For years, I was a full-time lecturer. But in 2009, my online business took off and afforded me the opportunity to become self-employed. I no longer have a day job since then. At the time of writing, I have been self-employed for nine years! Wow, that’s quite a long time!

Here I’d like to share with you some insights that I have got from being self-employed. I hope you will find something useful that you can apply to your situation. Here they are.

1. Control is what I like the most.

What I like the most from my current work is the level of control I have. Instead of someone else telling me about what to do and when to do it, I can decide them on my own.

Don’t get it wrong: just because you work independently, it doesn’t mean that you have control. Many people who work independently have their clients as their bosses. Their clients are the ones who decide what to do and when to do it. But I have decided from the beginning that control is important and have designed my work accordingly.

For instance, I don’t take consulting jobs. I have a background in software development and people sometimes ask me to accept consulting jobs. But I never accept them. Why? Because they don’t match my work philosophy. With consulting jobs, the clients are in control. Instead, I develop and sell my own apps on the App Store. That way I’m the one who decides the what and when.

2. Never take things for granted.

Because I have had this kind of control for years, sometimes I take it for granted. There are times when I got tempted to do work where I don’t have control. But fortunately, I realized it before it’s too late.

Never take things for granted. You could become so accustomed to having something that you forget how not to have it.

3. Self-discipline is essential.

While having control is nice, the flip side is that self-discipline is essential. I don’t have a boss who tells me what to do, so it’s up to me to get things moving. If I didn’t discipline myself, I would get nothing done.

4. Money is just a means to something bigger.

I now make enough financially, but I could make more money if I did other kinds of work (such as consulting jobs). However, I have learned that money is just a means to something bigger; it’s not an end in itself.

For example, money could give you the freedom to use your time. But now I already have such freedom, so it doesn’t make much sense to pursue more money.

Never lose sight of what you truly want. Don’t get trapped with chasing the means instead.

5. Realize your talents.

I feel fulfilled at work because I can make the most of my talents there. For instance, I have a talent for writing, and I get to write articles like this one. I also have a talent for developing apps, and I create apps for the App Store.

Do you want to feel fulfilled at work? Realize your potential there.

6. Having a community is important.

A danger to many people who are self-employed is loneliness. They don’t have co-workers to chat with during the day. As a result, they could spend many days alone in their home office.

Fortunately, this is not a problem for me. I still teach part-time so I meet students and fellow lecturers. In fact, that’s one reason why I keep teaching: to meet people. I also have a community at church whom I meet often.

7. Comfort zone is a silent danger.

Because I don’t have external pushes, being in the comfort zone is a danger to me. Moreover, it’s a silent danger. Why? Because I don’t realize it while I’m in it! It’s different from say, financial difficulties which I could feel right away.

I only realize this danger when I looked back and saw that there were years where I accomplished almost nothing. It’s still a danger for me now; I’m still working on it.

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Those are the insights I got from being self-employed. As you can see, there are upsides and downsides. But fortunately, there are more upsides than downsides.

My kind of work is not everyone, but I hope you can get something useful from the insights above. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.