I’ve spent a little less than half my career self employed and the other half working for companies, so I’d like to think I know something about the pros and cons of both types of work. In the last two companies I worked, I said at the end of my tenure that I’d never work for anyone again and would always be self employed. That didn’t work out for a number of reasons causing me to eat my words.
Being self employed sounds great as I didn’t have a boss, no reviews, I could work my own schedule, and no one was looking over my shoulder. That was only partly true; as a contractor I always had to work on someone else’s schedule and meet deadlines. In addition, I was sometimes the only person doing my type of work meaning I had to handle all the support, deal with all the issues, and sort of be on call all the time. Also any time I took off, I didn’t get paid for meaning that it could be very costly (depending on the contract I could get paid for some vacation, but I always felt guilty about taking time off). Being self employed also means sending out invoices, hoping you get paid on time, stressing over raising rates, and crossing your fingers that your contract isn’t terminated without notice.
One of the things that I missed when I was self employed last was working with other developers doing the same type of work, i.e. iOS or Mac development. This made it hard to learn new things as there was no one around to push me or show me better ways. No one was looking over my code and since I’m not perfect, I likely kept making the same mistakes over and over again.
This past April I started a new job and now work on a team with another 14 iOS developers. I pretty much learn something new everyday and know that I’m not alone when it comes to figuring out problems or tackling the work. Of course, I do my best at work, but it is much easier to leave work at the end of the day.
As much as being self employed sounded great, this change has been good to me and has lowered my stress. It has also given me opportunities to learn new skills and hone my existing ones.
Those words about never working for someone else sure tasted good!