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Home » Lifestyle Finance, Personal Motivation, Workplace Finance

70% of Americans want to be Self-Employed. What is Stopping you?

Last updated by on 15 Comments

There’s a huge gap in the United States between the percentage of Americans that ARE self-employed and the percentage of American’s that WANT to be self-employed. Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Percentage of Americans that are Self-Employed

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics July 2010 labor report, roughly 10 million out of 140 million, or 7% of full-time working Americans are ‘self-employed’. Full-time, in this report, refers to those working over 34 hours.

Percentage of American’s that want to be Self-Employed

At the same time, according to a Dartmouth study on self-employment desire, when asked the simple question:

Suppose you were working and could choose between different kinds of jobs. Which would you prefer:
being an employee
– or –
being self-employed?

A whopping 70.8% of Americans said that they wanted to be self-employed.

self-employment

A Huge Gap

These data points indicate a 10:1 ratio of Americans that want to be self-employed versus those that actually are. That’s a pretty stark difference. And it makes me really interested to find out what your reasons for not making the leap to self-employment are.

I’ve included a poll below for you to respond with the reasons why have decided to stay in the world of being employed by others. You can choose as many as you want, but please choose only the reasons that would actually stop you from making the move (in other words, if it’s something you think you could easily overcome, don’t select it). If I’m missing any reasons, add them to the comments and I will add into the poll.

What is Stopping you from Making the Jump to Self-Employment? (choose multiple, but only reasons you think you couldn't overcome)

View Results

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


15 Comments »
  • Mark says:

    You left out the incredible timesink that owning your own business can be. That’s a huge deal, especially if you have kids. In my experience, working for yourself means working far more hours. You might have some more flexibility in some ways, but you usually have less, because there’s no one else to fall back on but you when something needs to be done.

    I was self employed for a few years, and the negatives far outweighed the benefits, even when I was raking in the dough. I was far less in control of my life then than I am now with a 9-5, even though it kills me to not have a choice about what I’m going to do each day.

    I suppose this also falls under “too much stress and pressure”, but having owned my own business, you’ll often find that its often not as liberating as you think. In order for that business to be successful, money needs to come in, and that money generally HAS to come from other people. Theyre your new boss, and customers can be a far bigger PITA than a supervisor ever was.

    Bloggers seem to be the odd exception to the rule, where their money comes from invisible advertisers.

  • Chelsea says:

    What about those that are self-employed because they don’t really have another choice? I’m a writer recently out of college…. top of my class, good amount of awards, recognitions, experience on my resume… and I STILL couldn’t find a job for a pay that I could actually live on. (writers don’t get paid much – even at major regional newspapers)

    So, I’m self-employed because it was really the only option. Not that I’m complaining about it. BUT one thing I’m really missing out on is any kind of decent health insurance…. so especially if someone has a family to support, I’d say that is one major reason for staying employed by others.

  • Stacy says:

    This is a typical case of the grass is always greener syndrome. I think the reason that most people said they would rather be self-employed is because they never have been. They don’t realize what their bosses go through to find, employ, train and retain good people. They have never deciphered the costly intricacies of health care, liability insurance, benefits, and tax remittance. They might not have been the one person that everyone brings their problems to so that you can solve them. It isn’t always peaches and roses.

  • Paul says:

    I selected risk and camaraderie.

    Obviously the risk is huge – in either my personal passion or my specialty the marketplace is extremely competitive. I can write a moderately successful blog in my passion but to make that jump into having it be a full time job I would go from essentially no competition (as I can differentiate myself when it is a part time thing) to having to compete against the big boys.

    In my specialty offering my product to a retail crowd (small business or individuals/family) could be very successful, but its not a mainstream interest or one easy to sell. I also would certainly miss the team I work with, and that sort of relationship would be near impossible in a small business environment.

    • G.E. Miller says:

      @ Mark – agreed. In order to make it work, at least in the beginning, it’s a huge time investment. One that many people don’t expect, probably.
      @ Chelsea – health insurance is a biggie. How much do you pay out of pocket for your own plan?
      @ Stacy – You bring up a really good point. I wonder what % of self employed which they were employed full-time. That would be an interesting study.

  • Lots of people want to be self-employed. But they don’t realize the amount of work they will have to do. They have to definitely double the amount of hours they work per week. They have to take on the risk of failing.

  • Ron Ablang says:

    I chose “Too much risk involved – most businesses fail.”

    If I had to invest my life savings and my time to start & maintain a business, I would constantly be stressed that it could eventually fail, or at least I would have to keep putting in more time & money to keep it successful.

  • Joe says:

    Being self-employed isn’t actually all it’s cracked up to be. I tried it for about six months before deciding that I didn’t like chasing down paychecks and I really missed health insurance. Also, I had a client call me at 11pm on Thanksgiving. At least if you work for someone else, they filter all the administrative duties for you AND you get great health benefits and a steady paycheck.

  • Brandy says:

    How about government regulations?? People are scared to jump into doing it on their own because they are afraid they might not know all the paper work and licenses they may need to get.

  • Lots of people are afraid to leave their comfort zone. Your job is safe and secure, you have your boss taking care of you. Out in the world its cold and harsh. Your all alone. I know because I did it.

    You can do it too. Just don’t dive in, all or nothing. Do it slow and part time until you find the right path. Worst thing you can do is bet the farm on your idea. Its a risk. Take it slow.

  • Natalie says:

    I second what Mark said. I owned my business for three years and I eventually decided to rejoin the workforce. I had the freedom to stay locked in my house working 12 hour days. Every day I took off meant I had twice as much work to do the next day. There was no such thing as a paid vacation or benefits. I’m now happy to work for someone else making $15/ hr +benefits instead of the $50/hr I made when self employed. It really is a better deal.

  • Julie says:

    It’s strange to me that so many people would want to be self-employed. The idea just does not appeal to me at all. When you’re self employed, you take on all the risk and there is no garuentee of a reward. Maybe I’m just more risk adverse than most, but I’d rather work for a company where I know I’ll be getting a paycheck, than risk starvation for a year just so I can potentially make more money. As far as having “freedom” at your job, I think you just need to find the right job. I’m very happy doing what I do, and having my boss, my responsibilities, and someone else “telling me what to do”. You can hate your job but not need to go out on your own.

  • Honey says:

    I chose almost everything. There is literally nothing that appeals to me about the idea of being self-employed.

  • Scott Huxley says:

    It can be very difficult starting your business. Start up costs alone can be very prohibitive. Most people assume running your own business is easy than working for someone.

    Truth is its a lot harder than people imagine. More people should work for themselves to create more wealth for themselves and opportunities for others. But never let it be said its easier than being employed for someone else!

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