising number of people quitting the ‘rat race’ to build their own business from home or outside the home. The increased accessibility of high-speed internet all around the world has meant that professionals can easily connect with each other and do business projects from their laptop, regardless of their location. The combination of shifting personal priorities and a greater desire for more freedom, flexibility, purpose, and creativity has meant that more and more people are choosing to throw in their stable 9-5 job to pursue their own business.
Freelancers now make up 35% of the American and Australian workforces, and these numbers steadily are on the rise.
And the percentage of freelancers is even higher among the younger workforce. A survey conducted by Upwork and published in The Herald Sun showed that in Australia, “Among workers aged 18 – 24 years old, 47% are freelancing either part-time or full-time, versus 28% of Baby Boomers”. Having grown up in the digital world, it’s natural that young people in the modern era are more flexible, agile, networked, and connected – the perfect ingredients for entrepreneurship and freelancing. It’s interesting to note also that the majority of older people who chose to start their own business did not do so out of necessity, but by choice (57% of the total), with flexibility, freedom, and improved work-life balance “luring them from the rigid confines of the 38-hour work week.”
I know that when I was growing up, freelancing seemed incredibly risky to me; the responsibility for generating your own income throughout all economic cycles seemed like a far bigger risk than I was willing to take. However, independent workforce surveys such as the UpWork survey in the USA show that freelancers are now, in fact, earning more relative to their old jobs. Among respondents in the UpWork survey, more than half are earning more than they did getting a steady paycheck in their former job. A total of 46% were able to successfully raise their rates in the past year.
Fifty-three percent of freelancers believe that having a diverse portfolio of clients is more economically secure than having one employer. Times are changing indeed.
But if you’re sitting on the fence about whether to finally answer that little voice that’s nudging you to quit your day job to pursue something closer to your heart, I understand from personal experience how hard it is to make that decision. Deciding to leave a stable career path and reliable salary for an unknown outcome, no matter how exciting or appealing the idea, is absolutely not an easy decision to make to. And it’s not one that I made lightly myself. It wasn’t until I started suffering from severe chronic health issues that I was finally forced to change direction (you can read my full story here). And even when all the signs were pointing to the fact that I needed to branch out on my own, it was still an absolutely terrifying thought; I had a lot of fear and insecurity to overcome before I was able to consider the idea of becoming a ‘business owner’ seriously.
But since taking the leap of faith to start my own business, I haven’t looked back. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, for the reasons I’m about to share with you. Of course, it hasn’t always been easy.
Starting your own business is not for the faint-hearted. It requires enormous amounts of resilience, grit, perseverance, and most of all, belief in yourself. But the rewards more than outweigh the sweat and tears you put in.
There are days when it all feels too hard and I want to give up on my dream (as I write about in my article Those Days When I Want to Give Up On My Dream – And 7 Ways I Manage to Get Through Them). But they’re happening less frequently as I establish more reliable structures, systems, and approaches that allow me to earn a more reliable and predictable income. Establishing yourself successfully in your own business won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. As long as you approach it with a practical, low-risk strategy and get advice from those who have gone before you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
The 5 big reasons why you should break free to follow your heart to start your own business.
1. You’ll Enjoy Greater Freedom and Flexibility
If you’re tired of the groundhog days of alarm clocks, rushing and commuting, then you’ll love being your own boss. No more forcing yourself into the office early in the morning no matter how late you stayed up the night before, or the complete lack of free time to do the things that sustain and nourish you. As your own boss, you can work according to your own schedule and work with the natural rhythms of your body clock and creative impulses. I love that I can now take time off when I need to and catch up on my work in the evening if I have to. Freedom and flexibility have become especially important to me since becoming a mother to our two young children.
Yes, you’ll need to have robust self-discipline and sufficient structure in your days to force you to be productive and be able to enjoy the traction and momentum you need in your business. But when you’re doing something you love, it’s not hard to find the motivation to get onto your work.
It’s been my experience that structure and routine are your best allies as a small business owner. The good part is, you get to decide on the business structure and routine that suits you.
2. You Can Do Things on Your Own Terms
If you’re someone who finds it hard to be micro-managed or to follow someone else’s ideas (especially if you don’t agree with them), then you’ll love being your own boss. In the great article “Why entrepreneurs choose freedom over money”, they conclude:
“Despite the fact that people who work for themselves often work more, have fewer benefits and experience more on-the-job stress than those who work in a company, the majority of Americans would prefer to be entrepreneurs. Our research shows that entrepreneurs are more satisfied with their jobs – and happier in general.
Workplace autonomy is a powerful motivator.”
3. You’ll Experience More Fun and Pleasure in Your Work
I really needed to pinch myself the first time I received money for my coaching services; it seemed such a gift to be paid for something I found so enjoyable and enriching. Doing something you love really is the biggest gift you can give yourself. Plus, entrepreneurs are a fun bunch of people! It continues to amaze and inspire me to see how much entrepreneurs seem to enjoy their work. One of my favourite mentors Jeanna Gabellini always says:
“If it ain’t fun, don’t do it!”
– Jeanna Gabellini
A central part of Jeanna’s work and message is teaching people how to harness the Law of Attraction in their business to attract more profits and abundance, and having fun is an essential part! This was something that took me a long time to get used to. I was used to having to work hard and to ‘struggle’ at work; I’d come to accept that work is a necessary evil to pay the bills and to get ahead in the world. It feels so great to now to actually have fun in my work each and every day.
4. You Get to Fully Express Your Unique Gifts and Talents
You have your own unique zone of ‘natural genius’ – the things that you’re naturally good at without even trying. During my corporate career, I think I was operating in my own zone of natural genius only about 20% of the time. The rest of the time I was doing things that weren’t aligned with my natural strengths and didn’t feel joyful. I know that every career includes tasks and activities that we like and many task and activities that we don’t like. But when you’re working in a way that allows you to fully express the gifts you do have, somehow the other parts don’t feel so onerous or annoying – they’re in service to the beautiful thing you’re creating through your business.
5. You Get to See the Direct Results of Your Efforts and Enjoy Making a Positive Difference
Do you often wonder whether your daily work is having any impact? In my former career I spent countless hours writing Business Cases, proposals and strategic plans that were often shelved, delayed due to lack of funding, or often dismissed because it was “not the way we’ve always done things”. And while I was part of some important breakthroughs during my career, I wanted to spend less time justifying and defending my ideas and more time just getting on and doing them.
When you work for yourself, you can pitch your idea and philosophy clearly and those who resonate with your vision – and need exactly what you’re offering – can respond. And then you can get on with the task of serving those people directly and effectively. I believe the more people who embrace their yearning to make a difference and put themselves out there to start serving in their own unique way, the faster we’ll see things improve in the world.
Are you ready to leave your day job to start your own business?
If you’re at the point of wondering whether you should leave your career behind to pursue something closer to your heart, Helena Klein suggests asking yourself these questions:
- Do you have to justify your job to yourself and others?
Do you find yourself saying your work is actually ‘not that bad’, when in reality you know there must be a more joyful and fulfilling way to spend your working days?
- Is your work giving you energy or draining you of it?
Is there at least one part of your work that you look forward to each day? If there’s no part of your work that truly excites you, it’s time to make some changes.
- Is there anybody I work with whose life I would like to have?
If you don’t see any positive role models at work to look up to and who have the kind of life you want, then why are you there? There is no use in working your way up to a job that you don’t want to have.
- Do you feel inspired by your work?
Are you able to think freely, out of the box? Or do you feel trapped and patronized? If you spend too much time completing other people’s tasks, ignoring your own thoughts, or withholding your talent from the world, then it’s time to think seriously about change.
- Last but not least: is my work in line with my personal values?
If the things you’re doing at work don’t feel good to you, this is a big warning sign. You should feel proud of what you do and feel good about yourself when you do it.
As Farnoosh Ahram says:
“If you want to venture out on your own, pursue a call to greatness and live a meaningful life on your own terms, do it. Do not wait for permission. Do not wait for acceptance or validation. Do.Not.Wait, my friend. Because time is the one thing that you cannot buy back with all the gold and power in the world.”
Do you yearn to discover your unique path and purpose and to thrive financially, while doing work you love? Then get yourself a FREE copy of my E-Book PATHFINDING: How to Find Your Unique Path and Purpose and learn how to build a career that unites your true nature, your passion and your natural genius into work that is a full expression of yourself, allowing you to get your unique and valuable gifts into the world in a way that is FUN and deeply fulfilling!
In service to helping you live your fullest and brightest life,
Katie De Jong, Ph.D