Author Topic: Your Self-Employment Stories  (Read 2519 times)


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1079
Your Self-Employment Stories
« on: January 25, 2014, 04:39:36 PM »
Are you or have you ever been self-employed?  I know we have a lot of great side gig threads already, so I guess I'm asking more about full-time stories, though I love them all.  What do you or did you do for your business/services?  How did you get started?  What was your training?  Did you kind of fall into it or did you plan for it?  How did you decide that's what you wanted to do?  Are you still doing it, or did you get out of it, and why?  And so on!!  :)


  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6095
Re: Your Self-Employment Stories
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 05:27:43 PM »
Personally I started a  business doing my profession for myself instead of for the state. I only work p.t. but also have a small pension to fall back on. In addition, I looked for other professional work that I was qualified for but had never done before (teaching at the college level-one course per semester).  I planned for it because I knew once I took early retirement I would be bored if not working at all, was not sick of my profession and wanted more $. I put the word out professionally, did marketing, had business cards made, etc.  I have 2 master degrees and a PhD  in 3 different areas so I am lucky that I have many areas in which I am qualified to work.  I could work more but do not want to. I now average between 10-15 hours/week.  I have some friends that took the training to be life coaches and after about 5 years of building their business etc both now make a full time living doing this from home or anywhere. They just need a phone & coach clients all over the world.   


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 16
Re: Your Self-Employment Stories
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2014, 05:33:09 PM »
I got my own little company. For me, I started it mainly because I was recovering from long term illness and was unfit to have a regular job with regular hours. The company enabled me (and still enables me) to work odd hours, so I can have one hour of work then two hours of rest or take a whole day off if Im feeling particularly spent.

My education is mainly in philosophy and economics, and I have an unfinished masters degree in computer game design. While some of that is useful, I also have 4 years of experience working with internal communications and management for a big bank, having been part of some pretty big projects. It is the internal communications and project management part that I currently offer through my company, but as the jobs are all different, I would say that I have a solid foundation but that I have needed to learn all manners of new skills along the way. It really helps that I have done some computer game projects where I was the game designer, as those were brutal both in terms of resources, people and creative challenges.

I especially enjoy working with large companies that base their internal communications on a Microsoft Sharepoint platform, as that is my pet peeve. And their processes are often a mix of very old bureaucratic analogue processes, making them easy to optimise.

I started out very slow, helping a friend with a booking system making 10 dollars an hour, and after half a year I started the company. Currently Im at a respectable 100 dollars an hour. I would say that I stumbled into self employment, and while I really enjoy what Im doing, it is not something I dreamed of or planned it just sort of happened.


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1520
    • The Earth Awaits
Re: Your Self-Employment Stories
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2014, 05:52:26 PM »
I am self employed, doing software development/IT consulting.  I had been consulting as a side gig to increase my savings rate for a number of years, and had hit the point where my side work was effectively a full time income covering at least my basic costs of living.  At that point, the company I had been with for seven years suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly went out of business over the timeframe of just a couple of weeks.  It was my consulting work that kept food on the table and the bills paid.

At that point, I spent almost seven months looking for other work "for the man," with surprisingly little success given my skills which are pretty in demand.  Offers came in, but they were either insultingly low or otherwise had serious limitations (commute, etc) attached to them.  It finally dawned on me that I wasn't having nearly as much of a hard time finding consulting work and that, even though it required a little hustle to keep contracts coming in, I could pay myself the benefits that really mattered to me (401k match, health insurance), deduct those expenses, and still bank more than when I was working for a company as a full time employee.  On top of that, the Individual 401(k) allows a sole proprietor to be the employer and the employee in his own plan, and bank up to $52K pre-tax per year!  This alone makes self employment the ultimate vehicle for early retirement in my opinion.  If you can max the whole amount in a Solo 401(k) (oh, and your spouse can partake and you can put away *104K* combined per year, ka-ching!), you can hit FIRE in a fraction of the years you might when working for someone else.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows-- you have to be very mindful of the way your treat your colleagues in a way that you don't have to be in full time employment-- you learn to think of them as your customers instead of your co-workers, and excellent customer service is essential.  It can be feast or famine when finding work, and it took me about 6 months of solid beating my drum before my second long term contract materialized.

Another advantage is that as soon as we could afford it, my SO and I could pack up and move anywhere, as all of my customers accept 100% telecommute from anywhere.  Right now I make California money with California costs... but we're going to do something about that ASAP.

So... yeah, if you're in an in-demand field with high earning potential, I strongly suggest trying to build a customer base and considering self employment.

Edit: Another big benefit that doesn't have a dollar value is that my stress level is at an all time low.  I get to get up on most days, make my breakfast, sit in my office with my dogs, and spend time with my favorite animals in my own home.  I'm working... but I'm always comfortable.  I work out all the time, make my own hours, and otherwise control my own destiny, so I feel like I'm already getting a huge benefit that many aspire to get only after RE.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 06:06:33 PM by iamlindoro »