Your Declaration of Independence

Often when I write articles for business publications about self-employment, someone will post a comment pointing to the failure rate of small businesses, as evidence that people should stick with traditional jobs.

It’s always smart to keep your eyes wide open when you’re considering starting a business and to test the waters by, for instance, launching it on a part-time basis or small scale before quitting a well-paying job. At the same time, I think it’s time to say goodbye to the outdated notion that a nine-to-five position is the only route to economic stability. It’s an illusion to think that corporate jobs are secure, unless you’re in a field like tech where there are talent wars. Many Americans will have no choice but to become freelancers, temps and contractors if they want to work in the future, given that a growing number of big companies are transitioning to a contingent labor force.

Viewing this change as an opportunity, not a threat can help you position yourself to thrive. Many people have already said no to corporate careers and are building successful businesses instead. Newly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows a growing number of “nonemployer” firms with sales in the high six figures or in the millions. (I was interested to see that folks in arts and entertainment businesses were among those best represented in the category with revenues of $5 million or more). Revenue does not correspond to the profits or take-home pay of the owners, but it can be an important benchmark of success.

You can find out more about these firms in a recent post I wrote for Forbes called “The Rise of the Million-Dollar One-Person Business.” In response to comments on the site, I will be following up with some more specific data about the highest-revenue nonemployer businesses within particular industries in the next couple of weeks.

Not everyone has what it takes to build a thriving small business, but seeing these numbers underlined for me just how many people do have the right stuff. If you’ve done your homework, don’t let fear of failure keep you from pursuing your dream of going independent.




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