Entrepreneur vs. Employee: Which Career Path is Right For You?

July 17, 2019

My dad was an entrepreneur.  My mom worked for companies.

Except for a short period of time as a young man, my dad never worked for a company.  He was a barber and owned his barber shop until the day he retired. He also owned a small art gallery and picture framing business.

My mom always worked for companies.  When I was in grade school, she went to work for one of the large railroad companies.  Later in life she became a hospice nurse. She never started or owned a business.

Growing up, I was able to learn very important differences between the two very different career choices each of my parents made. I also found not one choice is better than the other. No two people are the same and everyone possesses different desires and needs. It’s all about finding what works best for you. Below are some of the main differences I learned from my parents about being an entrepreneur and employee.

  • Pay. My dad was never certain how much money he would make in a week, a month, or a year.  My mom had a consistent salary that never changed other than yearly raises or a promotion.
  • Insurance. My mom was always provided the health insurance. My dad relied upon her having health insurance.
  • Taxes. Taxes were taken out of each of my mom’s checks.  My dad paid quarterly income taxes, and dreaded April 15th when he had to make his largest payment.
  • Interactions. Everyone needs haircuts. My dad would interact with a variety of different people every day.  My mom typically worked in the same office with the same group of people every day.
  • Work Hours. My dad set his work hours. My mom’s hours were set for her.  My dad worked a lot more hours than my mom, but never seemed to mind doing so.  My mom enjoyed having her  time away from work to pursue other interests and hobbies.
  • Financial Security. There were times when my dad’s business was slow. My mom’s consistent salary came in handy.  There were also times when my dad’s business was good. It was one of these periods that allowed my mom to go back to school and get a nursing degree in mid-life.
  • Bosses. My mom had bosses. I remember the days when she would come home and vent about stress her bosses caused. My dad never had a boss. He had employees and customers.
  • Resources. My dad paid rent for his shop. He bought all his own equipment and supplies. My mom was given an office, a desk and all the supplies she needed.

I find each path to have its own advantages and disadvantages. Watching my parent’s careers, I had a unique insight to the pros and cons of both being an entrepreneur and working for others. I also observed how each was better suited to their own situation. Therefore, I hesitate to tell any person that entrepreneurship or corporate employment is more or less desirable than the other.

Both of my parents have passed now. But if you were to ask my dad, he would say he could not imagine having ever been anything but an entrepreneur. My mother would tell you she would could only ever see herself working for companies.  Most importantly, they would both say they had wonderful careers with no regrets.

Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts and via his blog.

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To Be or Not to Be An Entrepreneur

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