People sometimes tell me they’re
thinking about going into business for themselves, and ask if I
think they should.
My answer is
"ABSOLUTELY NOT. YOU SHOULD
NEVER BE SELF EMPLOYED”
In his Hierarchy of Human Needs, Dr. Abraham Maslow identified security as the second greatest need of
Self employed people are abnormal,
because security isn't a priority for them.
They’re like degenerate gamblers who’ll risk their health,
finances, and relationships to feed an addiction
These self employed gamblers
("SEGs") ignore the fact that 90% of small businesses fail, and
are arrogant enough to think they'll be the 1 in 10 that succeed.
Going for Broke
Contrary to what most people
think, most SEGs don't make more than their counterparts.
CareerBuilder.com reported that
self employed workers in the U.S. make an average $26,921.
That's less than half the $56,053 annual average of the total
rather go broke working for
than make a fortune working for someone else.
A Pew Research report found that 40% of the self employed said
their family either falls short of meeting their basic living
expenses or are barely getting by.
Risking It All
to Keep Playing the Game
When times are good, SEGs will plow every dime they make back into the business, hoping
the big payday is just around the corner.
When times are bad, they'll take cash advances off their
credit cards to make payroll.
And it's not limited to mom and
I know of a SEG named Fred who once flew to Las
Vegas to gamble his company's last $5,000 on a blackjack table
in hopes of winning enough to pay a large fuel bill.
The Power of the
I understand how strong the
addiction can be, because I've been a SEG for over a quarter of
a century. When I was 24, I bought a spinoff of a small
Nashville based publishing company. Within months, I
expanded into Memphis but was drowning in debt. To stay afloat,
I sold a 50% stake to a venture capitalist and
later expanded into Knoxville, Chattanooga, Birmingham, and
I was stretched so thin that we almost bought a Piper Cherokee
so I could fly from city to city to manage our employees and see
customers. Eventually I sobered up enough to focus on the
results (bottom line) instead of the size of the organization.
But I came close to losing everything, including my home,
because my risk tolerance level was so high that it was
So why would anyone become a SEG, short of insanity?
Because studies have shown that while most SEGs make less, work more hours,
experience more stress, they have higher job satisfaction and
SEGs value opportunity over
security, and prize the autonomy and
freedom that comes from being self employed.
So why do I tell people to never become self employed? Because
SEGs don't care what others think - they just do it.
If you prefer the security of a
steady paycheck and fringe benefits like health insurance and
paid vacation days, congratulations. You're normal.
But if you're thinking about
becoming self employed and what I just told you hasn't
discouraged you, you're in for a
long, hard road.
It will, however, be the most fulfilling ride
you've ever taken.
Small business owners are my
heroes because they believe in rugged individualism and self
reliance. And because they create the majority of all new jobs.
And because nearly every big corporation began as a small
To Your Success,
Glenn Shepard, a Proud 26 Year
P.S. You may have heard of the SEG who played blackjack to keep his business afloat in the early days. He's Fred
Smith, and his company is FedEx.
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