Real Talk About Self-Employment

woman with laptopFor many women, self-employment offers an incredibly attractive career path. You get to work for yourself and build the kind of life you want on your own terms.

When women pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, they don’t just get by—they thrive.

Women own more than 11.6 million firms in the United States, generating $1.7 trillion in sales in 2017, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners, and one in five businesses with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.

At home, women business owners with children make their families a priority. Nearly three-quarters of mom entrepreneurs remain their family’s primary childcare provider, according to 99designs, and 69% say flexibility is why they opted for self-employment.

At first glance, it seems that women entrepreneurs and business owners get to have the best of both worlds.

However, self-employment isn’t rosy all the time. When you work for yourself, you must be prepared to overcome challenges and make sacrifices.

In a recent study conducted by QuickBooks Self-Employed, QuickBooks surveyed 500 self-employed individuals to discover how their work impacts their personal lives. The findings reveal that while entrepreneurs enjoy enviable perks, they also experience unpleasant realities.

Here’s what it’s really like running your own business.

You’ll Work on Weekends

Entrepreneurs often work on Saturday and Sunday. According to the QuickBooks Self-Employed study, 61.2% of self-employed individuals work every weekend or every other weekend.

The younger the business owners, the more they work on the weekends. Nearly half (43%) of 18-24-year-olds say they work every weekend, which is 4% higher than self-employed individuals age 45-54.

While women business owners are drawn to the flexibility of self-employment, the work still must get done. If women take an afternoon off for a child’s school event, they’ll likely make up that time on the weekend. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you.

You Might Miss Some Important Stuff

When you’re your own boss, you create your own schedule. For many entrepreneurs, this means missing out on family or social occasions due to work commitments.

About half (49.7%) of self-employed individuals have had to miss a friend’s birthday, while 38% have missed their significant other’s birthday because of work. More than one-third (37%) have even missed a child’s birthday.

QuickBooks research reveals that as self-employed individuals get older, they’re more likely to regularly miss family or social events. Among people 45-54, 26% say they miss weekly social occasions in favor of spending more time on their business.

Sickness Won’t Stop You from Working

When you work for yourself, you don’t get the luxury of taking sick days. More than three-quarters (81%) of self-employed individuals rarely to never take time off for illness.

Mom entrepreneurs have the added responsibility of caring for their sick children.

Women are 10 times more likely than men to take time off work to care for sick kids, according to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation. Moms are also five times more likely to take their kids to a doctor’s appointment when they’re sick.

While you or your family members might fall ill from time to time, don’t expect to enjoy any downtime to recover.

Work Will Keep You Up at Night

Small business owners often stress about work—even to the point of losing sleep sometimes. Almost a quarter (23%) of self-employed individuals report that work keeps them up at night several times a week.

Self-employed individuals age 45 and older worry the most about cash flow. Half of individuals age 45-54 say cash flow is their biggest concern, with uncertainty about the future listed as their next biggest worry.

Entrepreneurs worry about all kinds of things: paying the bills, securing new customers, filling open positions. If you’re sacrificing sleep due to all the worry, try taking a smarter approach to getting shut-eye. As a business owner, you have the flexibility to choose when you sleep, so learn how to make sleep work for you.

Be Mindful About Challenges and Forge Ahead

Women entrepreneurs might not often talk about the unappealing side of self-employment, such as feeling lonely or struggling to make ends meet, but those challenges still exist. Nearly half (46%) of business owners struggle with cash flow and 30% worry about getting paid on time.

Running your own business comes with many hurdles but also many joys. To build your best business and the kind of life you dream of, consider the challenges you face as an entrepreneur and take steps to overcome those issues.

There’s a world of women-led companies you can learn from, so join a professional organization, partner with other female-owned businesses or seek a mentor for advice. Amazing things can happen when you commit to succeeding in the face of any obstacle.

Picture credit:

unsplash-logoMimi Thian

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