How to Tell if Your Business is Actually Just a Job

Why did you start your business?  Many business owners do it for freedom and to be in charge of your own destiny. But what happens if you are sick and have to be out for a week? Do you stop earning income? Does your work pile up? These are the questions someone asked me a couple of years back that really got me thinking. At the time, I had just started Web Chimpy and was handling 90% of the fulfillment myself. That was when someone said to me “you’re not an entrepreneur, you just own your job.” Initially, I was defensive. I thought “of course I’m a business owner, what could he mean?” But eventually, it hit me and I realized the difference between being self-employed and truly owning a business.

The terms self-employed and business owner are often treated as the same, but they are two very different things. A self-employed person takes less risk short-term, but can actually have more risk in the long run. A self-employed person’s income is dependent on one thing: their ability to work. If they lose their ability to work, they lose their income. They are more like a freelancer, who sells their time and skillset in exchange for a set amount. They typically take on many roles, including fulfillment, management, accountant, customer support, and pretty much everything else that is required for a business to run.

Building a business is a completely different task altogether. A true business owner may delegate as much of the day-to-day operations as possible, allowing them to focus on how they can build and grow their business. A well-adjusted entrepreneur’s primary focus is growth. He or she will only be involved in the day-to-day / fulfillment when absolutely necessary. Being a business owner offers freedom because you are no longer relying on your ability to work to earn an income. If you get sick or go on vacation, you still get paid.

To put it simply, a business owner does not trade their time for money. Trading time for money is a characteristic of employees and self-employed. Having your income independent from the hours you work is one of the most empowering things you can do for your business.

Now t0 clarify is nothing wrong with being self-employed or, as some put it, “owning your own job.” Many people prefer the life of the self-employed because of its simplicity. You may have to do the work yourself, but you enjoy higher profit margins, lower overhead, and it can be less stressful.

So without further ado, here are 6 signs that you have built a job for yourself instead of a business:

1. You Have to Work Every Day

Do you ever feel unmotivated on certain days? You’re not alone in this situation. However, bills will keep on coming and you need to get paid. As a self-employed person, you have to go to work every day or things just will not get done.

As a business owner, the story is a lot different. While most business owners work a lot, their business isn’t going to stop running if they don’t. A business owner has the proper systems in place so that everything continues working when they step out.

2. You Charge By the Hour for Your Services

As a self-employed individual, you have the potential to grow your income. But eventually, you are going to reach a cap. After all, you can only work so many hours in a week before you get burnt out. Let’s say you are earning $80,000 per year as a consultant and working 50 hours on client needs and administrative work. At this stage, you have almost no room to grow. Your only options are to either work an unsustainable amount of hours or start delegating.

As a business owner, there’s no limit to how much you can earn. Your business is in a place where you can scale up as much as you want. It will require hard work in the beginning and growing pains are inevitable, but at the end of the day, it’s the freedom and control over your income that is most appealing to many entrepreneurs.

3. Taking Time Off Causes Work to Pile Up

While you may be able to take time off occasionally, it is usually a challenge for the self-employed. For the self-employed, time off usually means working overtime for two weeks to prepare for the week off. It often means a huge workload on your desk when you return.

As a self-employed person, you probably need to check on your tasks right away or even work during vacations to avoid stressing yourself out. When you own your business, you can pause for weeks or even months without having to stress out about it.

As a business owner, you can delegate to a manager or employees. The work of an entrepreneur is mostly not time-sensitive and can wait without causing too many issues. While it’s usually not realistic to build a completely passive business, it is definitely possible to get your “day-to-day” work down to a very small amount.

4. You Handle Many (Or All) Of the Responsibilities Yourself

Being self-employed doesn’t always equate to doing what you love. A self-employed person usually is a one-person show. As a self-employed person, it is likely that you will handle every job there is – including sales, marketing, customer service, and accounting – all by yourself.

As an entrepreneur, you can choose what you work on. You can double down on your strengths and delegate your weaknesses. Most business owners I work with have a separate accountant, customer service person(s), technicians who handle fulfillment, and even a manager.

5. No Decisions Can be Made Without You

Being on the self-employed team means you’ll also be the sole decision-maker for your venture. This is also true with very small businesses. A business that has systems and processes in place, you will not have to be on guard round-the-clock. This is a bit of a gray area since every business is different, and there is no way to eliminate the decision making the role of the owner completely.

However, having a team that is competent in decision making can help immensely. Your employees will no longer have to contact you every time a small decision needs to be made. Of course, the important decisions will need to be made by you, but the unimportant ones can be taken care of without you.

6. You Spend Most of Your Time on Fulfillment & Customer Service

When you are self-employed, you don’t have much time to spend on growth strategies and scaling your business. As many have said in the past, you are working “in” your business when you should be working “on” your business.

As an entrepreneur, you can spend time focusing on business development and growth since you’re not stuck on daily tasks.

When you have team members you can rely upon, you can devote your skills, time, and energy in seeing which areas you can improve upon or explore further. You only have to get involved with fulfilling customer orders if there is a major issue that needs correcting.

Why Do Businesses Fail?

The reasons why small businesses fail vary widely. Most of the time, it’s poor planning and lack of effort. However, this can be avoided with proper planning and the right manager / team.

Thinking that you can handle everything on your own impedes business growth. While it’s important to be optimistic, you also need to learn to trust other people.

You don’t have to take charge of all aspects of your business all the time. One of the things that I have worked on is letting go and understanding that not everything has to be perfect by MY standards, because my standards are not always the best. There are plenty of people in this world just as capable as me. By working with the right individuals, you can concentrate on more important issues and leave the rest to your team members.

Proper management helps your business stay afloat. From finance, customer service, marketing, human resources, and the list goes on, you need competent people on your team. So don’t be afraid to hire employees or outsource talents.

Make sure as well that business processes are streamlined. When every employee has a clear understanding of how crucial their role is, how the business operates, and how departments are interconnected, they will be more motivated to contribute their hard work.

They know their worth in the organization. And they also see you’re doing your best to make things easier for them.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Web Chimpy helps small businesses outsource their marketing and generate real, measurable growth. Our atlanta based seo and internet marketing company helps business market online and grow.


Chris LaMorte

Chris LaMorte

Chris LaMorte is a Digital Marketing and User Experience expert. He started in the industry when he was 13 years old and has been obsessed with online marketing ever since. In 2015, he founded Web Chimpy. Since then, Chris LaMorte has served over 100 clients and gotten great results that have helped businesses grow.


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