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        Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other

        © 2013 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.

        COMMUTING

        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.

        CHILDREN

        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
        business undisturbed.

        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
        regimen.

        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.

        WORKING HOURS

        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
        yourself.

        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
        bad.

        STATUS

        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.

        BOUNDARIES

        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.

        PERSONAL DISCIPLINE

        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.

        CASH FLOW

        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.

        EXPENSES

        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.

        BENEFITS

        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.

        RISK MANAGEMENT

        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
        this expenditure.

        LICENSES

        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.

        VACATIONS

        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.

        TAX

        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

        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.

        SKILL SET

        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.

        WARDROBE

        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.

        HARD WORK

        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
        grindstone.

        RETIREMENT PLAN

        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.

        GETTING PAID

        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.

        OFFICE POLITICS

        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
        failed too. 


        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.

        FURTHER READING

        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.shelteredturtle.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
             Earn
        => Look Before You Leap ... Is a Home-Based Business REALLY
             For You?
        => Moonlighting's Greatest Challenge ... How to Beat the Time
             Crunch
        => 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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