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4 Signs You Have What It Takes to Be Self-Employed and Leave Traditional Jobs Behind

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Have you noticed more and more people quitting their jobs… and going to work for themselves? It’s not just you! The number of self-employed workers is growing, and quickly.

According to results from FreshBooks’ Second Annual Self-Employment Report, nearly 27 million Americans are anticipated to leave traditional work behind in favor of self-employment by the year 2020.

FreshBooks’s report included 2,700 profiles of self-employed individuals—not members of the gig economy. (That means no side hustles alongside full-time jobs; self-employed workers earn their primary income on independent, client-based work.)

So, why are so many people with traditional jobs turning to self-employment as the next major step in their career? Motivation for a career change and a desire for control over their careers both tied at 43%. Financial reasons ranked at 33%, with family reasons at 32%, and health concerns at 15%. One of the best stats shown in the report: 97% of currently self-employed professionals have no desire to return to work—and 70% are actively working to grow their business.

If you’re not sure you have what it takes to be self-employed, review these signs and see if you might be ready to take the jump.


1. You’re educated. And eager to learn new skills, too.

According to the research in the FreshBooks report, it’s important to learn and be learning. Self-employed individuals—regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity—are largely an educated bunch. Among them, 65% have a bachelor’s degree, while 23% have a master’s degree.

With a strong education, you’ll have a groundwork for success. And that makes sense—you learn how to listen, solve problems, maintain a sense of discipline and strategy for reaching key goals, and keep learning new skills.

But learning new skills might not always be a priority when working in a traditional job. Maybe the employer can’t afford to pay for classes or provide sufficient training. Suddenly your desire to learn has been shelved to revisit later, leaving you stuck in the same routine.

If you’re eager to learn something new, though, self-employment might be right up your alley. And when you do make the shift from traditional work to self-employment, be sure to consider how you’ll start learning those necessary new skills. Consider reaching out to a mentor for advice, enroll in classes, or take a webinar to get started. You can even apprentice—it’s not just for the Middle Ages!

→Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR): Make sure you have a solid foundation of skills, and that you’re ready to take on new ones, too. Have a plan for how you’re going to learn.

2. You’re financially secure.

Money is hard for everyone—but especially if you’re a solopreneur.

Cash remains one of the most significant challenges to running a successful business. That’s in large part because it touches every part of small business—seeking funding, employing staff, finding new customers, and more.

One of the best actions to take before making the leap into self-employment is to make certain you’re financially secure.

Prep by:

  • paying down or paying off debt
  • setting a budget to better understand how much you’ll need to make in order to maintain your lifestyle
  • creating a financial nest egg as your Plan B cushion in case of an emergency

→TL;DR: Make sure you’re in good financial standing before your transition.


3. You’re ready to be in control.

Control is one of the biggest motivators for lots of people pursuing self-employment, right? After all, how can one control their career in a traditional 9 to 5 job when each day feels repetitive, and there’s no wiggle room?

The self-employed workforce values flexibility over stability. That means workers have the ability to set their own schedules and work during hours at which they’re most productive.

If you’re ready to be in control, remember that flexibility still comes with responsibility. You’ll continue to put in the hours and work long weeks, but on your own terms.

→TL;DR: You’re ready to set your own hours—but understand that the freedom comes with less stability.

4. You’re confident.

Self-employment isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires keeping the momentum going—even on those days where everything goes wrong.

Being resourceful and strategic, patient, and ready to work harder than you ever have before are non-negotiables. Above all, you need to be confident. There’ll be slow seasons, off days, and uncertainty that you never could have imagined. However, if you’re naturally confident and maintain an optimistic attitude, you will be successful.

Better than successful, you’ll be satisfied—and a member of that 97% that sees no need to return to traditional work!

→TL;DR: There’s no sugarcoating that not every day of self-employment will be fun—so get ready to weather the storm. If you can, you’ll be glad you did.

So, Are You Ready to Be Self-Employed?

These signs should be a good indicator:

  • You have a good foundation of knowledge in your industry, you’re ready to learn new skills that you’ll need as a solopreneur, and you have a plan to learn them.
  • You understand that finances won’t be as stable, so you have a good safety net—or at least have reduced your financial volatility—before jumping into self-employment.
  • You’re excited about making your own hours, knowing that you’ll also be responsible for motivating yourself.
  • You’re up for the bad times as much as the good.

If this sounds like you, it just might be time to join the ranks of solopreneurs!

Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best.