Don’t be surprised when more people than you thought advise against such action.
Regardless of the state of the economy, there is little doubt that the UK (and most, if not all other western societies) has become more risk averse over the past decade or three. Tightening health and safety regulations, irrational worries over litigation arising from supposed ‘mistakes’ and the general blame culture are key causes.
But feeding into this sad soup of reasoning is the fact we all have far greater access to instant information. And such is the competition for our attention that articles have tended to become more sensationalist. As a consequence, there are far more ‘experts’ in the world who possess a little knowledge on a wide range of headline subjects – one of them of course is setting up in business and the associated risks.
So when people wish to offer you advice about the problems and pitfalls of going it alone, check out their credentials and clarify the extent of their knowledge and the root of their wisdom. There’s no need to be rude or aggressive, but simply ask them about their experience of self employment or working with people like yourself and how they are able to gauge the risks involved.
It was the same with hitchhiking. There are not that many people with first-hand experience of thumbing lifts, yet the skewed advice I received on the subject combined with the sincere belief that the risks certainly outweighed the rewards was stunning. In the end I learnt to switch off to the uninformed pessimist – or try and convert them to my way of thinking.
Having said all that, when you do meet people who have first-hand experience of being their own boss, take all the advice you can get. If they are seeking to steer you on a path away from self employment it is worth listening to their thinking – so question and clarify the points being made so that you fully understand the guidance available. Even though you might not agree with what is being said, the advice is likely to be very valuable.
Ultimately, the decision about going it alone will probably be yours alone. It is the first of many decisions that will be made but if you can sort the wheat from the chaff early (in terms of the people whose judgement and advice you seek and trust) you are far more likely to be confident about the direction you are headed.
Key Learning Points: Whilst people might mean well, judge carefully who you listen to when seeking advice about self employment. Always counsel people who have personal experience of setting up and running their own business.