Sunday, June 10, 2007

Becoming Self-Sufficient

At Life Reboot Shaun wrote about The Dangers of Working for a Living. He has some excellent points to make. Mainly, that if you work for someone else you are never as "safe" as you think you are. Your position could be eliminated, the company may downsize, or the company may be bought out and they decide to bring in a new team. Whatever the possibilities are, no matter how much seniority you have or how hard of a worker you are, you are expendable and replaceable.

However, I think Shaun often forgets that not everyone - in fact I would have to say most people - is in a position to give up the 9 - 5 at the drop of a hat and start working from home. I can only assume that he either had a nice little savings set aside before he did this or has a very supportive girlfriend. The rest of us have responsibilities, homes, children, and other things in our life that require a certain amount of income to be coming in no matter how happy or "safe" we are.

If you have these things or others to consider it doesn't mean you should give up on the idea of becoming self-sufficient though. If you have a dream, follow it.

Some of the things you should do before you put in your resignation are:

  • Do some research on the type of job you want to do from home. Is it writing? Affiliate sales? Selling something you make? Interior design? Whatever it is you need to find out how to get your business started, how much money you can make, what tools you might need to purchase, and many other things. Find people online who are successful at what they do and make contact with them. There are literally thousands of people (likely more like hundreds of thousands) who are making a living from home and most of them have an online presence. Contact them through their web page, tell them you are interested in talking with them, and ask them a few questions. Most people are happy to talk with others that are interested in their work and many of them will be flattered you asked.
  • Start putting money aside. Yes, this is a must. You can't walk into a work from home job with no money set aside to cover your behind should you have a few stumbling blocks along the way (because you will).
  • How much to set aside? That depends on you and your family's needs. Figure out a budget. What do you need to get by? And do take into consideration those things that aren't necessarily "needs" but make your life livable. If you have children and you suddenly tell them that they won't be able to eat at McDonalds for the next year because mommy or daddy wants to pursue their dream they likely won't be understanding. So cut down, but don't eliminate the things that give your family pleasure. Once you have a number that you think is fairly reasonable, multiply that by three or four. You should have at least three to four months expenses set aside.
  • Start building a client list. Start with smaller jobs. You may have to work for less than you expected at first but these jobs can be good backup in the future. Although they may not pay as much, if you develop solid working relationships with these clients they will always be there. Don't neglect them once you move on to bigger clients. Keep them happy.
  • Start a web site with your information. You can find some very low-cost hosting programs that are easy to use and will give you what you need. I use HostGator and have been using them for over a year and I'm very happy with them. I have two websites hosted on one account for only $9.99 a month.
  • Think about how you are going to get your name out there. If you are internet based, learn about promoting yourself, how and where to do it, what sites bring back good hits, etc. Once agian, talking to someone (or many someones) in your field is invaluable.

This is really only the beginning. But these are all things that you should do before quitting your job. Quitting a job isn't as easy as some think it might be because we all have different circumstances. For instance, I have a reasonably good job that pays very well. I grew up poor with very little extra money for fun things and for me to have this job is what I used to think was my dream. I can buy my kids things they want, I can go out, I can enroll the kids in extracurricular activities. My parents couldn't do that. Quitting that job means giving up things like health benefits, insurance, a regular income. If I give that up there better be a fairly sure thing on the other side.

So, while Shaun may be ok with the fact that for now he is only bringing in somewhere from ten cents to ten dollars a day, most of us can't live with that. Not won't but can't. But we can plan for the future and we can work towards a goal of becoming self-sufficient. If that is your goal go for it.

On the other hand, not everyone wants the pressure of working form home. If Shaun thinks it's "safe" - well, I just hope he's not one of the many who finds out that it isn't. As far as money security goes, there's no such thing. Everything you have, every income you have, can all be gone in the blink of an eye. Safety is relative so do what makes you feel best. Work at home or work for an employer. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

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