One of the most difficult decisions in life is exchanging the stability of a boring 9–5 office job for the freedom of self-employment. The changing employment landscape marred by dwindling compensation and unhealthy work environments has made the shift all the more tempting. From not being tied down by tyrant bosses and having to deal with rude co-workers to taking control over our time and doing what we’re truly good at, most leave corporate employment and never look back.
A survey from 2019 found that approximately 30% of Americans were self-employed. Job loss and stay-at-home orders amid the pandemic only fueled an increase in small businesses, even among youth. Small businesses are trending on TikTok, where users advertise their products and share their workflow and creative packaging ideas, providing an alternative income stream for the unemployed.
However, despite the freedom and opportunities in being our own boss, there are also negative facets to self-employment, constantly challenging our decision to stay out of the traditional office.
There’s a common plague that eats up even the most creative individuals called the imposter syndrome. It’s a state of mind that forces us to believe that we’re under-qualified and have fallen behind the rest of society. It’s often triggered by ending up in a position that isn’t tethered to our skills, like a tech prodigy in an advertising job or a talented creative in sales.
Imposter syndrome is essentially a limiter — it keeps us from growing beyond the confines of what we believe society wants. That means choosing to forego a career in art out of fear that nobody would like our work; instead, grinding our lives away at a stressful insurance job. Or it can be deflating in a constant stream of comparison. “Childhood friend A is successful because they’ve done this and that — I should do the same.”
This mindset can hinder creativity and potential and can trickle into how we approach work. In an environment where earning potential is dependent on how well we perform, it’s important to think twice before doubting ourselves and find positive reinforcement through people who genuinely appreciate our work. So don’t fret: if you meet a roadblock, you’re not a failure. Approach it with your best strategy — like a chess game.
Whether we choose to be content creators or entrepreneurs, getting up in the morning and being responsible for all aspects of the job is a tremendous challenge that constantly puts us on our heels. We’re constantly in a state of conjuring ideas — whether driving or in the shower or walking the dog — and working through numbers to get the most out of every penny invested into a venture. But there are times when inspiration doesn’t come, and we’re left with no good ideas to tide over the next few days.
Sometimes, all we need is a short break from the flurry of work. Take a walk, read a book, watch a movie, talk to a friend — believe it or not, there’s a science behind creativity, which involves increasing our dopamine levels through relaxation. Sometimes we forget that we aren’t working at a 9 to 5 and that it’s okay to get up and move away from the desk to forget about work for a bit and refresh our minds. A small refresher can bring in big ideas, after all!
Staying Behind The Times
The world is evolving at a lightning-fast pace, and people who don’t adapt are quickly being left behind. It doesn’t mean that we should be the first to accept every new invention and technological advancement that comes our way; instead, it means that we have to adapt to the changing world eventually. Like how outdated mom and pop stores are being phased out by Amazon’s e-commerce empire, today’s booming businesses may become null tomorrow.
Keeping up with innovation has its upsides. For instance, socially-savvy TikTokers are making big bucks by advertising their small businesses to the platform’s over 500 million users. Businesses on top of their analytics are able to stock targeted goods that are more likely to sell. Brands that have adapted the M2C model don’t have to deal with the stress of unsold products.
Likewise, from a content creation standpoint, tech evolutions are also outpacing tradition. Gamers have, for years, depended on Twitch to stream content. But other key players, including YouTube, are stepping up their streaming support and offering more lucrative incentives through ads, affiliates, and super chat revenue. ESPA’s entire gaming proposition, which bridges the gap between developers, modders, designers, and casual esports through crypto and NFT-powered ecosystem, is also making a mark in the once exclusive world of competitive gaming.
In short, innovation brings in opportunity and may eventually nullify old practices. It’s important to, at the very least, stay up-to-date with the times to maintain a relevant business strategy.
As self-employed individuals, our revenue is directly impacted by consumers, regardless of which industry we fall under. As a result, it’s pertinent to always be hyper-aware of what they think of our products and services. Interacting with consumers doesn’t require a fancy marketing strategy — simply opening up social channels and encouraging feedback through likes, shares, comments, and chat support are often enough to determine what the audience generally thinks. Their opinions are valuable and can help us pinpoint areas of improvement.
Not Delegating Work
Self-employment isn’t a solo affair — even as a content creator. It’s impossible to juggle the workload of managing the entire operation, plus marketing, communicating with clients, finance, and other necessary aspects of work as a one-person team. Doing everything on our own is a recipe for disaster — the more overworked we are, the less efficient production becomes, making it difficult to progress beyond the starting line. Hiring additional people into the team is the best investment self-employed individuals can make for both the business and ourselves, especially as work picks up.
Choosing a career in entrepreneurship or content creation doesn’t guarantee a one-way ticket to success. That’s why it’s remarkably important to be vigilant about the possible routes to failure and find remedies before issues blow up to bigger proportions. The pandemic has made the playing field more challenging, with closures everywhere, but staying positive and on top of our games can make a world of difference.