Is Self-Employment Really For Me?

There are plenty of advertisements on TV, radio and the internet for becoming self-employed and all seem to highlight the same ideas- More money
- Less & more flexible hours
- Do the projects that you want to do
- Be your own bossIs this really for you? From the lines above I bet almost everyone is saying yes but there will be a few of you who are slightly more sceptical.Like the majority of you I said “yes” too, however I found that there were a number of pitfalls and I eventually had to concede defeat and admit I failed.My aim for this article is not to discourage you from trying self-employment but rather to try and highlight self employment from the other perspective and show the difficulties that can be faced rather than just stating the potential benefits. Hopefully this will help you to avoid the same mistakes I made and really make sure that you are ready for self-employment before jumping in with both feet.Is Self-Employment really for me? – The Job
One of the big selling points of self-employment is being able to do the projects that you enjoy and move away from doing the projects that you don’t enjoy. I was a web developer and I enjoyed the web site and database development but I’m not a good with public speaker and writing user manuals bores me to tears, therefore, when I turned self-employed I wanted to drop off the public speaking and user manuals and focus on the website and database development.This didn’t quite work as I expected because I ended up having to do a lot of public speaking in the form of phone calls and business meetings in order to try and sell my services and get work in. I also had to write up proposals and weekly progress reports about the tasks I had done for my clients.Looking back on it now it would appear that I didn’t drop off any of the work I disliked at all but instead it was all there, all the time, just with a different face on it. I bet that many of the tasks you would like to put drop off will still need done even if you change to being self-employed.In addition to not losing the work you disliked I found that a considerable amount was added on like proposals, invoicing, payroll, accountancy, tax returns to name but a few. This all needs on in excess of the hours you normally work and generally isn’t something you can bill for. You may spend half a considerable amount of time doing a decent proposal for a job but if in the end you don’t get the job you have to re-cover your losses from elsewhere.Is Self-Employment really for me? – The Hours
Everyone who is trying out to be self-employed says the same thing… they want to get away from working the 9am to 5pm and have more flexible hours so they can take the morning off, finish at lunchtime on a Friday or even have more 4 day weekends. I was looking forward to the same thing but 2 years down the line I’m still waiting to see any of these.With the additional work you needing done (as mentioned above) I found I had to do the normal 9am – 5pm on the billable work and then spend evenings or weekends doing the non-billable work. Finishing time slowly drifted from 5pm to 7pm to 9pm until it eventually got to the stage where the only time I wasn’t working was when I was sleeping.I have tried taking the odd long weekend off but for me this is when my clients choose to call you which resulted in the most amount of phone call I have ever received in a single day and it was supposed to be my day off. As a result I had my mobile to my ear for a large portion of the day and quite a few quid racked up at the nearest internet café.I realise it must be tempting to give out your mobile phone number so you’re clients can reach you easily but I recommend against it, or at least get a separate mobile number for your work calls. Giving out my mobile number only resulted in being called anytime a client feels like it including 10pm on a Friday night or 8am on a Sunday morning. Sometimes this would even be about home IT problems which have absolutely nothing to do with the projects I was doing for them. I would recommend only giving a business number out and then you can switch it to the answering machine at 5pm on Fridays and allow yourself a break and time to relax until Monday morning.One of the things we take for granted is the paid holiday that we receive in our employment. Being self-employed means you no longer get the benefit of paid holidays or sick days and you need to bring in enough money not only to pay for the holidays and sick days but to cover the income you will lose out on during these periods. Since my step into self-employment I don’t recall having a properly holiday and the longest I can recall is 5 days and that is including the weekend.Is Self-Employment really for me? – The Additional Expenses
The will be additional expenditure required regardless what type of business you try to start up but some types will obviously require more that others. For me I had the following additional expenditures:– Business Insurance (Public Liability & Professional Indemnity)
- Accountancy
- Reseller Hosting
- Travelling Expenses
- Computers & Software
- Running CapitalThe first 3 amounts to about £200 a month for me and travelling expense varies wildly from month to month and it all has to come out of your pocket (at least initially until you’ve got a project to invoice). Previously your employer would have had to take care of all that and you would just submit your expense claim at the end of the month and got all your business expense back.Running Capital is another problem I faced. Usually I had enough coming in to cover the bills and expenses but if a client wanted a new PC installed I would have to get them to purchase the PC directly as my funds could not strech to have that kind of expense put on it. This poses 2 problems:– This does not give the impression of a successful company
- As the client is purchasing direct you cannot add any mark up on these items.Is Self-Employment really for me? – The Person
One of the other aspects to consider is the personality of the individual going into self-employment. If you get a difficult client that comes back with your invoice and says “I’m not paying that” then are you able to follow through and chase it up and get the relevant collection agencies involved if required or would you just write it off?If you are the latter then you may well find a lot of people will try and take advantage of your nature and push down your rate or demand you cut your invoice total even though there is nothing wrong with the value you quoted. You will have to ensure you are able to commit and not back down otherwise your clients could have you working for peanuts and throwing in extra things all over the place that weren’t part of the original project specification and expect it for free.One of the best examples I’ve come across is when I was doing a few home PC repairs when I was previously employed. My friends would ask me to come round after work and fix problems with their computers and in return I would buy me a pint when we went to the pub. This continued after I became self employed with exactly the same in terms of payment (1 pint) even though I could be there 5 minutes or 5 hours… they had just come to expect it that way even though every job I now did had to contribute to my income that month.At some point I spoke to them about this arrangement and told them I would have to start charging now since this is where my income comes from and from that day forth they’ve never asked me to fix their computer again.This may seem like I’ve lost a potential client but they were the ones reaping the benefits while I got nothing in return and they were clearly not interested in paying for the services they were receiving.Is Self-Employment really for me? – The Sales Call
This is partly associated with the person (see section above) again. About 2 hours after I got my business phone line installed I got a phone call from a business directory trying to get me to purchase their services and they succeeded but as it turns out the service didn’t do my business any good. Unfortunately I was one of the individuals who could be talked into something fairly easily and more than one company managed to get their talons into my because of that.What I’ve taken away from those experiences is a process I now follow with each conversation of that nature.Firstly, if I have the time, I listen to what is being offered and then I take the contact details and tell them I will contact them back at a time convenient with me. This allows me to research the product or services without the pressure of someone trying to hard sell it to me.Secondly I ask the following questions:– Do I need the service?
- Can I afford the service?
- Do they want me to make a decision right now?If the answer to either of the first 2 are no then I don’t bother calling back and if they call me back then I firmly stick to my answer, regardless how they try and spin their product.If they are offering a special discount to try and entice you but they insist you make a decision right now then again that’s when I say no and stick to it. If they are trying to get you to commit to something which is only available if you accept right now then it’s most likely something that not going to be useful.At the end of the day their job is to make money out of your company and they don’t care if you need it or not. Your job is to make money for your company so you will have to learn how to deal with these call very quickly otherwise you will have companies talking you into buying their products even though you don’t have any use for them.Is Self Employment really for me? – The Home Life
I think one of the most important things to bear in mind is to manage to keep a home life too but this can be hard to do, especially if you are working from home. The long hours and stress can put a lot of strain on your home life and create problems between you and the rest of your family so you will need to create boundaries to help keep everything balanced.Although you have to work hard to become self-employed, especially when you are trying to establish yourself, you should make sure that you don’t put the work over the family.Conclusion
Although this seems to portray a negative image of self-employment this is simply highlight some of the problems I encountered as I tried my hand at self-employment. Everyone will have different experiences, successes and failures and I strongly believe if you have the drive to start your own business then you will succeed and certainly no-one should stop you from trying!If you do intend to try self-employment I would like to wish you the very best of luck and I hope you succeed in whatever venture you decide to try. I also hope that this article helps you think about what may be involved and helps you avoid some of the problem I’ve faced.

Boomer Generation Fitness Tips

A generation of baby boomers is now entering their 60′s with high expectations of themselves when it comes to how they will spend their retirement years.  The boomer generation has always thought of lifestyle as a key factor in determining how successful they are at living and the key to that living is health.  Many boomers plan to travel the world and see all of the things that they have read about over the years, but without good health and a reasonable level of fitness, those dreams are often shattered.

Most of us dread the thought of spending long tedious hours in a gym grunting and groaning on machines that are dripping with someone else’s sweat and germs in order to restart some sort of muscle activity.  This process is usually spurred on by looking in a mirror and realizing that it will be difficult to view all of the sight seeing locations, let alone getting on and off the bus, without some minimum level of strength and agility. What is the easiest and most effective way to approach better health through fitness? We need to concentrate on three main body areas, mainly upper body, core and lower body.  There is no point in trying to work on minor muscles when what we really need to do is make sure that the major groups are strong enough to do the job.  The smaller ones will follow along as we become more active.  Let’s look at 3 specific calisthenics you can do at home in about 10 minutes per day:

  1. UPPER BODY   push ups are the obvious choice to make the most difference in the least amount of time.  If you can’t use your toes to sustain the full body push up, then use your knees and keep your back straight as you lower your upper body to the floor and raise back up.  It is very important to maintain correct form but just as important to do as many push ups as possible in 90 seconds.  I realize that might be only one, but to get the most benefit requires pushing yourself slightly beyond what you thought you could do.  Spend an honest minute and a half working at your pushups and record the number so that you can do an extra one next time.  When finished, rest for 2 minutes.
  2. CORE   you know what’s coming, situps, of course.  Two ways to do this, first crunches.  Lie on your back, raise your knees to a 45 degree angle with your feet firmly on the ground and cross your hands over your chest – never place your hands behind yur neck.  Now, spend 90 seconds lifting your upper body as high as possible (this might be only a few inches) and lowering back to the floor.  Try to move your head up and down vertically as opposed to bending it forward and straining your neck.  Count again and add more each day to increase your core strentgth.  The second method requires bending your knees in the same way but hooking your feet under a chair or something sturdy so that they won’t lift off the ground.  Now, keeping your hands crossed on your chest, lift your entire upper body to a sitting position and return to the floor slowly.  Count again and record the total number you do in 90 seconds.  You will do fewer of these but they are much more effective. Rest for another full two minutes.
  3. LOWER BODY   squats are a great choice and once again 90 seconds and do as many as possible.  Standing with your arms stretched straight out in front of you, palms down, move your arms back and keep them at shoulder height then lower them to your sides while you lower your body to squat position keeping your back straight. Lift your self back up, using your legs, thighs and hips in a smooth motion to your original position. 

The key to the success of this program is the natural process of your own body which continues to benefit from this brief activity for hours afterward.  Dr. Al Sears, in his program called PACE, shows how our bodies increase the capacity of our heart and lungs without creating more fat stores by the use of a short duration but high intensity workout.  This is especially important for a boomer generation trying to become healthy and fit in the most efficient way possible.

Post-capitalistic Free Market Society, How Can US Be Rescued (Part V) – Economy, Work and Retirement

Here is how a technological democratic society operates. We will be looking into the application of equality of opportunity in four areas of capital, labor, state and technology. This is the heart of democracy, because, there cannot be any kind of real democracy without having economic democracy.A. CapitalTo democratize the ownership of capital, the principle of equality of opportunity prohibits unjust enrichment. It simply means that no person receives property without giving in return a comparable compensation. This is known as the principle of unjust enrichment. Its application establishes the property ownership and relationship in a democratic society with the following consequences:1. Inheritance. Inheritance is the highest cause of inequality of opportunity. It leads to class stratification. It is the first factor in creating an unjust society. Since anything received through inheritance is free and without comparable compensation, it amounts to an unjust enrichment. If it elevates the opportunity of the beneficiaries to the extent that it creates unequal opportunities, it cannot be allowed under the principle of equality of opportunity. The proceeds from inheritance go into the Public Consumption Fund, a public organization, to be spent in providing vital services to society such as education and health care. The result is that as the rich individuals die, their wealth, to the extent allowed by the principle of equality of opportunity, is transferred to this organization and used for public good. Gradually wealthy families, which enjoyed a very high opportunity under capitalism, disappear while their riches are used to enrich and enlighten the masses as a whole. In a span of a few decades, society ceases to have any super rich. The ruling capitalist elite dies and with it disappears its dominating economic and political powers.Fortunately, the U.S. Constitution embodies the concept of equality of opportunity. It only needs to be specified to apply to economic and social aspects of life. The process of transition will be peaceful. It requires Congress to propose a proper amendment to the U.S. Constitution clarifying the application of equality of opportunity to economic, political an social aspects of life. Since the amendment, if ratified, would prohibit inheritance, for the stage of transition, Congress should specify a figure for maximum inheritance such as $5 million. This will insure the ratification of the amendment since only 0.7percent of population has wealth in excess of this amount. The result will be equalization of the wealth within the limit of $5 million. Decades later when minimum national inheritance level will increase disparity will be negligible or may be readjusted then to guarantee full equality of opportunity. [1]2. Profits. As presented before, as globalization progresses, free trade market economy causes the kind of keen competition that continually cuts down the profit margin leading to its virtual elimination.[2] The profit motive remains still there but rarely materialized. At this stage, estimated to materialize in four to five decades, the society’s levers of power- the multinational corporations, the military and their politician and bureaucrat supporters and collaborators- are eliminated from power status. By the coordinated efforts of local groups all over the country, equality of opportunity prevails, the economy and social structure are reconstructed for efficiency and justice. The production in a cooperative way focuses primarily on people’s primary needs. Every able person participates whether in neighborhoods, communities or work places. People work for a few hours a day having ample time free for leisure, art, music and other creative work and enjoyment.3. Labor. Regarding labor and workforce, there is a very basic distinction between capitalism and technological democracy. Under capitalism, the capitalist controls land, capital and technology, and employs labor from the market. Under technodemocratic economy, the workers own and control the capital and all other means of production. The principle of equality of opportunity controls the process of ownership of capital and prescribes its democratization. It materializes the total private ownership of the means of production and distribution to the extent never achieved before. It prescribes that the ownership of capital be gradually and systematically transferred from the capitalist to the workers. For clarification, it must be noted that the term worker in this concept embodies any person working for the capitalist from top management and professionals down to the unskilled workers. Under this concept, while each worker receives a regular wage, he is also given a certain specified amount of shares of the firm where he works. Thus from the time he receives his first pay, he starts to become a part owner of the firm. As the years pass, the worker continues to accumulate capital and increase his share of ownership. As the big capitalists die, their share of stocks revert to the Public Consumption Fund and from there is placed in the stock market for sale. These shares are purchased by different institutions, public institutions in particular, and gradually transferred to the workers including public employees along with their monthly pay. Some is also purchased by individual. [3]After four or five decades, the capitalist class as we know today, disappears and the ownership as well as control of capital and production firms become wholly transferred to a new capitalist class the same as the working class. From there on as the retired workers die, their share of stocks go to the Public Consumption Fund and placed in stock market and finally purchased by different institutions and gradually transferred to the new generation of workers along with their pay. For the shares that each worker owns, he receives dividend which continues to increase as he continues to accumulate more and more stocks. Each worker is entitled to full benefit of ownership of his stocks except that they are not transferable to others but can be exchanged with other non-transferable stocks of other institutions on the stock market for the purpose of diversification of their ownership. This non-transferability of the stocks is prescribed by the principle of equality of opportunity and, as it will be presented later on, income from these stocks takes the place of social security and old age benefits for the owner during the retirement period since under technological democracy there are no public welfare programs such as social security, medicare or food-stamps or else. Health care and education are the only programs available free for all, funded by the Public Consumption Fund and not the government.4. Position Classification. Position classification is a technology developed for organizing, classification and equalization of similar positions. It describes the responsibilities of each position and corresponding financial compensation range. Under this technology, positions are classified vertically as well as horizontally. This system is applied nationally and universally to all available positions. Horizontal positions are those requiring similar levels of skills to carry out job requirements. However, these positions may not be similar in the kind of functions and skills they require. For example, medical doctors, lawyers, and top administrators all require a high level of professional skill, while functionally they are quite different from one another. They may be placed horizontally in one category and entitled to the same range of compensation. The same applies to clerical or other class of worker. Vertical positions are classified from the lowest to the highest.Technology of position classification was created primarily for the purpose of increasing and controlling productivity as well as providing equitable pay systems, similar pays for similar jobs. This technology is not new; it has been used in every industrialized society by its public sector and by all major, medium size and some small private institutions. However, each institution has its own independent position classification and corresponding pay system. The national government, each state government, major city governments and giant corporations each has a position classification of its own. There is no uniformity among these systems and there are injustices. Furthermore, a great variety of small businesses do not have a classification system yet these are the institutions employing the majority of the working class people who are not subject to any standard of pay and are generally exploited. Under technological democracy all these systems are brought under one umbrella with the same standards of positions and corresponding pay system. However, such a monumental classification is not done in detail by a central office. This would be an impossible task. The national government through the Position Classification and Pay Commission, a branch of the National Economic Council, establishes a general classification of positions, a system somehow similar to the present national classification. Then it requires each institution , private or public, large or small, to establish its own position classification and pay system within the framework established by the national classification and pay system. A copy of this classification by each firm is entered in Technodem website available to everyone including every employee in the institution. The Technodem will check this classification against the national system and will inform the institution about discrepancies for correction, if any. This classification is put into operation by the corresponding institution until it is objected by the Technodem or the regional classification council.[4]The systems are reviewed each year by each institution as new technologies develop, certain positions are abandoned, new positions are created or functions of some positions are modified or changed. Position classification under one national model system has several benefits.1. It harmonizes and standardizes all available positions, private or public.2. It equalizes the pay system, similar pay for similar jobs, regardless of race, color, sex or whether a worker is a union member,3. It eliminates the union bargaining and thus eliminate unionization for economic purposes.4. It simplifies position and pay classification at the institutional level following a standardized and updated national model.5. It democratizes the work system by providing equality of opportunity in similar positions with similar pay.6. It allows regional agencies, through Technodem technology, to supervise the proper and uniform application of national standards.7. It allows discretion in each institution to proceed with its own position and pay classification.8. It gives each employee an opportunity to evaluate his position requirement and pay level in comparison with the national standards and, in the case of discrepancy, petition first his institution and then file his petition with the Technodem which will examine the complaint instantaneously and respond to it. If the institution did not resolve the issue according to the Technodem advice, he then can petition the regional classification council which will usually go along with the Technodem finding. By this way position classification in each institution is scrutinized by its employees and brought to the level prescribed by the national standards.5. Shared Opportunity and Full Employment. This is a very important principle of democratic employment opportunity. The application of the principle of equality of opportunity requires that those having a higher level of employment opportunity share it with those lacking such opportunity at the same position level. This refers in particular to unemployed workers seeking employment. Of course, at every skill level, those employed have a higher opportunity than those unemployed. The principle of shared opportunity is employed to equalize the situation. It requires that those who have employment, in order to provide for equality of opportunity, forgo a small part of their employment opportunity by giving up a small part of their work, say one hour per week, and thus provide employment opportunity for their unemployed fellows.For example, if there is a 100 million work force and each worker gives up one hour of his weekly work, nationwide 100 million work-hours amounting to 2.5 million full time positions will become available to those unemployed or new comers. [5] It needs to be noticed that unemployment in technological democracy has a different character. Everyone starts working part-time when he reaches 15 years of age and completes his professional or technical education while working. So work under technological democracy has a transitory character and is an individual right. Sharing opportunities provides for continuous employment, causing stability in the market and thus eliminates a major cause of recession by providing job security for working years. The inflationary process will also be prevented since there will be no monopoly firms, no price increase to maximize profits. Giant corporations will automatically divided into many smaller firms, and competition in the market will be tense, more realistic and free. This decentralization and dispersal will take place because once workers receive controlling shares of a giant firm they will tend to eliminate the superstructure of the corporate bureaucracy which did not produce anything and had also lost its unproductive use. Then, workers’ desire to have voice in the production process will tend toward dismantling the giant corporation into smaller entities in which the policy-makers will be directly attached to the operation of production and each worker can feel his voice and power over his institution. The same will happen to the branches or affiliated firms abroad. They would want to be independent especially when the superstructure in domestic country becomes abolished. Thus the era of giant multinational corporations will become history as a stage of transition from monopolistic international capitalism to competitive technodemocratic economy. The old motto that “small is beautiful, controllable, more democratic,” will become materialized.6. Old Age Benefits: Unlike the welfare programs instituted under the existing capitalistic and socialistic systems, there will be no retirement or general welfare programs under the technological democracy. First, each individual will start part time work at the age of fifteen. His income from the work will be sufficient to pay for his living expenditures, since he will have no education expenses because it will be free for everyone at all levels. By the age 21 he will finish his college education (exceeding in value over an M.A. degree at the present) and will be employed full time. Each individual will be required to work for at least 30 years in order to provide a sustained and sufficient income for his old age period. It is estimated that if each worker receive the company stock equal to 25% of his pay, after 30 years, when he retires at the age 52, he will accumulate enough capital from the stocks and their accumulated returns to receive an income of around $30,000 to live modestly but comfortably considering that health care and education will be free and individual taxes will be very small. Most of taxes will be collected from production firms. However, while the individual retires from the official workforce, he does not retire personally. Being only 52 years old he has many years of active life to contribute and be productive in social, political and economic fields. These could be either voluntary or income producing. This retirement after 30 years of service is mandatory in order to maintain equality of opportunity in workplace, and in no way deprives individuals from pursuing productive activities of their liking. It has also several important benefits: first, it provides vacancies to new workers entering the market, second, provides the retired workers with many years enjoyable and intellectually productive life; third, provides for participation in the political process where required qualifications for election is high and the service is temporary. At retirement, each individual would possess knowledge in humanities and social sciences far above the present Ph.D. level as a result of over thirty years of continuous graduate education, making him highly qualified to hold public or elective offices. Beside this, every person has also over Ph.D. level knowledge in his technical or professional field.[6]Thus this required retirement is technical rather than real. The individual who is highly educated and experienced at this stage of life, may get engaged in many different kinds of work such as art, music, creative writing, counseling, political or economic activities individually or in partnership with other retired persons. Since top policy making positions in regional and national government are temporary with four to six year terms, it will be an excellent opportunity for the post-retirement life. Under technological democracy the individual worker is made responsible to hold and take care of his own retirement stocks. That is why the stocks he receives monthly from his firm are non-transferable, while he can exercise all other benefits of ownership including annual returns from them during his lifetime. Particularly, that working people would be hesitant to run for political offices since this would interrupt their working process and financially have negative effect on their future promotions as well as their retirement benefits.
.References:1.Reza Rezazadeh, Technological Democracy: A Humanistic philosophy of the Future Society, 1990, pp. 192-1942. —————-, “Globalization and the End of Capitalism,” http://www.democracywhere.com also in http://www.ezinearticles.com3.—————-, Technological Democracy, opp. cited, pp.194-1984.—————-, Technodemocratic Economic Theory: From Capitalism and Socialism to Democracy, 1991, pp. 184-186. http://www.democracywhere.com5.Ibid., pp.186-188, 205, 235.6. Ibid., pp. 188-190, 219.Dr. Reza Rezazadeh1080 Eastman Street, Platteville, WI 53818Phone: (608)348-7064