Would you be willing to trade your nice salary for ...?

Would you be willing to trade your nice salary for self-employed status (legal) and uncertain income?

  • Stay put and keep that golden rice bowl
  • Quit and throw myself headlong into self-employed status

0 voters

Would you be willing to trade your nice salary for self-employed status (legal) and uncertain income?

I have been tossing this decision around in my head for almost six months, now. Would definitely value some input from others…

Keep job
safe, secure, regular salary, benefits (limited but there), good status, good working environment, but limiting.

more risky, but more rewarding (emotionally financially), status undetermined, excellent working environment (my own), less contact…

What decision would you make?


It would depend entirely on the tax position.

Do you have a wife and kids? Mortgage? School tuition? If not, I say go for it. If you don’t do it now, you’ll always wonder what could have been…

These are some the questions I’d have to ask myself before making a choice:

  1. How much do I enjoy my current job?
  2. How difficult would it be to return to this or a similar position should the self-employment effort flop?
  3. How far could I fall if the self-employment idea flops or takes longer than anticipated to get going? That is, will I still be able to get by without moving to a smaller place, taking the kids out of private school, living on the street or with the inlaws, etc.
  4. How well have I researched the opportunity–market research? business plan?
  5. What’s the best-case scenario? That is, assuming everthing goes exactly as planned, how much better off will be than I am right now? How you answer this will of course depend on how highly you value money, independence, excitement, etc, and how much you enjoy your current (type of) job. Is there potential for expansion, or will I always be a “freelance” who has to work for a living?
  6. Will I still be eligible for low-cost health insurance (ie, NHI in Taiwan or group insurance elsewhere, maybe through your spouse’s job)?

Being the big wussie that I am, I would never leave the security of my job. My wife, however, is all about business, and seems to have no fear.

Although I am too chickenshit to go out on my own, I am well aware that I will never make the big bucks working for someone else. I know that if I needed legal advice, I could not afford to pat the rate that my firm charges for my services… yet many of my clients are small business owners who come to me with simple questions that I think they should be able to deal with on their own… but they are willing and very able to pay for expensive advice from me and my colleagues.

So, if the circumstances are right and you can afford to do it, go for it.

Good luck… I hope you succeed beyond your own highest hopes.

I quit a nice secure job 4 years ago as regional director (Far East) for a large UK company - after 18 years. Why? - because finally I couldn’t tolerate any more the bigwigs coming out from the UK twice a year and telling me how to do it!.

Now I work 2-5:30 with some Taiwanese friends and freelance English teaching about 16 hours a week. Result? - a little less money - but free.

And I’m married with 2 kids.

Do it again? - wish I’d done it 10 years ago.

Jeff raised some good questions. Another essential question, though, is what kind of self-employment are you talking about and what do you anticipate that employment would involve?

In 1994, I quit my employment with a law firm because the partners were unethical assholes (no, all lawyers aren’t that way). I opened my own practice and in many ways it was great. I had no trouble finding plenty of work and earning plenty of money, and I had the freedom to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and come in at 11 if I wished, or to go home at noon for a bike ride if the sun was shining. I could take the work I wanted and reject the work I didn’t want. And, while I did everything, from answering the phone, doing my own typing, making copies and running errands, that didn’t bother me. I took pride in doing it all.

But what sucked was not being able to take a vacation. I don’t know what kind of work you are contemplating, but for an attorney the work never stops. Urgent faxes, letters and phone calls come in at any time that demand immediate attention. When one runs the whole show, I learned, one can’t easily take a vacation. That, for me, was one of the greatest drawbacks of self-employment. Am I glad I did it? You bet. It gave me great pride and satisfaction and I learned many valuable lessons.

I say go for it, but make sure you’ve got more than enough dough saved up first, before you quit your regular job.

I’ve always been self-employed/freelance/paid by results, until last year.

Since I’ve been a salaried teacher I’ve hated the loss of control, the lack of freedom, and the money isn’t great either. I’ve accepted it because I’m new to the game and needed the ‘security’ and ARC.

Now I’m seriously thinking about jumping ship and going back to doing things my way. None of the alleged benefits of being employed - even when you get them - count for much against the benefits of making your own decisions.

MT is right about having some money in the bank - my problem right now - but the holiday thing is really down to how you organise your life. I’ve always been able to plan such things to suit my self rather than other people.

So I say go for it.


my two pennies worth.

A lot depends on your status here as well. If your ARC etc is through your current employer and not by marriage then as soon as you leave your ARC is cancelled, requiring you to leave the country and obtain a new visa. Also, all business here have to be majority owned by local nationals unless it is formed to be a branch office, but that then would require having a company setup in your home country.

Beyond the issues above is then who would be your client base, assuming it to be local people or businesses, do you have the necessary language skills with which to sell your businesses services or products.

Money and loss of some freedom would also be questions to be answered. Money in the beginning will be short, unless you have a nice big nest egg somewhere, dont forget that starting a business here however it is done requires a reasonable amount of capital investment. Freedom with regard to vacations and holidays are another topic, can you forego holidays until the business is doing well enough to employ at least someone to answer the phone take messages etc.

Having been self employed before, though not in Taiwan, i would personally say that generally it can be a great idea, but it does not suit everyone.

Hope this helps.

I am rather comfy in my current job, which isn’t secure (limited contracts) but at least I have a very good and steady income which gives me a certain degree of freedom, flexibility and helps me to secure my future. Sometimes I work long hours and during weekends, but sometimes it’s just 5 days a week from 9 to 5 with lot’s of time to surf on Segue. Due to the nature of my job I travel quite a bit which I enjoy, too, as I can’t stand to sit in the office the whole time.

Wouldn’t exclude the possibility to do something on my own in future but currently have no such plan.