How to Work for Yourself:
Benefits, Best Careers, and Everything You Need to Know
We’ve all met or heard of business owners, consultants, and other professionals that have full control over all aspects of their jobs. The idea of being able to control your schedule, work in an industry that you like, and still make a great living is enticing for a huge number of reasons. But, to achieve this goal, you need to invest time into learning how to work for yourself and identifying the best careers that give you the highest chances of success.
There are many high-paying work-for-yourself ideas that allow you to make a good living while also maintaining a flexible schedule. That said, everyone is different, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula that you can follow to successfully start working for yourself.
Let’s look at work-for-yourself jobs, their benefits, and everything you should keep in mind before starting your next project.
Before Getting Started…
When you ask the question “how can I work for myself?” the first thing to come to mind is probably owning your own business.
While this is a legitimate alternative, it’s important to understand that focusing on work-for-yourself careers doesn’t necessarily mean starting your own business right away.
The different options will be covered later on in this article, but remember that many independent workers follow similar paths to success. Simply put, most early-stage professionals hone their skills and get hands-on experience at an established company before thinking about becoming independent.
Established experts take a different path, often branching off their current employers while staying in the same industry. At the same time, established professionals that start working for themselves can also choose new specialties that they’re truly passionate about, which usually shortens their learning curve.
What does this all mean? There is no linear path to working for yourself, so you should evaluate your strengths, interests, and personality type using a validated career assessment test in order to find the best fit for you.
What Are the Advantages of Working for Yourself?
It’s no secret that most people are not passionate about their jobs.
A recent poll suggests that 92% of employees are willing to switch industries if they get the right opportunities, which signifies how disconnected people feel from their careers. The same poll also revealed that more than 30% of respondents see burnout as the main cause of their desire to switch, with another 29% naming lack of growth opportunities.
The good news is that work-for-yourself careers help solve these two challenges while also bringing additional benefits. These include:
While there are hundreds of different ways to work for yourself, the one thing most of these have in common is that they offer flexibility. In this context, flexibility refers to the ability to make your own schedule, decide how much you want to earn (and make) a certain month, and how much time off you want to take, among other choices.
The Ability to Make Decisions
As an employee, not having the ability to make decisions and influence the direction of the company can impact your perceived value. As an independent worker, you’re in control of the decisions that you make and where you want to take your career. Remember, your results will be directly tied to your performance, so you need to excel expectations regardless of your level of involvement in the project.
A Higher Income
When you work as a conventional employee, most of the value you generate remains with the business you work for. As an independent worker, your services are more valuable than in-house talent, which companies are more willing to pay top dollar for. Furthermore, independent workers tend to be more productive when they work, which allows them to achieve more in a shorter time span.
Elements You Should Evaluate Before Working for Yourself
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when pursuing work-for-yourself opportunities is setting the wrong expectations. If you only focus on the positives of working independently, you may end up overlooking crucial elements that you need to verify beforehand.
Here are some of the elements that you should evaluate before you start working for yourself.
Even if you feel like you already know all possible answers, take a moment to ask “why do I want to work for myself?”
Independent work can be a means to an end, but if your main goal is simply to make a lot of money quickly, you won’t enjoy the little things that this setup has to offer. It’s extremely hard to become so successful that you can retire when you’re 40 under any circumstances.
So, instead of focusing on money or material possessions, you should think about lifestyle goals and how becoming an independent worker will help you achieve them. You don’t have to dedicate yourself to a career you absolutely love, but it’s always better if your motivations go beyond money.
Sure, some independent workers have their own offices, but you’ll likely start working from home in your early days. Now, it’s true that everyone can transform a part of their home into a work-friendly area, but you also need more than a comfortable and quiet place to perform certain tasks.
For instance, you may need a stable fast internet connection, a professional-looking background for conference calls, or the ability to record audio clips to successfully work from home.
By evaluating your home setup early on, you'll be able to create the perfect environment to stay focused and excel at your job.
Potentially Varying Income
Arguably the best benefit of a conventional employment contract is the steady income. The structure may vary, but work-for-yourself careers are often performance-based. In most cases, independent workers are paid either per hour, per task, through sales commissions, or in a similar manner.
This results in income fluctuations, which means that independent workers have to be a bit more careful with their planning. In this sense, all independent workers have to behave like business owners, regardless of their actual setup.
The Different Roles that You Need to Fulfill
Another similarity between most independent workers and conventional business owners is that both have to wear multiple hats to ensure the success of their venture. If you work for yourself, you’re in charge of attracting clients, closing deals, filing your taxes, and completing all other required tasks.
How to Start Working for Yourself
No independent worker is exactly like another, so you have to decide on the best setup and industry based on your requirements. That said, there are a few general steps that most professionals follow when transitioning to an independent work style.
1. Create a Comprehensive Plan
The only way to create a successful plan that allows you to work for yourself is to analyze your situation and figure out what skills/resources you have available. Once you have evaluated your prior knowledge, budget, and similar elements, you should create a detailed plan that includes short-term goals as well as the steps you’ll take to achieve them.
2. Research All Potential Alternatives
Many independent workers leave their employers because they don’t like the industry but remain in the same field regardless, creating an endless cycle. To avoid this, you should evaluate potential alternatives and find a specialty that you love, but also has the potential to generate a significant amount of revenue.
Do you like creating online content and have a huge amount of knowledge about pet care? Then consider starting a channel or podcast about this topic. Just because you’ve never thought about an industry before doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful.
3. Take the Leap and Make Adjustments Along the Way
The last step may be the most difficult, but also the most important. You need to trust your instincts, start applying for jobs, and make adjustments that improve your chances of success along the way.
Top 10 Work-for-Yourself Jobs
It’s hard to grade how good a job is because it’s subjective.
With that said, most people would agree that a good job provides the ability to make a good living, take time off when necessary, and enjoy the work without burning out. The good news is that there are many great careers that allow you to work for yourself while enjoying these benefits.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 work-for-yourself jobs available today in no particular order.
Best Resources to Start Working for Yourself
Perseverance and hard work will take you a long way when it comes to finding ways to work for yourself. That said, professionals that specialize in working independently often bring something to the table that most in-house employees don’t currently have. This can be technical information, productivity best practices for a certain industry, or any other type of applicable knowledge.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to limit your options to the skills you currently have. If you’re willing to view your work-for-yourself aspirations as a long-term project, you can expand your skills and explore professional opportunities by using a variety of platforms. These include:
Google Digital Garage and Other Free Resources
There are many free resources that help you grow your skills, but Google Digital Garage may be the most powerful one. As the name suggests, this learning portal was designed by Google and it offers basic-to-advanced courses on different types of online marketing. Likewise, you can also opt for alternative free resources provided by Moz, Hubspot, and similar platforms.
Udemy and Similar Paid Education Platforms
Despite the fact that it offers free courses, Udemy has become one of the leading paid online education platforms because of the quality of its content. This, along with other reliable learning sites like Lynda.com, will help you shorten your learning curve and pick up tips that are not available in free content.
Examples of How to Work for Yourself
While these were mentioned briefly in this article, it’s important to know that independent workers usually follow one of three common paths. You can either branch off your current career, pursue a new profession, or form a partnership with a company that allows you to keep your independence.
Let’s look at examples of each.
Branching Off Your Current Career
Branching off your current career is the most common way that independent workers get started. Besides having in-depth industry knowledge, individuals in this position also have a good idea of where to get leads, how to hire reliable employees, and what they need to deliver in order to keep customers happy.
The best part is that this can be applied to almost all careers. For example, if you’re a plumber, you can save and set up a plumbing company that follows the best practices you picked up at your old employer’s. Think something along the lines of Howard Schultz, who started out as a Starbucks part-time employee before raising half a million dollars and purchasing the whole company in 1987.
Starting a New Career
This approach requires professionals to start a new career from scratch-- but it gives them the ability to really choose something that moves them. There are many examples to choose from here, like Travis Kalanick, who founded a file exchange service called Scour before founding ridesharing giant Uber.
Working for a Company While Keeping Full Independence
This setup can have many names -- contractors, independent consultants, and similar terms -- but it’s basically an agreement where a professional works for a business while still maintaining full flexibility.
In these hybrid agreements, you only get paid when you work or otherwise generate value, like real estate agents that control their own schedule but are expected to reach a certain sales goal periodically.
Ready to Start Working for Yourself? Contact CareerFitter and We’ll Be Glad to Help
CareerFitter is a platform designed to help you find the best career options based on your personality and professional strengths. If you’re interested in knowing what work environment suits you best, take a free career assessment test and find out today.