Can Social Workers Be Entrepreneurs?
It’s been just over a year since I took the fear-inducing, life-altering, terrifyingly amazing leap from working as a social worker to entrepreneur. To say this ‘required some adjusting’ would be a massive understatement. To say “having breakdowns and meltdowns and feel crazy and wonder what the hell you’re doing with yourself and your whole life and why do you even exist in the first place?!” would be much more accurate.
For starters, my background and education in social work did not prepare my mind to think like that of an entrepreneur. Here’s why:
-Most social workers have been conditioned to believe we will work for a non-profit, the government or organization (but rarely actually run them). Not a bad thing just the reality of the need and the work available.
-We have been conditioned and then accepted the reality that we will barely make enough money to cover our basic needs (even if we spend another $35,000+ on getting our master’s degree)
-We take great pride in referring to ourselves and identifying as ‘social workers’ (at least I sure as heck did/do). When we no longer are in that field, it’s a very disconcerting and feels like a chunk of our identity has disappeared.
These presented challenges from the shift of being an employee to being self-employed as well as my new reality of working for myself.
Downside of Entrepreneurism:
- There is no schedule
- No consistent paycheck
- You pay (A LOT) for your own insurance
- No one is required to guide you or give you tangible tasks to do
- You must motivate yourself to do the work (and watching reruns of the ‘West Wing’ doesn’t count as work)
- It can be lonely without coworkers
- The new world of entrepreneurism is unknown, scary and overwhelming
There is, of course, a positive side to this career change as well.
- You get to create your own schedule, which 98% of the time is way more grueling than working for an organization but you are able to go for a run at 10:23am and stop for an ice cream break at 3:30pm should you feel so inclined
- While there is no consistent paycheck, there is also no limit on how much income you can generate-that is fully up to you and clients you bring in (scary and empowering at the same time)
- There is no upside to paying for your own insurance but if I find one, I’ll be sure to let you know
- You can create your own way to accomplish the work that needs to be done
- Work with your husband who is also a motivational speaker/person in general and he will help with this
- You can get a lot more done without the drama of workplace gossip and politics (plus, that’s what happy hour is for to catch up with past co-workers to get the scoop)
- Everyone who makes this transition experiences this. You aren’t supposed to know how to do this but you can learn it.
So yes, I do think social workers can make excellent entrepreneurs because we are smart, more socially aware of injustices and know what it’s like to work hard and make minimal amounts of money initially. It just might take some of us a little more time to retrain our brain and create a new mindset.
Stay tuned for Part Deux on Wednesday as I shed some light on the soul-shattering things being an entrepreneur has taught me.
If you are a social worker and/or entrepreneur, please share this article with your network!
If you are an entrepreneur, what was one of the hardest things for you to adjust to?
If you are a social worker, what is one of the best things about the work you do?
If your career is in another field, feel free to share any thoughts or comments about the topic!