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Self Employed

What does that expression mean? It is typically understood that to be sefl employed is to work in your own business, as opposed to working for someone else's business. What I want to suggest here, though, is that you start working for yourself even if you are working in someone else's business.

Stop Being an Employee

Look, I don't want to play a game of semantics here, and you will be called an employee when you are working for someone else. However, you don't have to think of yourself as an employee. You can think of yourself as self employed. Even if you are flipping burgers, you are in the business of selling your labor. Seeing things this way can change everything.

For many people, the concept of "employee" carries connotations of slavery, as in the expression "wage slave." At the very least it is usually associated with a loss of control, a sense that the "boss" is the one calling the shots. What an awful thought! There is a better way.

You're in Business Starting Today

I never could think of my employers the same way as others I worked with. They were afraid of them, and felt as though their life goals were somehow dependent on them. I basically felt I was in the business of selling my labor. If I didn't like the terms or price, I could negotiate or go elsewhere. In this country especially, there are opportunities everywhere.

What did this attitude mean? It meant I never felt trapped in a job I didn't like (and I didn't like most of them). When working as an assistant manager of a restaurant, I wanted time to start a little business, so I told my employer I would work Sundays only, as a shift manager. This is what I was willing to do, and if they didn't like it they could hire someone else. They said yes.

On the other hand, when working at a casino, my attitude of being in business for myself kept me from quitting a job I didn't care for. It paid well, and in any business you have to sometimes work for customers you don't like. Other employees, however, were very bitter. This employer didn't treat them well, and as a reservation casino they could get away with not paying minimum wage.

Now, this is tough to understand, because we made more than any of the five other casinos in the state. Thanks to the tips we received, we were paid well. Still, most of the workers felt that the employer wasn't doing what they were "supposed to do." As a self employed person, I could look at it objectively and see that they were paying more than other potential buyers of my labor. I didn't think they were a good customer otherwise, but I sure wasn't growing more bitter with time, as many were.

How to Be Self Employed

To have this approach, it helps to have money in the bank. As I said, "wage slavery" is only true to the extent that you've put yourself into that position. Always put a little money aside, keep out of bad debt (debt for business and investment is good debt) and keep your fixed expenditures low. Look, it only takes a few weeks to find another customer (job). If you ever feel that you can't quit your job tomorrow, you are probably not arranging your financial affairs properly.

Always thinking of yourself as in business, selling your labor, skills and knowledge, opens your mind to the possibilities of better jobs and even entrepreneurial activities. These are nice advantages of taking this perspective, but not the best reason to. The best reason is that you will feel free, and never feel dependent upon another. If you want to be, you are working for yourself.

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Self Employed