This post is meant to be a little serious and a little more humorous. If need help planning your escape from your current position I would check out the books The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller.
1. Take a look
Honestly, look around you. If you are at work, this is probably enough said. If you aren’t, then take a good look around when you get there. Do you really want to end up like that guy next to you? You know, the one who’s been there for 20 years? What about the woman who’s retiring next week? You mean, she actually worked there that long? What about the woman next to you, the one complaining about the project she’s working on. Are you just like her, or are you going to do something about it?
2. Ditch the employee handbook for good
Live without an oppressive regime employee handbook. As part of the employee’s training, we are taught what to wear, how to talk, sit, and so on. People aren’t allowed to think for themselves because that would ruin everything. God forbid Derek puts a plant on his desk when it’s against policy. Your job probably has some stupid little rules for you to follow. Well, if you are your own boss, you can wear what you want, do what you want and say what you want without asking permission first.
3. Get paid for your value not your time
Get paid what you are worth, not what someone says you are worth. At your job, you are probably trading time for money instead of value for money. In the auto repair industry, workers are paid X number of dollars per repair. It doesn’t matter to the manager if it only takes 5 minutes to complete the job. It is possible to provide a great value to a customer while only spending a couple of minutes doing so. In the end, the customer is happy, and you are paid for the value you provided, not the time spent providing it. Think about what kind of value you have to offer. You’d be surprised what people will pay for that value.
4. Quit gambling
Many people believe having a job is the safest way to earn an income. This is wrong. How is it safer to place your life and your family members’ lives in the hands of those who treat you like a number on a spreadsheet? Do you really think your employer has your best interest at heart? The people who make decisions at the top of the company have one thing in mind, to preserve the interests of their investors and shareholders. Placing your trust and life in the hands of someone else is the exact opposite of safe. It is foolish. You can’t have security when you don’t have control, and employees have the least amount of control. Limit your job title to entrepreneur, not professional gambler.
5. Go ahead, give yourself a raise
When it’s finally time for a raise and your review is around the corner, how do you act? Do you start to sit and perform tricks to make your master happy? Do you beg for more money? Does it feel good to be thrown some doggie treats now and then? Or would you rather feel free to decide what you make without anybody’s permission? The money you earn through your business is proportional to the value you provide. Up your value, and you will begin to earn more. It’s your time and energy, so you decide how much you are willing to give.
6. Travel the world
When you are working for yourself and you feel like traveling, you can. If the destination of your travels includes a conference or meeting, then your business gets to foot the bill (the business part at least). Get out and get some fresh air. Stop dreaming about a vacation and actually do it. You will be happier, in control and out living life while making money. What could be better than that?
7. Be your own boss
When you enter the entrepreneur’s world and cross paths with an idiot, you can walk away. In the corporate world, that idiot is often your boss. Well, how about being your own boss? That way you make up your own rules. You won’t have to live by an employee handbook anymore. Do you want to take a 2-hour lunch to break up your day? What’s stopping you? Besides, for once you can now take credit for everything and know that someone else isn’t going to steal your glory. You make the decisions, and you get the benefits.
8. Feed yourself first
When owning your own business, you decide where the money goes. Chances are good the company you currently work for pays twice the amount of your take-home pay for the privilege of you working for them. All that extra cash your company pays that should rightfully be yours is siphoned off the top to 401(k)s, insurances, investors, share holders, Social Security and state and federal taxes. By the time you actually receive your paycheck, you are only paid for half the value you provide to your company. John Chow recently did a series on taxes and blogging. Here.
9. Work your own hours
If you aren’t a morning person, why are you waking up at 6:30 a.m. to get to work by 8:00 a.m.? I bet you really suffer through the first half of the day. Some people’s bodies naturally function at a different time of day than “normal” business hours. I say work when you are the most productive. When you fizzle out, find something else to do until you’re back on your “A” game again. This also comes in handy when you have kids and practices. Maybe the best part about being self employed is the amount of time you will have to spend with your family and friends. Your cat will be happier, too.
10. More Vacations
By working for yourself, you have the control of planning your own time off. More vacations sound great to anyone, but as a caution, they are only feasible if everything is in place for you to do so. I took a couple days off last week in order to take care of some personal matters. In the time I was gone, I made more money and had more visitors to my site than when I am normally here. Unfortunately, I don’t think that trend would last if I continued it, but I had the flexibility to take the trip. When your bases are covered and you want to get away, go ahead and do it. Have you used up all of your vacation days already?