Do you really have more freedom as an entrepreneur than as an employee?
The answer: Yes and no.
The primary complaint with the typical 9 to 5 schedule is that it simply leaves you too freaking tired to do anything personally fulfilling after work. From the moment you wake up, to the moment you go to bed, you’re in constant motion, either preparing to show up somewhere, plowing through something or preparing to leave.
When I became fully self-employed, I thought I would be able to fix all the glaring problems with the “employee schedule” by simply doing the opposite of what I didn’t like. Well, I’m here to tell you that these proposed solutions did not work out like I thought they would. Not even close, actually.
Here are three lies I was told about entrepreneurial life. How many of these do you believe?
Lie # 1: You’ll get to sleep in
You might think to yourself, “6 a.m. is too early to wake up! When I’m my own boss, I’ll make my own schedule and wake up when I feel like it!”
The truth: If you read biographies or stories about the world’s most successful people, you’ll hear over and over again that they get up at INSANE hours like 3 and 4 a.m. to start working. You may even think that even if you stayed up late, as long as you get sleep, it doesn’t really matter when you get up the next day. Eight hours is 8 hours, right?
Unfortunately, getting up early makes a huge difference. Waking up at 5 or 6 a.m. allows you to have an entirely different day than waking up at 10 a.m., simply because you’re getting a four or five-hour jump on projects when you’re primed to be most productive.
Benjamin Franklin was right when he said “early to bed, early to rise…makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
And that really sucks…because everyone loves sleeping in.
Unfortunately, entrepreneurs can’t.
Lie #2: You’ll have more free time to work on side projects
You might think, “I don’t have any time to work on hobbies/skills/projects I enjoy. When I work for myself, I’ll make time in the middle of the day to do things that are important. There’s no boss here except me!”
The truth: You may be convinced that once you control your own schedule, you’ll be able to do what you want, when you want, and fit everything else in around that. To an extent, that is true. You do have some flexibility in your day most of the time.
But (and this is a big “but”), you’re still accountable to many people. In fact, entrepreneurs are probably accountable to more people than those with regular jobs. Even though you don’t have a boss, you’ll have clients, partners and colleagues who depend on you daily to help them with things.
And that’s something worth thinking about. Even if you ditch your boss, you’ll still need the support of other people to make it on your own. Nobody is an island.
Additionally, since you don’t have set work hours, any time and all the time can be working hours. If something comes up, you have to handle it. There’s no calling in sick and having someone do your job. It’s all you.
Most days, you won’t have a gigantic block of free time in the middle of the day to do whatever you want. You may not be stuck in a cubicle, but you’ll still be busy working.
So, while nobody can tell you can’t work on your passion projects, it’s not a free-for-all. Lots of things still have to get done and, just like a regular working Joe, you need to make sure you’re meeting your obligations.
(PS — When I do work on my own hobbies/pursuits, I always use the Seinfeld Solution.)
Lie #3: You’ll be more comfortable working from home
You might think, “It’s so hard to stay focused at work. I’d love to be able to work somewhere quiet and comfortable, like my bed. When I have my own business, pajamas for work every day!”
The truth: Working from home, especially from the comfort of your PJs, is a perk that infomercial kingpins have touted about self-employment for years. “Imagine the thrill of working from home!”
The reality is that for many people, working from home sucks. Not because it’s not enjoyable, but because you simply can’t get anything done at home. Between the TV flickering in the background, the fridge calling your name and the dog running around, productive work time can be a challenge.
You may find that you have to leave the house just to get anything done.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Self-employment is still amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The upsides definitely outweigh the downsides.