Making the Transition From Self-Employed to the Workforce

The move from self-employed into the general wage earner workforce can be a big change. Running your own business and then working for someone else can be a big cultural change that will take mental preparation. Leaving your own business, or putting it on the back burner, isn’t easy. A lot of time and effort has been invested, and there’s a real personal attachment. However- The move into employment for someone else can also bring personal rewards, and new opportunities.


The main problems people face when making the move from self-employed into the workforce are:

  • Less control over situations: Not being the person calling the shots can require some adaption to the situation. You need to acknowledge the fact that the employer is making decisions as a business owner, to appreciate the positions.

  • Opinions about issues: As a former manager, you won’t always agree with some decisions and policies. Your opinion may be asked, but state your opinions with due respect to the rights of management. Make positive contributions, not negative assertions.
  • A comparatively smaller, less active, work environment: The new job will give you a lot less to do than your old business. You won’t have to worry about everything to do with the entire operation. That sudden empty space requires some lead time to get used to it.


Your self-employed time can be a major asset in getting a new job. Running your own business gives a very broad spectrum of useful experience. In your field of specialization, you have a good knowledge base to work with, now you’re in the workforce. You can use your experience in some extremely productive ways:

  • Project work: Project management and business management are quite similar in many ways. You’ve already got the experience to run projects, particularly in specialist areas. Your prior management experience makes you a natural candidate, and gives you a chance to show what you can do.
  • Filling in for higher positions: Another area where former managers can shine.  You can help take some of the load off managers, with some tact and selective choice of work. 
  • Advanced work: Most former self-employed people can do advanced types of work others can’t. That’s a natural consequence of experience, and formerly self-employed people can manage themselves and their work much better in those complex fields.
  • Advisory roles: A natural result of the experience running your own business is that you acquire a lot of local and industry knowledge. You may find that you’re the new expert in these areas.

Important Considerations

Remember that you’ve been hired on the basis of your experience: Self-employed people often forget that their old business is part of their resumes. The old business still works for you as a useful career asset. Don’t underestimate yourself or underrate your abilities. You’re not starting from scratch again, you’re building on experience. The major transition from self-employed to employment can sometimes blur your view of your career options. Stay focused on possibilities and constructive career moves.