I am a firm believer that the only way for a woman not to be taken advantage of in this business is to be 100% independent... As far as it being a hard business to run, I believe that is just a poly men and agencies use to trick women into thinking they could never do this alone. I have always been independent, with no helpers what so ever.
My motto is, I'm the only person who is going to make a dime off of my ass. Granted I have always been computer savvy and very organized and able to catch on to things very quickly. Keeping up with clients and screening is not HARD at all...
I believe pimps trick their victims into believing they need them, by telling them, oh I'll protect you, oh I'll buy your hotel room, I can't stand the idea of someone getting a cut of my hard earned money when they took none of the risk.
Obviously agencies and pimps run 80% of the business, but they wont be getting any of my money. I can keep up with my own clients, post my own ads rely on my good sites and my own screening process. I am just glad that luckily I have never even KNOWN a man who thought he was "PIMP" , that's right I have never even KNOWN a man who was of such nature, and hope I never do!!! I have no regrets about anything I have done in this business because I know I have made 100% profit.
I am sure some of them get away with charging more than I charge... but that means nothing when you are giving 50%-100% of it away.
I also believe that the pimped out girls are the main ones who encounter bad guys because their pimps don't even screen halfway for their asses when things get tight, they just send them out to who ever calls their phone. At least being independent you can get a feel for every client you meet before you meet them. You know exactly how everything went down, from the first text/phone call and can judge accordingly. I would hate to just get a call or text saying be at this mans house or be ready for this man to come over at such-and such a time , and that's that. (granted I don't know if agency or pimp gives them more info than that because I have never worked for one, but I cant imagine they do). I glad that I have had the experiences I have had being an Independent escort.