Debunking fears of self-employment (Part 3)

Part 3 in our continuing series on debunking some of the common fears that hold people back from being self-employed.

I won’t have any time off.

Paid time off is one of the best parts of having a job. There’s nothing better than spending a week on vacation – and getting paid for it.

A lot of people think that self-employment means that you never get to take any time off. How can you ever get away from “the job” when you’re “the boss?”

Giving up paid time off used to be one of the reasons why I was reluctant to be self-employed. But then I realized that I was thinking about things the wrong way.

You see, when an employer gives you “paid time off,” they’re really just forcing you to forego some extra income.

Think of it this way. If you make $50,000 a year at your job, and you have two weeks of paid time off each year, technically, if you were to save all two weeks until the end of the year and then resign from your job on Dec. 31, you would be owed an extra two weeks of pay. ($50,000 divided by 250 working days = $200 per day, times 10 days equals $2,000.)

So by “giving” you two weeks of paid time off each year, your employer isn’t really “giving” you anything – they’re just choosing how to apportion your income. Your employer chooses to keep two weeks worth of your pay in a special “account,” and then at the end of the year when you use up your time, your “account” is empty.

When you work for yourself, you can decide how to apportion your money – all of it.

What if you want to take a month off? (This can be hard for most self-employed people to do, but it can be done.)

Or, what if you don’t want to take the time off, and you want to make even more money instead? (Most self-employed people don’t take a lot of time off – they work longer hours and more weeks per year than they did when they worked for a company – look at me for example; I’m typing this post at 5:41 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I love it.) I think the reason most self-employed people work so much is not because they don’t have a choice, but because they actually ENJOY their work.

For example, I love doing work for my freelance clients. I love it. I think about freelancing all the time. I’m always thinking of new ways to word things, new ideas to share with my clients, new ways to bid on projects and win new business.

So for me, I don’t mind working on holidays. I don’t mind taking the laptop on vacation. As long as I enjoy the work, and as long as I’m actually going to make money from the time and effort I put in, I’m happy to do the extra work.

I don’t worry much anymore about “not having paid time off.” Because compared to working in a cubicle, every day of self-employment feels like a paid vacation.

One comment

  1. I can’t agree more. PTO is completely pathetic in corporate America. 2 weeks is a ridiculously small amount of vacation compared to Europe. In all EU countries, minimum mandatory PTO is 5 weeks. In France, it’s 6 weeks. They also do not allow ‘banking’ the PTO like here, which means you have to take 2 weeks off in winter and 3 weeks off in summer. It is mandatory as a measure to prevent people from burning themselves out. In USA, 2 weeks is so little to do anything (you can’t really travel around in Europe in just 2 weeks, it takes one whole day to just fly there) so a lot of people ‘bank’ their PTO by not using any of it for 2 years and then use the whole thing at once.

    Employees in corporate America are far worse off than the rest of the developed world, and most of them don’t even know it. How very sad!

    As of today, I am unemployed, and I’m actually happy that they cut me loose. It came as a blessing, now I can fully focus on my Internet marketing, information product and other entrepreneurial projects, while applying to various freelance gigs on odesk and Elance, and the government has extended the unemployed benefits so I’m going full throttle with the entrepreneurship.

    The comfort is what kills us, we get too used to settling in the cubicle prison and develop the dreadful Stockholm Syndrome.