June 16, 2021 7:56 pm

Nine-to-five is not the only way to make a living

When I started thinking about an article comparing being an employee to a business owner, I thought about Dolly Parton’s movie and theme song “nine to five” and how it might apply to such an article. So I pulled up the lyrics and thought, WOW!!  This song really says it all. Here are a couple of verses, so you get the idea:

Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living
Barely getting by, it’s all taking and no giving
They just use your mind, and they never give you credit
It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it

Working 5 to 9, you’ve got passion and a vision
‘Cause it’s hustlin’ time, a whole new way to make a livin’
Gonna change your life, do somethin’ that gives it meanin’
With a website that is worthy of your dreamin’

So let me ask you this. Are you in a dead-end job? Does the routine bore you? Do you feel unappreciated and used, if not abused? Do you get up in the morning and wonder day-in and day-out, “What am I doing here and why?” Do you look forward to Fridays and dread Mondays? Do you ask yourself “Why am I working so hard to make money for someone else?” If you’ve asked yourself any of these and/or other related questions maybe it’s time to take a serious look at becoming a business owner. 

Now to be fair, there are a lot of good jobs out there. I know people that absolutely love their jobs and make a great living. They have employers that appreciate them and treat them well. If these thoughts describe you, then you can stop reading. No sense in spoiling a good thing. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something better, then keep reading.

There are many things that we can compare when looking at working for yourself vs. working for someone else.  As a franchise business owner (franchisee), the franchise agreement and franchisor may limit these areas. The idea behind the franchise model is that the benefits of established systems and processes far outweigh the limitations. In the franchise model, however, you have a lot more autonomy than you would as an employee. Starting a business from scratch or buying an existing privately-held business has the potential to give you the ultimate in each area. Keep this in mind as you look consider these facts:

Income potential

When working for someone else, your income is limited. You are making a salary or hourly wage usually tied to your experience, education, performance, etc. Often there is a cap to what you can make, plus you’re making money for someone else in one way or another. If you are not producing more income and/or saving more money for your employer than they pay you, they won’t need you anymore.

As a business owner, your potential income is much greater than a salary or wage determined by someone else. Your work produces money for you — not for someone else. As a franchise owner, you will pay a royalty to the franchise, but the greater part of your revenue goes to your business. There are also legal tax advantages that could benefit you.  

Making business decisions

When you are an employee, no matter the level, there will always be someone higher up the chain of command that has more say than you do. Unless your “name is on the door,” so to speak, you will have someone to answer to. That is simply the nature of being an employee.

As a business owner, there is a big difference. You get to make the decisions. You are the authority. You are the boss. In franchising, the ultimate authority is outlined by the franchise agreement. You will see this document before ever getting into the franchise. To have complete independence, starting your own business or buying an existing privately-held business is likely a better route for you.

Work-life balance

As an employee, you are usually told when to work. You may have little or no flexibility. Even if you have some flexibility, you are generally told within guidelines when to work and how many hours are expected.

When you’re the owner, you determine your work hours. Remember, as the owner, you will likely work more than 40 hours a week, especially in the first few years. You can, however, flex your hours around, have your employees cover for you if needed, etc. The point is, you decide when and how much you work, not your boss.

Stable income and security

As an employee, your job is only as secure as your employer deems. Even if the business is doing well, you can lose your job for seemingly no reason. Employment stability, security, and loyalty are things of the past.  Ultimately, your employment is in control of someone else.

As a business owner, your security is based directly on your hard work, leadership, vision, determination, etc.  There are things outside your control that can impact your security, as we’ve seen from the pandemic, but no one else within the company controls it. No one is going to decide that it’s time for you to go.

Creative control

In most employment situations, you are trained to do your job and expected to carry it out as trained. Within the guidelines, there may be some wiggle room for creativity, but it is limited. Good ideas are not always welcomed by employers.

The ability to express creativity is often one of the hallmarks of being a business owner. The opportunity to try new things is within your control. Within the franchise model, this will be somewhat limited. The franchisor knows what works and what doesn’t, which is why people invest in franchises in the first place. Newer or emerging franchises often have a lot more flexibility than more established brands, just by the nature of their newness.   

Working for yourself vs. working for someone else

Will you be more motivated by helping someone else make money and grow their business or more motivated by making money for and growing your own business? I think we all know the answer to this question.

Let me conclude with a couple of more lines from Dolly’s song that I think summarizes these thoughts:

Well you got dreams and you know they matter
Be your own boss, climb your own ladder  

Jim Gleason