The best things about working for yourself

Being master of your own destiny. This is a biggie. As Trent, who runs his own food business says, “you want to get up, you want to do stuff, because you can see where you are going and what is happening.”

Getting to do something that you love. Levente, a personal trainer, says “If someone wants to lose weight, or someone wants to be stronger or more muscular, I really enjoy seeing the achievement."

"It’s like giving a present, when you see how happy they are.”

And being able to pursue what interests you. Kerry, an acupuncturist, says “I like where I can take my work. I feel like there are no limits to how much depth of understanding and ideas can continually be put into place.”

Dan, who has a dogwalking business, says “I love being outside, in the green. I love dogs, I grew up with dogs. I’m always learning something new. There are endless books to read and stories to listen to, and advice to try out.”

Not being told what to do or following silly instructions. Dawn, a former teacher, says: “There is no policy person sitting in Westminster dictating to me. I’m not a political pawn.” Or as Lacey, a life coach, says, "Before I felt like I was in a cage. I had to abide by someone else’s rules whether they were logical or not."

Getting to make all your own decisions. “You can decide where you want to improve things, what can stay the same and so you’re in control of all of the levers rather than somebody else,” says Andrew, a vet.

Being able to work to the standard that pleases you. Julian, who runs a removals business (interview coming soon), clearly take a great deal of satisfaction from being able to do his work really well. Gordon, a web designer, made me laugh when he told me he “was so irritated and annoyed with having worked for such crap companies that I swore I was never going to work for anybody again.”

All your successes are your own. "It can become frustrating working for other people,” says Brian, an architect. He’d had experiences of designing something and “other people taking the credit for it, because it suits the business better.” No-one else is earning a fortune off the back of your labour. Knowing that what you personally are doing is valuable, because someone is willing to pay you for it.

Choosing your own lifestyle. Brian and his wife decided “when our first child was born, we’d try to do something to get more control of our working lives.” And Ida, who has a family business making cards, says “It’s about making time to be with the children, and then working hard when you work.”

Working how you like, when you like, as much as you like. Taking time off if you want to. Austin, an osteopath (interview coming soon), realised that for him, “free time is more important than a pay rise. I realised that for me, for my sanity, I wanted something where I could get up out of a chair. And be on my feet, talking to people.” Lacey is clearly thrilled not to need an alarm clock in her life any more.

Being able to work part time. Kate, an accountant, says “I like being flexible. I’ve got children, so if necessary do the work in evening or the weekends, if I’ve got a day where I want to do something that involves one of the girls.”

Fitting work around other commitments. Making some space to the rest of your life as well as for work. For Stuart, an IT consultant (interview coming soon), being his own boss helps with dealing with a health problem for one of his children.

Working with family. Steven, who runs a carwashing business, talks about how pleased he is to have his teenage daughter working with him, so that she’s learning the pleasures of spending cash earned through her own hard work.

What else? Let me see … no office politics. No commuting. No dress code. Being able to cook your own lunch. Being able to have a dog and go walkies. Freedom to turn away the clients you don’t want to deal with - if you’re lucky. And you never know, you MAY achieve the holy grail of earning more money and working fewer hours. Hurrah!

What do you think? Any more wonderful aspects of working for yourself that I’ve missed out?

See also:
The disadvantages of working for yourself Part I: emotional challenges
The disadvantages of working for yourself Part II: financial challenges
The disadvantages of working for yourself Part III: practical challenges

About the author

Jessica Kennedy
Thursday, 17 May, 2012 - 11:59
United Kingdom

Jessica is an acupuncturist,, and the founder of