Everyone Is Self Employed

I often hear people talk about two ways to work: either for yourself (yay! freedom!) or for someone else (yay! security!). The problem is, this sets up a false dichotomy, that either your job and livelihood is driven by you, or that your job and livelihood are driven by someone else. The truth of the matter is - there aren’t two camps. Everyone works for themselves, you either just have one exclusive client, or many different clients. That’s the only difference.

Why does this matter? It matters because it’s about mindset. As soon as you think that you actually work for yourself, that even if you’re fulltime, you’ve simply chosen one client to exclusively work for for awhile, everything changes. You now have the leverage. You’re in control of your own professional life, not someone else that you call “boss”. Don’t like the job? No worries, just go find another client. Want more than one? End your exclusive agreement, and get a couple more. When you’re interviewing, this gives you a much different voice at the table - instead of hoping that someone will hire you, you’re interviewing each other, ensuring that both of you want to work together.

When it comes time for an annual review, this is the time that you (the contractor) and your company (the client) get to evaluate the relationship, and renegotiate your terms. If they want to keep using you as their talent, perhaps they need to pay more. When you approach a fulltime gig as if you’re actually self-employed with a single, exclusive client, the tables get leveled much more quickly. You’ll start to think about how you market yourself, how you sell yourself, and what terms you’re willing to engage under. All these things lead to better and better “client” engagements moving forward.

The big mistake that people make is assuming that you can either work for someone, or work for yourself. At the end of the day, your work is yours, and you’re simply chosing who you get to lend your talents to for the current span of time. Start thinking this way - and believing it - and it’ll change how you look at everything.

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