Self-unemployed — an interesting concept

While listening to NPR yesterday, I heard a discussion about people who have left primary employment, either by choice or by force, and are looking for their next gig.  One guy described himself as “self-unemployed.”   That struck a chord with me.

I hang out with a lot of business owners, and we love talking about being “self-employed.”  We take great pride in the fact that we started and built something, that we “control our own destiny,” and that we are self-made.  Yet, as I think about our verbiage when things aren’t going so well, I notice that we often deflect (me included).  We’ll talk about the economy being down, clients cutting back, business being “off.”  But, if we’re really serious about our love of independence, perhaps we should think more about this idea of being “self-unemployed” when we’re not as busy as we’d like to be.

Sure, there are things outside our control that affect us and our companies.  But, we have likely all experienced the idea that “activity breeds activity.”  If we do the things we know we should to build our businesses and keep them strong, we get a better result.  If business is down, we have to look first at ourselves.  Are we doing everything we should be?  Are we looking for new ways to market and grow our businesses?  Are we watching our clients to see what they most need?  Or are we sometimes content to point externally — “it’s just the economy.”

Being self-employed is a 24/7 occupation, and that can sometimes be tiring.  I think it’s okay to occasionally say, “I’m not going to push things right now.”  That statement indicates that we take ownership of the choice.  We need to take breaks now and then, and we know that doing so will have consequences.  As long as we face that head on, and don’t deflect it on someone or something else, that’s okay–sometimes even healthy.

I, personally, LOVE being self-employed.  It gives me the freedom and responsibility for myself.  So, from now on, when things aren’t as robust as I’d like for them to be, I’m going to ask myself, “Am I self-unemployed????”  Then, I’ll likely get up and do something.

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2 Comments on “Self-unemployed — an interesting concept”


  1. Yes, this quite an interesting concept! And since most of us who are “self-employed” actually just created specific jobs/roles we love doing, we ARE totally responsible for our results. This sounds like an excellent question to ask – often!

  2. Alex Gordon Says:

    I use this phrase often when talking with business owners who ask me “who wouldn’t want more clients?!” Then I tell them “well, a lot of business owners I talk to are what I call “self-unemployed”.


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