Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other
© 2003 Elena Fawkner
You've read many articles I'm sure about the advantages and
disadvantages of working for yourself from your own home.
Many of them I've written myself, in fact. But how many
articles have you read that give equal time to the advantages
of working for someone else compared to working for yourself?
This article seeks to redress the imbalance by comparing and
contrasting the respective pros and cons of running your own
home-based business and working for someone else.
When you work for yourself from home, your commute is,
at most, a few steps from one end of the house to the other.
When you work in a traditional paid "job" your commute may
be a five minute drive or it may be an hour and a half or worse.
Both ways. That can add up to a substantial chunk of time
over the course of a week, a month or a year.
If you work from home, you can be around for your kids. If
you work outside the home, you may be spending a fortune
on childcare if your kids are too young for school and worrying
about what they're up to between the end of the school day
and when you get home if they're not.
On the other hand, having kids around while trying to run a
professional business from home can be a major distraction
and constant source of interruption. You may find you need
to use childminding services occasionally to take care of
INDEPENDENCE AND AUTONOMY
When you work for yourself, you call the shots, you make the
decisions and you do it without anyone looking over your
shoulder and breathing down your neck. When you work
outside the home, you are subject to the decisions (good and
bad), whims and control of your boss. Your boss dictates your
On the other hand, along with decision-making autonomy
comes an awful burden. If you get it wrong, you may not make
any money this week.
When you work for yourself, you can set your own hours -
both the actual hours you work and the number. When you
work for a boss, you work when and for how long you're told
(within limits, obviously).
Although setting your own hours may sound like freedom
to you, all too often working your own hours translates into
working all hours so you need to be able to set limits for
Also, when your boss dictates your hours, that may or may
not fit in with your body clock. One of the real advantages
of working for yourself is that you can choose to work during
your peak concentration time and not at all during your
sluggish times of the day. If your peak time is 5:00 am
through to 10:00 am, you can work those hours and another
couple sometime in the afternoon catching up on brainless
type tasks. If you work for someone else, you work when
you're told and if that doesn't work with your body clock, too
If you're a professional in the paid workforce, you may enjoy
a certain status and prestige, if that's important to you. On
the other hand, working for yourself you may find it difficult
to be taken seriously at all. Again, whether that's a relevant
factor depends on how important things like "status", "image"
etc. are to you. If they are important, take this seriously.
Although it may sound shallow, if it's going to be a thorn in
your side, give it some serious thought.
When you work for someone else, you have a ready-made
structure. There is a time for work, and there is a time to go
home. When you work for yourself, these boundaries can
become blurred over time, so much so that you may find
you have difficulty turning work off since you are, after all,
living in your work environment and vice versa.
If you're a personally disciplined person, working from home
will probably suit you very well. But if you find it difficult
to motivate yourself to do what has to be done and you
find yourself procrastinating over starting a particular work-
related task, you may find the distractions of being at home
particularly difficult to resist. If you find yourself doing laundry
and gardening when you should be working, this may be a
problem for you.
This is one of the biggies. THE big advantage of working
for someone else is that you have a regular paycheck coming
in. Leaving aside any worry of downsizing, assuming you do
your job competently, you can reasonably expect to receive
a certain, known amount of money at regular intervals. When
you work for yourself, however, the amount of money you make
and when you receive it can be, at best, spasmodic.
On the other hand, the money you make from working from
someone else is limited to your salary. When you work for
yourself, the sky's the limit provided you are successful at
what you do.
When you work for someone else, your boss is responsible
for capital expenditure and day to day expenses and you
don't have to worry about it or even think about it, for that
matter. When you work for yourself, however, you're responsible
for buying your capital equipment (computer, photocopier, fax
machine) and paying for repairs as needed. You're responsible
for paying your own electricity and phone bills, printing costs and
advertising expenses ... you name it, it falls on you.
Similarly, when you work for someone else you get to participate
in your employer's pension plan, you get paid health insurance
and vacations as well as numerous other benefits. When you
work for yourself, to get any of these things you have to pay for
them out of your own pocket.
Your employer pays for various insurances to protect the
business unit from risk. The types of insurance taken out will
depend on the nature of the business but will include, at a
minimum, products liability, business interruption and the like.
Again, as a home business owner, you must foot the bill for
Your employer is responsible for ensuring that the business
obtains and maintains all necessary business licenses. If
you're the boss, this is your responsibility.
When you're an employee, you get paid vacations. When
you're self-employed you don't. And even if you decide to
take a couple of weeks off, who's going to run the business
in your absence? Can you really just walk away for two
weeks? In reality, when you work for yourself, true vacations
are a thing of the past.
As an employee, the most you have worry about is paying
your state and federal income tax and claiming whatever
credits you're entitled to. When you're an employer
you have to think about all of that as well as self-employment
tax and a myriad of other business-related tax issues. An
accountant becomes an absolute necessity. Also, as a self-
employed person, no-one's withholding tax from your checks.
Make sure you put enough aside to pay the tax bill!
Security is relative. For some, security comes only from
working for someone else. For others, this is merely an
illusory form of "security" since none of us really knows
what's around the corner. We could be next to be laid off.
For some, real security can only come from being in control
of their own destiny and that means working for oneself.
As a self-employed person you need a broad skill set. Not
only must you be able to perform the main skills inherent
in the business you have chosen for yourself, you must also
be able to handle the myriad other jobs around the office
that your secretary would otherwise do for you if you were
in the paid workforce. This forces you to be something of
a generalist which in turn dissipates your focus from the
central core of your business. When you work for someone
else, you are generally more able to specialize in a particular
area and, over time, develop something of an expert status,
increasing your marketability in the workforce.
In the corporate work-world, you have a certain professional
image to uphold. When you work for yourself, at least
on days when you don't have to meet with clients, you can
wear what you want, even your rattiest sweats, if that's what
you feel most comfortable in.
Some people think that leaving the paid workforce to work
for themselves from home means they will work less hard
and fewer hours. The reality is usually the opposite. In the
early days of a home business you will probably find you
need to work harder and longer, only to make less money
than you did in your paid job. This will get easier over time
but in the early days, expect to have your nose to the
Who's going to provide for your retirement when you work
for yourself? You've got it, you! No more employer-funded
pension plans for you.
When you work for someone else you get paid like clockwork,
even if your employer hasn't yet been paid what he or she
is owed from clients. When you work for yourself, whether
your client pays often determines whether YOU get paid. So
you need to be diligent in following up slow payers and take
appropriate action in response to non-payers.
When you work for yourself you can kiss goodbye the
endless office politics that used to drive you crazy. On the
other hand, you're also out of the loop.
ISOLATION AND LONELINESS
Along with being out of the loop comes the isolation monster.
Although the early days of your home business may be an
absolute luxury compared to the rigors of your corporate work-
life, over time you may find you start missing the office
politics and lunches with colleagues.
OUT OF THE LOOP
Once you leave the corporate life for home-business
entrepreneurship you may find it hard to get back in, if that's
what you decide to do. Many employers will label you as
"not corporate enough" if you've been out of the workforce for
any length of time. They may also, however unfairly, figure
that you couldn't make it in the corporate world which is
why you left to start your own home business and now that's
These are just a few of the issues you need to think about
when deciding whether working for yourself or working for
someone else is right for you. It's crucial to be brutally
honest with yourself about your particular strengths and
weaknesses, as well as your emotional and mental make-up.
A good way to dip your toe in is to consider moonlighting -
starting a home business on the side while you continue to
work your full-time job.
Sure, this will mean some both-ends candle burning but better
that than making the break and then finding out you made a
mistake. Another alternative that may work well for some is
to telecommute. Work for someone else out of the comfort
of your own home. These types of positions are pretty rare
and usually can only be negotiated by long-term employees
in positions that lend themselves to individual, as opposed to
team, projects. But don't let that discourage you. If you
have particular expertise in a field that lends itself well to
telecommuting and your boss won't go for it, start looking
around for companies that will hire you on this basis.
This article touches on some of the major areas that you
need to think about when deciding whether the self-
employed or employed option is best for you. For a more
detailed treatment of these and other issues, check out
the following articles at http://www.ahbbo.com/articles.html :
=> And Never the Twain Should Meet
=> Checklist for the New Home-Based Business
=> Entrepreneurship: Do You Have What It Takes?
=> Flipping the Switch: How to Turn Off Your Business and
and Turn On Your Life
=> Focus Your Light
=> Getting Paid ... Minimizing Bad Debts in Your Home Business
=> How the 9 to 5 Grind Could Be Costing You More Than You
=> Look Before You Leap ... Is a Home-Based Business REALLY
=> Moonlighting's Greatest Challenge ... How to Beat the Time
=> One Foot in Each Camp
=> Overcoming Isolation in Your Home Business
=> Overcoming Procrastination in Your Home Business
=> Putting Theory Into Practice ... A Personal Perspective
=> So You Want to Be a Freelancer
=> The 9 to 5 Home-Business Tug O'War
=> The Telecommuting Alternative.
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Elena Fawkner is editor of Home-Based Business Online.
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Sunday, 25-Sep-2016 00:38:40 CDT