Why work at a company vs for yourself?

I hear people, often millennials talking about wanting to strike out on their own to work for themselves. Most of the time the reason they site for wanting to do this is because they would rather work on behalf of something they can be passionate about, versus simply collecting a paycheck. When I hear this, I generally think about two things. The first is will they actually have what it takes to do this and be successful? The second thing is, have they thought through what they are saying to a really deep level of understanding and appreciating what they are bargaining for?

The benefits of working for a company can really stack up much higher in the positive column than you might think they would, especially if you start to list them. The biggest positive attribute of working for a company is a consistent paycheck. This would be followed by your healthcare/dental coverage being paid for at some percentage level, paid vacation, sick days, holidays and potentially other company benefits such as tuition reimbursement, matching 401K plans and daycare services to name a few.

Other benefits such as daily social interaction if you are in an office, generally free coffee or snacks at most mid to large size companies, and access to a wealth of experience and other resources you take for granted such as printers, the IT staff and communication services all just steps away from where you are sitting.

When you work for a company, they are also taking care of a myriad of other business services you might not be taking into consideration on a daily basis: Sales, Marketing, Accounting, Human Resources, Operations to name a few of the foundational company departments which make a business run. Legal and contract work is sometimes taken care of in-house, but is sometimes outsourced depending on the requirements of the company. Other big ticket items such as the rent, general office operating expenses, sales tax and benefits payments are also overlooked when peering through the vail of striking out on your own.

The first advice I give to people who want to strike out on their own, is to sit down and draft a business plan. It does not have to be an incredibly in-depth business plan, but it should cover the essential elements of what it will take to start up and run the company, with the goal of reaching profitability within a set amount of time.

The second piece of advice I give is to have the person make sure they have at least one year, possibly two, of income reserved before striking out on their own. You could split the difference and have 18 months of cash on hand, but this will be different funding than what you will utilize as operating capital to run the business. You will need to determine if you are going to borrow money to start up your business, or whether you will be self-funding it. Generally, when you self-fund it, you can do so via either family and friends investing in you, or via crowd funding sourcing options such as Fundable which is exclusively for business, Indiegogo a global fundraising site, Plum Alley which is specifically for women and Tilt which has fees cheaper than most other crowdfunding sites. 

Providing you have a solid business plan, a product or service which solves a problem and that people truly need and will pay for; I’m going to assume you have done the research to support your business concept. You will also need access to business advisors who can help you navigate through the start-up obstacles you will encounter, and enough cash to help fund your business.

Now, I challenge you to do one last thing. Honestly think long and hard about your answers to the questions below. If after reviewing your responses you are still game for striking out on your own, then I wish you the best of luck and success in your new adventure. Here are the questions: 

  • What is really driving me to want to strike out on my own?
  • Have others told me I should become an entrepreneur, or does the appeal of this option seem irresistible and something I am 100% compelled to try and be successful, or potentially fail at, and be okay with doing so?
  • Do I have a backup plan or a timeframe in mind in terms of how long I can “test” whether this concept of being a business owner is the right option for me at this present time?
  • What is my definition of success as defined and outlined in my business plan? Is it realistic?
  • Is this something I have always wanted to really do, and believe this point in time is the best time to carry out my plan?
  • What will the impact of my decision to strike out on my own have on others who depend on me either emotionally or financially?
  • Am I prepared and have I ever really had to truly sacrifice just about everything I own or have worked for to make being a business owner a reality?
  • How risk adverse am I on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most risk adverse?

If after reviewing your responses to the questions above you are still convinced you want to start-up your business, then roll up your sleeves, dig into the process and go for it!

Kathleen E. R. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Performance Strategist and CEO of Market Me Too.She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Finder Coachauthor of two business books (e.g.,  Wisdom Whisperer, Evolve! With the Wisdom Whisperer), and is a well-respected motivational and social influencer with a global following from her numerous speaking, print, radio and television media appearances. She also is the creator and Host of a TV Show and Podcast called Murf & E Unfiltered – Zero BS Biz Talk.

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