Working for yourself or 7:30am to 5:00pm for others?

You have worked for this organisation for a number of years and this question constantly comes to mind: Which is better, working for yourself or working the 7:30am to 5:00pm shift for your employer?

In all sincerity, many self-employed people wouldn’t be dragged back into a salaried job unless they had no other choice. And by contrast, many employed people like the comfort of knowing they have a fixed schedule, specific hours to work and an assurance of a salary at the end of the month.

So, which position would you rather be in? There really isn’t a right or wrong answer here — it’s really all about your personal preference and point of view. In fact, many people fall victim to the “grass is greener” syndrome and end up wishing they were doing whatever it is they are not doing at the moment.

So an employee may hope to become an entrepreneur with his own venture someday, while the struggling businessman who is besieged by financial problems may pray for a full time job. Sometimes, it can be hard to make up our minds!

So how about comparing these two approaches to earning a living to see which you find more suitable for your situation? It would be worthwhile to look at factors one needs to consider when comparing full time work to self-employment. I will largely be drawing on my own experiences having tested both worlds and of course on my extensive reading in this area.

First, when you have a job, you have a specific number of hours you are required to work. There are always exceptions, of course, but for the most part, you have a fixed schedule. A typical work schedule runs in Malawi runs from 7:30am to 5:00pm. Those are the hours you work and come 5:00pm, you usually drop everything and go home. You couldn’t do that if you were self employed: not all the time anyway.

On the other hand, if you’re your own boss, you may tend to work harder than when you’ve got a job. But the good news is that you’re able to choose your own hours, so if you want to work later in the day and into the evening, you can do so. You can’t have such a flexible schedule if you work for a traditional, less progressive employer.

Also, regarding overtime: if you are employed, you may get overtime payments for working longer hours (or extra hours). As a self-employed worker, you’ll be paying yourself an income (out of your business earnings), so your “bonuses” are tied to your revenues, not to your hours worked.

Next week, we will look at the second factor to consider when comparing full time work and self employment.

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