Give Us 5 Minutes, We’ll Give You the Truth Behind Self-Employment

Self-Employment Myths

If you peeked behind the curtains of the average self-employed entrepreneur’s office windows, what would you see? A pajama-clad couch potato eating Fruit Loops and watching cartoons while pricing flights to Fiji, or a stressed-out dynamo simultaneously juggling three conference calls, answering emails, and trying to keep two toddlers and a dog quiet?

“Perceptions of the self-employed tend to go one of two ways,” says a recent survey by QuickBooks Self Employed. “Either you believe self-employed workers have the best job ever, with a flexible schedule that allows them to take time off whenever they want, or you think they’re total workaholics, taking their job on vacation or to the family dinner table.”

Self-Employment Myths

The reality, as the survey found, is somewhere in between. Let’s take a closer look at the truth about self-employment.

Myth: Self-employed people work longer hours than employees.

Reality: Some do—35% of self-employed individuals work longer hours than they did as employees. But some don’t—38% work less than they used to. And 27% of respondents work the same hours they used to.

Myth: Self-employed people work 24/7 and have no time for their families or friends.

Reality: Actually, survey respondents say having more time for themselves is one of the biggest benefits of being self-employed. Half say they have more personal time than they did as employees, and 55% have more family time. The majority also have more time for friends, vacations, and exercise.

Myth: Self-employed people spend the day watching TV, cleaning out the refrigerator or doing errands.

Reality: Self-employed people are pretty focused, but more than 34% of self-employed people say, “People often think I’m not working when I am.”

Myth: Self-employed people have a lot of freedom, but they don’t make as much money as people with jobs do.

Reality: The self-employed who work shorter hours than they did as employees, say they can work less because they’re earning more money per hour now.

Myth: Self-employed people can never take a day off work.

Reality: It’s complicated. First, 85% of survey respondents plan to take a vacation this year. However, the average self-employed worker took 7.5 vacation days per year, compared to the 11 days that’s typical for U.S. employees. In addition, 9% of self-employed workers haven’t taken a vacation since becoming self-employed; 14% haven’t had a vacation for five years or more.

Myth: Self-employment is a temporary solution for people who are in between jobs.

Reality: For most in the survey, self-employment is a long-term venture. Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents have been self-employed for more than two years; almost one-fourth have been self-employed for 10 years or more.

Myth: After getting a taste of self-employment, most people wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Reality: Not exactly. Although most self-employed workers love what they do, a whopping 70% would be willing to take a job given the right incentive. Specifically, 29% would do it for “the right job,” 22% would do it if it were better for their family, and 20% would do it to make more money. Just 30% said nothing could convince them to start working for someone else.

Like most things in life, self-employment isn’t all one thing or the other. It varies from person to person (and from day to day). If you’re self-employed, what do you think of this survey’s results?

Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.