Work for yourself, be your own boss. For a lot of us, that is the dream. But it entails a huge risk, and so it is worth asking when is the right time to ditch the office and fly solo.
Since this blog is about digital marketing, I’m speaking primarily to people who work in this industry. The ideas are applicable to entrepreneurs in general, but digital marketing is one industry in which most of us have at least contemplated self-employment.
In this post I suggest some ways to think about the issue of self-employment and whether it is the right time for you. Everyone is different, and no two circumstances are exactly alike, but hopefully these suggestions will help focus your thoughts as you evaluate what is best for you.
Evaluate your responsibilities.
I’ve pretty much always tried to do my own thing, even when that meant living in my parents’ house and racking up credit card debt on a venture that never panned out. If I’d had kids throughout my twenties, then my path would have been an abject disaster. Having dependents should not disqualify anyone from taking any chances, but it does require they be a bit more thoughtful. You don’t want to bet the family farm to chase a pipe-dream if you have a safer alternative. Instead, having responsibilities should sharpen your analysis.
It should also help you summon the drive and focus you will need to succeed. Without a sense of urgency, you risk puttering away your time cleaning the house, responding to emails, and sleeping in. Don’t kid yourself: your own human frailties will be your biggest obstacle in almost every endeavor. There will come a time when you need a reason to slog through the long hours, and your responsibilities can be that reason.
If you do have a family, you’ll need to have their buy-in before striking out on your own. They are taking the risk with you, and if they strongly oppose it, that’s a good indication that the timing is not right for you to leave the stability of your job.
Other responsibilities, like debt, are a bit different. Your school loan won’t bring you coffee when you’re tired or be there to celebrate the little wins with you. I think I have a pretty high tolerance for risk, but even I would not risk a foreclosure or bankruptcy without a really good reason. Ultimately that’s a personal determination for you to make, but when you take a risk in life, you must be ready to accept failure as a real possibility.
Evaluate your costs.
One of the great things about digital marketing is that it doesn’t take much more than an internet connection to do our jobs. Sure there are programs and tools, some of which are indispensable, but it’s nothing compared to the capital costs of opening, say, a restaurant or a factory.
The primary costs we face are likely to be living and opportunity costs. Most people could stand to trim back on their living expenses. That’s something you should do before quitting your job, not after. Get a roommate, downsize, get a cheaper car, cook at home, whatever you need to do to lower the “burn rate” of being alive so you have more runway to start your business.
Then there is the opportunity cost of leaving your job. In addition to foregone wages, you forego any promotions and wages you might have otherwise had. But opportunity cost cuts both ways. The opportunity cost of playing it safe is that you may miss a chance at fulfillment and success that only self employment can give. At a minimum, you would miss the chance of knowing “what if”.
Evaluate your qualifications.
Are you ready to take full responsibility for your work? Do you have the skills and experience to deliver what you promise your customers? If you have never done digital marketing in a structured, professional environment, then you may be biting off more than you can chew if you try to position yourself as an expert in the marketplace.
Others may disagree, but I think there’s a lot to learn from working at an agency, and it’s not a bad idea to pay your dues before representing yourself as an expert to customers. But if you excelled as an employee, you may well excel as your own boss.
Evaluate the opportunity.
What do you hope to achieve out of going into business for yourself? Is it about the lifestyle, the money, or something else? If autonomy is important to you, self employment can give you that. If you want the chance to get rich, self employment at least makes that a possibility – even if it’s a remote one.
Maybe it is an opportunity to spend more time with your family by working from home. Or maybe you just need to obey the creative urge that drives us to make things. Self employment gives you an opportunity to build your own business the way you want it.
But if you’re looking for an opportunity to work less and take it easy, you probably have the wrong idea about self-employment.
How Ethical Digital can help.
The reality of flying solo is that you’re often stuck wearing so many hats that you can’t get off the ground. That’s why we built our business to help make self-employment manageable for digital marketing entrepreneurs.
We are like a business partner who supplies the website, the brand, the marketing, the competitive research, the finance, and the legal; who covers refunds, invests in tools and resources, and builds a network of talented professionals to cover any areas that you prefer not to cover. You get to focus on the work you’re good at while we handle the rest. For all that we take a cut of 30%, at least half of which we invest back into the resources you use.
We don’t tell you how to run your business, and we certainly can’t run it for you. What we do is empower you to build the business you want for yourself.
So when is the right time to go solo?
With Ethical Digital, the bar to self-employment in the digital marketing industry is much lower than ever before. But the above considerations still apply. If you have five kids and are living paycheck to paycheck, don’t go quitting your day job just yet.
Instead, why not ease into self-employment by using Ethical Digital to take on some side work? There’s no cost to sign up, and it doesn’t hurt to get your feet wet before jumping in.
We make it easy to work as much or as little as you want. The right time to go solo is when you’re ready, but the right time to get started is now. Just visit our careers page, or better yet sign up through another agent’s profile and they’ll get a bonus for referring you!