10 Misconceptions the Self-Employed Deal With Daily

Working from home has many, many advantages. Comfy environments, no commute, to name a few. However, working from home also comes with just as many disadvantages. It’s easy to become distracted, the pay is never guaranteed, and it can get quite lonely. However, one of the worst parts about being a home worker for me are all the stereotypes that follow people who work at home. Here are few that I run into all the time.

1. You’re ALWAYS open for business.

It seems that once people learn that my “office” is in my house, that I can answer work-related calls, IM’s and emails whenever is convenient for them. I’ve managed to curb this pretty well by using away status messages and not picking up the phone after 5pm, but it’s still annoying.

Home workers need to have standards like everyone else. You don’t work 16-hour days. Why should we?

2. “You’re at home. How can you be working?”

To this day I still have to answer this question. You’d think with the Internet establishing itself as, well, a huge business opportunity, people would catch on that you don’t have to drive to an office to actually work. We can turn on computers at our house or a coffee shop just as easily as we could in a cubicle, thankyouverymuch!

3. You take too many breaks.

Never. Ever. Will I take too many breaks in a given working day. I’ve found (time and again) that taking breaks is a boon for productivity. It’s at the heart and soul of my productivity plan, and I will always center my day around them.

Breaks keep me sharp, energized, and most importantly, sane.

4. You don’t NEED decent office equipment.

Sure, I can work on a couch just as easily as a nicer desk. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have that flexibility. However, the home worker should never skimp on office equipment. You need to have a place that you can call your own work place that isn’t a part of the living room seating. It’s a psychological edge more than anything. Having a place that is associated with working/thinking allows you to enter the zone much quicker.

5. You never have to leave your home.

Leaving your house is incredibly important to the home worker. It’s easy to get used to the work environment of your home, and your productivity will lag. Or you’ll get sidetracked easier. At your house, there are way to many things that could easily distract you. For me, that would any of the seasons of The Office. Or my guitar. Or other household chores.

If you’re really wanting to buckle down on a project, leave the house and go to a coffee shop. Moving to a different environment keeps you focused on the task at hand, and quickly removes all of those temptations.

6. You can work whenever you want.

It’s no surprise that for most people, the most productive times of the day are in the morning. This is when the rest of the world works. That means that it’s even harder to work when the rest of the world isn’t working.

7. You’re rich.

Maybe this is just my own experience, but it seems that when I tell people that I’m my own boss, I must be making bank. Completely untrue. Although I think I do pretty well, I’m not by any standard wealthy. I pay my bills, and that’s about it.

8. You work in pajamas, don’t brush your teeth, and never see the sun.

Oh, and we only eat delivered foods, shower bi-weekly, and have no “real” friends. Just because we work at home doesn’t mean we aren’t humans, people! I make it a point to take a shower, go for a run, eat a great breakfast and read every day before I start work. Also, all bragging aside, I lead a decent social life with many friends outside of the online world.

If you do find yourself living an unhealthy lifestyle without physical friends and decent habits, start working on them. You’re missing out on one of the greatest aspects of being a home worker. You have more freedom to do the things you love apart from work, making it much easier to lead a social life.

9. You only work 45 minutes a day, and the rest of the time is spent playing video games.

Yup. As soon as I tell people I work from home, they automatically think I’m a slacker. In reality, I usually put in a fairly productive 6-8 hour day. I am constantly learning, and I hardly ever feel like I would work less than someone in a cubicle. Actually, I’d guess home workers are more productive because they have more motivation than a cubicle slave.

The traditional office worker is guaranteed a paycheck, even if he doesn’t work as hard as she could. The home worker has much more pressure and motivation because her paycheck is not guaranteed. If she doesn’t perform, rent isn’t paid. Plain and simple.

10. You know everything about computers.

Anyone else out there like me who doesn’t know squat about the workings of a computer? I have a passing, if not barely passing knowledge of computers. I know a decent amount about software. Yet people always assume that because I work on the “Internets” all day long, I can fix their computer. Or configure their home network. Or some other computer hardware problem.

It must be a lot like the assumption that if you own a truck, you’d love to help everybody move.

So carry on, self-employed warrior. Wear these misconceptions as a badge. Some day the world will understand that we work just as hard, if not harder, than every one of those office-bound serfs.

Some day.

Leave a Comment

{ 38 comments… add one }
  • leonatyummygum July 17, 2009, 10:10 am

    Haha, just too familiar!

  • leonatyummygum July 17, 2009, 6:10 am

    Haha, just too familiar!

  • grundie May 18, 2008, 6:23 pm

    Yep, I get similar comments. People assume I'm either loaded, or playing games all day. Or worse, if you know what I mean.

  • melek May 14, 2008, 9:14 am

    my entire family thinks i'm some sort of computer expert. i mean, sure, i can install software and the random stick of memory, but i can't fix your PC…i work on a MAC for Pete's sake! :)

    the 'working 24/7' thing got old quick when i started working from home. now i dont answer the phone after 5:30 or on weekends (if i see it's a client…i'll answer for friends/family). and i try very hard to keep the computer off all day Saturday.

    I've made it a point to make friends with other 'work-from-homers' in my condo complex. we meet with our dogs at the dogpark every day at 3:30. it's a great break, a chance to socialize, and it's right next to my condo, so it doesn't entail any driving.

    as for working at other places like coffee shops, i can't get into doing that. i get totally distracted with people watching. i think being a total homebody like i am, working from home is perfect for me. i dont need to leave, and i dont generally want to :)

  • seminar guy May 13, 2008, 9:16 pm

    Great post. You captured pretty much everything I have to deal with on pretty much a daily basis.

    The toughest part for me about working from home is motivating myself to get going because there are, as you alluded to, many distractions to keep me from this. I went to a Harv Eker seminar a while back that really helped me with this and it's a different story now.

    Still, there are times where a little extra inspiration could help, but hey, is that so different from being what you call a “cubicle slave”?

  • Martin May 13, 2008, 11:05 am

    great article, and very true, especially about not taking too many breaks. i find once you get the ball rolling go with it, its a lot harder to restart something after you have stopped.

  • Jess May 13, 2008, 7:54 am

    Haha, you've made me want to work from home more than ever. I've still got a few more years to go until I need to make that decision but thanks for the inspiration! :)

  • Michael Yurechko May 13, 2008, 5:32 am

    My personal favourite is: “that's easy, I could do that”

    A lot of the time, yes, that person may be capable. But even more of the time, I can tell that person would not succeed. Making money by working online is not easy, and its been said time and time again that 99%+ of people who try to work online will fail.

    From your post I really enjoyed 'You work in pajamas, don't brush your teeth, and never see the sun”

    I have to be honest, there are days where I'm like this, but most of the time I am not. The reason I may do this more than others is because I'm working online part time – as I still have school to attend. So there will always be a 'lazy Sunday' or some other time in there.

    Anyways, loved the post. Definitely subscribed! *will only read AFTER I get my work done* ;)

  • vimoh May 13, 2008, 4:04 am

    Totally relate!

    Just because you have the liberty to have fun at work (listen to music, be online occasionally) people assume you could not possibly be doing anything worth doing.

  • Maura May 8, 2008, 11:53 pm

    Along the lines of misconception #2 is “Since your at home, then you must not be working too hard. So you can take care of my dog, my kid, or entertain me on the phone for hours…”

    I've had to set firm boundaries with family and friends regarding my work hours, etc.

  • Trent Hamm May 8, 2008, 12:00 pm

    Breaks are an absolute necessity for creative work. I can go crazy creatively for a half an hour, then go dry for an hour. If I know I'm going dry, why not go do something else completely unrelated?

  • Sasa May 8, 2008, 6:50 am

    So true! As a freelance writer my number one gripe is that friends think I am a slacker and I don't do anything all day. Yeah right! Three deadlines this week and counting…

  • Andre May 8, 2008, 6:03 am

    Man, a lot of these really hit home. I only started doing freelance writing recently (as well as starting a themed blog), and I've already been getting flak for being a “work-from-home guy”. A relative I know even guffawed when I said I was a freelance writer when I was asked what I did for a living. And they expect to have unfettered access to you whenever you're at home, too. Tch.

    As for getting out of the house, I do it on a daily basis to clear my head and prepare myself for my writing process.

  • Farfield May 8, 2008, 5:30 am

    I used to work at home. I had a separate room for it, but still I couldn't focus. I did it for a few years but I have a rather small apartement, so I couldn't avoid getting distracted by simple household things like laundry, dishes etc.
    Now I have a place to work I can focus much better. I could imagine though that when having a bigger house, working at home would still be a possibility.

  • Metroknow May 8, 2008, 3:06 am

    In my situation I work remotely for my employer, while maintaining a cube space 1000 miles away. The upside is I'm home with my family, I don't have to commute anywhere, and I manage my own time based on the needs of the job. The downside is when I'm on a call giving a presentation to a conference via LiveMeeting and my 3-year-old decides to bang on my door until I come and get him some juice. . .

    The other (more serious) downside is it is too easy to work all the time – my work is all project based, so you get that feeling that if you “just work tonight, I can take it easier Friday afternoon” which is all to easy to do when your office is next to your bedroom. The self discipline to put work down has been my biggest challenge.

  • John E. May 7, 2008, 2:56 pm

    I totally agree about your comments on office equipment and being 'always open'. I highly recommend Herman Miller seating. I've had my Herman Miller Reaction Chair for 6 years and counting.

    As far as the 'Always Open', I agree as well. But for me I don't mind working 16 hour days. Because then I'm paid for 16 hours (subtracting overhead – bookkeeping, etc.) I'm sure for many people that doesn't work, but for me thats what drives me. In a cubicle I'm paid the same amount no matter how much I work.

    • Jody April 30, 2017, 4:29 am

      Yup, that’ll do it. You have my aptoiceapirn.

  • Monty Loree May 7, 2008, 1:57 pm

    Agreed with all of your points.
    I've been self employed for 20 years. I am now full time out of my house.
    I like it much more than going to an office. I have all the gear.

    The difference is now my business is established, my kids are older, we're debt free, and I'm not as much of a work-a-holic as I used to be.
    I love being at home.

  • Alex May 7, 2008, 12:36 pm

    Thanks. I deal with all of these assumptions regularly. Though, I have to admit, number 8 is sometimes true if I'm really engrossed in a project, or struggling to meet a deadline.

  • interfab May 7, 2008, 12:34 pm

    Great post! I've been self-employed and have worked from home for years now… and let me tell you I can relate to your points. I'd like to add 1 though……..

    Friends & family assume you're always available to talk or hang out or help them with some computer problem.

    Over Christmas my brother-in-law made a toast telling me how proud he was, because I could support a family “BUT DON'T EVEN HAVE TO WORK”

    LOL… if he only knew the hours the self-employed really work.

  • Jennifer May 7, 2008, 11:00 am

    This is great – I appreciate you putting it all in one place!

    I have to contribute a hearty “hear-hear!” to the comment about skimping on a work space. Of course, you *can* skimp if you're on a budget, but in the long haul it pays to treat yourself like a real business (because you are!).

    Thanks for the laughs, Glen.

  • Jijnes Patel May 7, 2008, 10:36 am

    Nice post. I'm not self-employed, but I do work from home and I can say that without a doubt I am a good 20% more productive than when I was in the office. The two habits I had to kick though is that even though I did not have people walking into my cube distractions, I had to manage my IM and emails better to avoid being sucked in.

  • Rick May 7, 2008, 10:24 am

    Number 10
    “10. You know everything about computers.”

    Happens to everyone whether your self employed or an employee of an organization. You would not believe how many times I get someone thinking since I work in IT, I know everything about IT.

    Great post though, I've always considered going towards self employment, but wondered about some of the misconceptions above.

    • Glen Stansberry May 7, 2008, 10:43 am

      Don't let this post scare you away from self-employment. I still think there's no contest that being self employed is still far better than working for a company.

      • Rick May 7, 2008, 11:22 am

        Glen, don't worry…

        If anything it has pushed me more into considering a self-employed life someday. I am glad my assumptions about self employment were answers, especially number 8 “You work in pajamas, don’t brush your teeth, and never see the sun.”

        Glad to know it can be done without having to live with a unhealthy lifestyle!

        (Plus what really got to me is this: “I make it a point to take a shower, go for a run, eat a great breakfast and read every day before I start work.”
        I am not an early riser and and more productive during the evening/night. I hate having to wake up rush through breakfast just to get to work at 9am. Love my job, hate waking up 7am in the morning…)

    • Martin Muehl May 7, 2008, 3:26 pm

      It's the same for webdesigners. “You are a webdesigner? Great! Which Notebook shall I buy and how can I fix my printer?” OMG I hear that all the times…

  • thetruth May 7, 2008, 9:27 am
    • Glen Stansberry May 7, 2008, 10:42 am

      Sorry thetruth, but for some reason the video “isn't available in my country” :(