Sometimes, as I scramble to meet a deadline or wish that I could just get rid of that one troublesome client, I take a step back and consider: Who’s really the boss, here? Sure, I like that I’ve made a career for myself, working from home. Indeed, many would say that I’ve been blessed. And I am blessed. For the most part, I choose my clients and my schedule, and I like what I do. But, as with all things in life, there is a dark side to being self-employed. Sometimes, that dark side is that I’m not my own boss as much as I’d like to be.

The Client is My Boss

A lot of the time, the client is my boss. Happily, most of my clients are fabulous people: Flexible, understanding, and accommodating. However, when there’s a firm deadline, there’s a firm deadline. When work needs to be done, it has to be done. I have some clients that rely on me to write something every week day. In such cases, I have to make sure that happens, no matter what else is going on. (Thank heaven for the ability to schedule posts in many cases, so I don’t have to be physical here for a post to go live.)

Even for those who don’t have a job like mine, but who are still self-employed, the client is often the boss. When you make a craft for someone else, or provide some other service, it’s a lot like having a boss. The upside, though, is that you can often find a new client easier than you can find a new boss. And, if you have proper income diversity, you don’t have to worry as much about job loss.

My Own Needs Are My Bosses

Sometimes, I feel like my work is more controlled by circumstance than myself. Am I really my own boss if I can’t just walk away from those one or two clients that are hard to work with? I’ve been the primary breadwinner for the entirety of my marriage, and there are times when I have had to accept a job because we needed to pay rent that month, or buy groceries. I feel lucky to be mostly beyond that point, and am excited that my husband has finished his Ph.D. and will be teaching at a university when the new school year starts. But that doesn’t change the fact that, in the past, I have felt less like my own boss and more like an employee of circumstance.

In the end, I mostly think of myself as self-employed, since I run my own freelance home business. I know that some disagree with the idea that I am self-employed, since it seems that it’s more like I have a large number of bosses (my clients). However, my schedule is fairly flexible, and I can turn away clients if I want to. Most of the time I set my own rates, and even get paid what I ask for. While there will always be small frustrations with just about anything, the truth is that I am lucky, and I usually feel a great deal of freedom in what I do.

What about you? If you are self employed, do you sometimes feel like you aren’t your own boss all the time?



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.