The Reality of Self-Employment

by Adam on April 18, 2012

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Back in March I announced on Magical Penny I was striking out on my own.

Strangely enough,  I had not intended to become an entrepreneur.

Growing up I didn’t aspire to work for myself, and didn’t have any entrepreneurial role-models. But over the last two years, I began to realise that I had become an entrepreneur.

It’s what happens when you start working on projects you’re excited about and clients start paying you (fun, right?)

In some ways it feels surreal, but it also feels completely natural. After spending my life on a predictable path (School –> University –> Career), transitioning to self-employment feels incredibly freeing!

If you are thinking of transitioning to self-employment, here are some things I’ve found invaluable over the last few weeks:


Blessing my Opportunity Fund

If you are thinking about the self-employment path, you should definitely consider building up your  ‘Opportunity fund’ (and you should do it even if you don’t have entrepreneurial ambitions)

As I sit in my empty home, staring at an empty page, it’s comforting to know I’ve got savings to keep the lights on and food in my stomach as I work out my next move. I would hate to be worrying about money when I’m trying to be creative and open to new possibilities and adventures.

Knowing I can survive for several months, regardless of how things work out in this new life is a good feeling. So start saving those pennies.

Work on projects on the side

Truth be told, despite the awesomeness that is an opportunity fund,  I haven’t needed to dip too much into the fund because I’ve actually been making revenue since I became self-employed.

In fact, I made more than a day’s salary on my FIRST DAY of being self employed – very much a wonderful surprise!

But it wasn’t luck.

I already had platforms and projects I was involved with before I became self-employed, which has helped a lot.

To be candid, this site, Magical Penny has been one good source of revenue for me since I began working for myself. You may have noticed a few more adverts on here, for example.  I’m not counting on living on advertising revenue alone but having a source of income from day 1 is better than not.


Build an Amazing Network


Meeting incredibly accomplished, driven, talented, giving, new friends

My ‘opportunity fund’ was a real catalyst for change because it funded an amazing trip to South by South West.

Booking a fight was the first thing I did after my last day of traditional employment – allowing me to network and party with some of the top creative minds on the planet, in Austin, Texas.

Over the next week, I had the most amazing time and met some incredible people doing important, amazing, inspiring, impossible things.


The internet allows you to discover, collaborate and work with amazing people who you might not have had access to in the past. But meeting these same people in person allows you to build deeper relationships and simply have fun with people who understand the self-employed (internet) lifestyle.

We’re all in this crazy world together and the power of a solid network of talented individuals cannot be overstated.

Already the relationships I formed or strengthened have begun to pay off in my life and my fledgling business.

These people also inspire me as I sit at my desk with a blank page, about to begin writing the next chapter of my new life.


Remember you don’t have all the answers

If any of this has resonated with you, you might be inspired to become self employed yourself. Whilst I won’t cheerlead you into that decision (I’m far too early on this journey myself but if you want to be persuaded you could read this… ), I will say that it’s only natural to be a little apprehensive about not knowing all the answers.

I certainly don’t have everything figured out. But don’t let that worry stop you if transitioning to self-employment is a meaningful goal for you.



Regardless of your current situation, you can find a way to build an opportunity fund, work on meaningful projects, and develop your network by reaching out to people doing cool things.

Once you’re doing that, then all you have to do is start hustling and working to help other people.

Help enough people and you won’t need to worry about growing your very own magical pennies 🙂

That’s my plan, anyway.


What do you think?

Let me help you learn to save and start investing and I’ll send occasional emails to you to help you on your way.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }


My Dad was self employed for a number of years. Growing up, he repeatedly told me not to become self-employed, but wouldn’t ever explain why. I can’t help but wanted to be self-employed, to find out for myself what all the fuss was, and if I could do it better!


I’ll be the first to admit I’m in the honeymoon stage – I haven’t had to sort my taxes yet, nor do I have a family to support.


Sounds like one of the keys was the smooth transition you enjoyed since you continued earning income even though you quit your job. I totally agree. Not only is this important just to meet expenses, but you can’t understate how psychologically defeating it can be to see your bank account dwindling. Morale is important for achieving anything.

Last thing – I am really surprised that you didn’t mention, “Do It While You’re Young ” There is no doubt start-ups require a lot of energy, time, and risk-acceptance. These things all decrease as you age. It’s also hard to launch a new enterprise when you have mouths to feed.


Absolutely right about how much of life is a psychological game. Seeing my bank account drop and knowing that a big lump sum is not about to deposit itself in there at the end of the month is something I’m not quite used to yet.

And it was a great call to bring up my age and situation. It’s a huge factor as to why I’m not super stressed…I only have to look after myself rather than support a family. Nor do I have a mortgage or any other kind of debt other than income-based student loans.

Thanks Erik.

Frugal Portland

I’ve never heard of the term “opportunity fund” before — that’s awesome.


I completely agree, self employment arises loads of problems which we wouldn’t have faced had we been associated with any organization. Being a self employed person recently I can understand that several worries are there to cope up with, but as far haven’t faced any financial problem to deal with, though can’t say the same about future for sure.

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