Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pros and Cons of Self-Employment

On the occasion of our launch of the Self-Employment Key, I thought I might reminisce about my 5 years as a self-employed lawyer, how the Self-Employment Key could have helped - and the pros and cons of self-employment I experienced.

For me, my own practice was both a fantastic escape and scary jump out of a plane, feelings I'm sure others can sympathize with. I wish that at the time I left my first law firm job to go solo, that I could have taken something like the Self-Employment Key. I would have had more confidence about my decision. I would have known how compatible my personality was with law practice as a self-employed career and I would have known my scores for two personality dimensions, Openness to Experience and Conscientiousness, linked to successful self-employment. Perhaps I could have avoided some errors by knowing earlier how to compensate for my weak areas and concentrate on my strengths. But after several years, I did get along just fine and this is what I found:

  • More flexibility in work hours (being my own boss)
  • Sole responsibility for generating revenue
  • More control over client selection
  • Better retirement investment options
  • Sole responsibility for generating revenue and getting clients
  • Doing boring administrative tasks

Smartest things I did in running my own small business
  • Hired an excellent accountant
  • Networked with other solo practitioners of different fields
  • Used credit cards wisely
  • Did contract work to supplement other income
  • Got healthcare and malpractice insurance coverage through my local bar association
  • Found good mentors, both from my previous job and other solo practitioners

Having my own practice allowed me to do things like travel to an international women's lawyers' conference in London, and sit 50 feet away from Kofi Annan as a delegate at the UN International Labour Organization's World Employment Forum in Geneva. While I made less money than I could have, I enjoyed the flip side of worrying about where your paycheck will come from - the freedom.

What's your idea of freedom in a career? How would starting your own business accomplish that?

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