The “Work For Myself” Myth

There is a common myth that working as a freelancer, consultant or a company owner means “working for myself”. In my opinion that’s often a wrong perspective for people who are tired of working the wrong jobs for the wrong managers, trying to find an escape from this by running their own business and finding the holy grail.

Let’s revise several work scenarios in the WordPress development world.

  • Junior developer – managed by the other devs in the team, fully dependent on everyone else
  • Senior developer – with a team leader or a software architect laying out the foundations of the project, building the high level tasks
  • Team leader – under the hat of the CTO or a VP of Engineering who has the roadmap in mind

So, it makes sense to win a lottery and be a CTO, CEO or just a consultant, right?

Wrong. 

According to the Merriam – Webster dictionary, the definition of work is:

a job or activity that you do regularly especially in order to earn money

In order for you to earn money, you should be able to provide services or products demanded in your market niche. For example – developing WordPress websites or WordPress plugins, doing SEO audits of websites, designing a new WordPress theme, etc.

And whether you are a WordPress consultant or an agency owner, you need to sell your hours for product or service work in favor of your clients, paying you for what you have accomplished.

So, are you really working for yourself then?

A valid response to that would be: “I will build a product sold to users who would pay a single license cost or based on a recurring payment model”.

Then again, in order to get a decent amount of users, you need to work in favor of those users and provide the features they would need and are willing to pay for. And all feature requests that are to be implemented in future versions come from those users, which is exactly what a client would do in a service-driven business model. Alas, supporting users is sometimes even more demanding and restrictive than working with customers and defining milestones for a project.

In essence, unless you’re a multi-billionaire prince in a rich kingdom, you’re most likely working for someone else, regardless of your job title or day-to-day duties. Running a business or a “one man show” consulting model has other challenges and reports are sent to your clients or users instead of your direct manager, and that’s the only difference related to the “myself” context. Other than that, if you’re unhappy with your current job, either consider starting your own business or moving to a company where you would feel more appreciated, being able to contribute more and deal with interesting projects or challenges, but don’t fall for the illusion of the “work for myself” model and follow your goals and ambitions instead.

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