The Voluntary Life: 106 Self-Employed Vs Business Owner

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3 May 2013

106 Self-Employed Vs Business Owner

This episode is about the pros and cons of being self-employed vs being a business owner. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, but mixing the two does not work well.

In the self-employed/freelancer model, you sell your time, cover your own expenses and keep all profit. This works best when you have a valuable skill and lots of industry contacts, as you are able to undercut bigger companies on price but keep your overheads low. If it works, you get the advantage of a lot of flexibility to work or take time off.  The disadvantage is that you are dependent on work for income, so there is much less financial freedom in the long term. You don't build up value in business itself (nobody wants to buy a job) and it can be hard to keep your overheads low for longer (as you may need to start investing in marketing, new equipment etc). So it's a vulnerable model over the long term.

The business owner model is the idea to create a value generating machine. The focus here is on developing standards and procedures to make yourself (the founder) unnecessary to the running of the business as quickly as possible. The advantage of this model is that you create an income stream and a source of value (the business itself) that you can sell in the future, or live from as passive income. This has the potential for much greater financial freedom as well as the freedom to step away from the work in the longer term. The disadvantage is that you have more risk in the initial period, as businesses take more investment. You also get much less free time in the initial period, as the startup phase of a business is more stressful than freelance work.

Either model can give you a lot of benefits, but be careful not to get stuck between these two models- you can end up with all the stress and none of the benefits. If that happens, it isn't creating a business, it's creating a job (and the worst kind of job, because you can't stop doing it). I hope this podcast will help you be conscious of which model you are adopting and to move more clearly to one or the other if you are currently stuck in-between.

Show Notes:
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber
The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

Podcast Episode

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