I was recently talking with some friends about the worries of being an employee. It scares me to know that families with kids are really at mercy of their employer's success. A large manufacturing company in our small Texas town is closing shop, and people with a steady job from the last 25 years have suddenly found themselves jobless and broke. They were planning to retire in just a few years, and now they're back on the job market trying to find a new job to pay the bills.
Being an employee is scary
It scares me to think that many families in the U.S. and around the world are at the mercy of big corporations that can suddenly go bankrupt. Toys R' Us recently went bankrupt in the U.S. They were too selfish to think of ways to grow their company and keep employees. So, instead, they stayed stuck in their old ways and watched their business fall apart as more people shopped online or went to unique boutique kids stores.
Starting your own business is a little less scary
Starting your own at-home business is scary. But what is even more scary is being at the mercy of your employer's successes and failures. You have very little control over the future of your own job when you are an employee. Even if you do the best you can, it's up to the people way at the top to steer the ship and care about all of the employees way down at the bottom of the totem pole.
That's a big reason why people start their own Etsy Shop or side-gig from home. Not only is being an employee for someone else's company mind-numbing and boring, it's also stressful and intimidating to think about how long you'll have a job at the company, even if you work really hard.
Working for large corporations is the worst experience ever
Back in 2008 when the economy was falling apart, one of my friends had a job at a rapidly-growing financial firm built on lending for residential homes. The company grew at a rapid pace from 2003 up until 2008. Then, when the economy fell apart, so did the business. A company that employed about 500 people filed for bankruptcy, fired all of their employees and likely walked away with millions in profits while 500 people went home with no job and no more income.
That's why I like to tell other people who are employees to screw the corporate job they work on and make a plan to quit your day job. Not all at once, but plan it methodically and carefully during nights and weekends.
I was fortunate enough to make the decision at 23 years old to start my own business from home doing web and graphic design. When I was 16 years old, I took a minimum-wage job at Old Navy in California and I hated it. I hated that I had to ask people to open credit cards they didn't need just so that the Gap Corporation could grow larger on the back of people's credit card debt. The best-performing employees would get 20+ stars on this silly board on the wall for every time they got someone to open an Old Navy Credit card. One other employee and I had 0 stars for never getting anyone to open a credit card. And frankly, I didn't care. I didn't want to be the person that encourage other people to go into debt to buy clothing they may not really need. That was my first experience with working in a corporation, and the beginning of my strong dislike for working with large, emotionless corporations.
You can make more money working for yourself & being the business owner
So on the side I learned how to do graphic design and website design on my own. In 2010, most companies were starting to realize they needed a website for their business in order to look legitimate. So while my friends from Architecture School work looking for near-minimum wage after getting a 5-year B.Arch degree, I was getting paid 2 or 3 times more owning my own company and working my own hours (usually about 12 hours a day - but from my bedroom). I didn't make a large corporation rich while working a low paying job. Instead, I got to determine what I believed in, and set my own hourly rates.
But not all families and individuals have that kind of freedom to just jump into starting their own business. Or maybe they can make it work, but the risk seems to high, especially if you have children or other people depending on you to make it all work.
Back in October of 2017, I thought I wanted to grow my web design business and start hiring more people. It seemed like a good thing to do: hire more people, find more projects, make more money, and have an impact on people's lives by giving them a job they might not have otherwise had. Especially here in Waco, Texas - the economy isn't really booming, especially not compared to Dallas or Austin. And there are thousands of jobs available, but even more still working minimum wage with no hope of moving up.
But I found that managing other people as employees was not as fulfilling as I had hoped. I get much more excited by the idea of other people starting their own business from home, instead of me just putting together everything for someone else and not have them pursue their own dreams.
So I am greatly concerned for other people, especially if you have a family and kids to support for those of you who cannot pay the bills or support a family being just an employee. There is so much opportunity for many people to start their own business from home, if only they knew how to go about it.
So if you are thinking about taking that step towards doing an at-home business, here are some principles to think about:
If you are young, with few responsibilities, jump into an at-home business immediately
If you are young, single or without children, get started now. There is no better time to pursue your dream of being your own boss than when you are young and have no children to support. I did it when I was 23 years old, and I wish I did it when I was 19 when I was thinking about it and just getting a few clients on the side. Now that I am 31, it scares me to think of how I would have started my own business being married, with 2 kids, 1 with severe disabilities, and a 3rd child on the way. So if you are young, single & without children, start your at-home business now while you can still sleep on the floor and eat rice and beans in your friend's apartment and live off of nothing in the mean time.
If you are married with kids, plan methodically and with intention beforehand
If you are not young, single and without children, there is a lot more pressure for you to keep a steady job and pay the bills. If you are married with kids, then your spouse must be on board, because starting a business means giving up free time. I recommend no more than 2 hours per day working on your own business, because if you work a 40 hour per week job, plus 10 to 14 hours on the nights and weekends, then that puts you at 50 to 54 hours of work each week. And studies show that overworking is actually detrimental to productivity. So make a clear standard that you will only work a maximum of 2 hours on the side for your at-home business idea.
Build a business based on something you already are good at
Start with something you love and are good at. I was 12 years old when I started learn web and graphic design, so when I got my first client at 19 I already had 7 years of experience. When I was 23 years old and officially went full time with my business, I had 11 years of experience. So I had the right technical skills already, so the main things I needed to learn were marketing, selling, accounting, dealing with clients, managing deadlines and so on. On your free time, you must learn how to run a business by reading books and practicing and building your business. But it's even harder to learn a new skill & learn how to start an at-home business, so think of a business you can start where you already have the technical knowledge.
Put together a plan on paper every single day
You must plan, and put things on paper and take things one step at a time. Ideas in your head get muddled up and confusing. So if you do not write things down one step at a time, your time will be wasted. You must put your ideas and plans down on paper each day so that your time is not wasted. I've been in business for 8 years now, and it's gone by way to fast. I worry that the next 8 years will fly by even faster, so if I am not effective with my time each day, I am going to lose a lot of opportunity that I will definitely regret. So get organize, make a plan, and learn each day on how to do things better.
Carefully consider your options & make a wise decision
My hope is that, if you are an employee for a corporation, this information will be at least a little helpful for you. I have a tendency to encourage everyone I meet to start their own business. I don't like managing employees, because I'd rather see people learn how to take their own initiative instead of tell them what to do or how to do their job properly. So if you are thinking of making that leap, just please consider to plan on it, think about it, and write things down for 1-2 hours during nights and weekends. Talk with your spouse, but don't get advice from friends or family that do not own their own business. Most won't be very positive. Instead, find some friends who do own their own small business so that they can encourage you and support you, instead of inhibit you.