What Is the Difference Between Owning a Business and a Job?

Everyone starts their contractor journey thinking about owning a business, but there’s a surprising amount of grey area on what that means. Here’s how to know if you own a business or if you own a job.

When most people decide to start a business as a contractor, their perception of this idea isn’t exactly correct. It’s a common misconception because this distinction isn’t talked about very much – do you own a business… or a job?

It’s food for thought, isn’t it? I hadn’t given this distinction much thought before, but now it actually makes a lot of sense, and thus, I found it important to emphasize it here.

This may not change your desire to start a business, but it will ensure you start with the right mindset. 

What’s the difference between owning a business and a job?

Well, this might seem weird at first, but it’s very simple when you think about it.

When you own a business and you decide to take a day off, your business would keep going without you. If you own a job, that doesn’t happen.

A business is a machine that functions by itself because it’s moved by people with jobs. 

As you can imagine, most contractors – especially early on – simply own a job. 

Mind you, that’s not a bad thing – it’s simply an observation. Our goal here is to make this distinction clear so that we can better discuss how to own a business if that’s your intention.

Owning a job has advantages. You can make your schedule, you don’t have to ask anyone's permission to get going, and you can control the pace of your investments. It’s a good deal.

However, if you don’t start hiring and getting this machine working by itself, you will simply own your job, never a business.

How can you test this?

To figure out if you own a business or a job, it’s a very simple exercise: imagine you took a break from work for a week.

Would things keep moving fine without you, or would they grind to a halt?

Most contractors will surely find themselves on the later side of the equation. If you don’t go to work, work simply doesn’t happen. In the early stages of your career, you will find yourself wearing all the hats, and if you stop for a single day, that’s one day your business didn’t go forward.

It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m not saying this to stress you out. 

From here, you have two choices: start working towards hiring and owning a business, or build a team that allows you to do your job well.

Make your choice

Maybe you like the part where you do fieldwork – maybe that’s your favorite part! But if you own the business and everyone is working for you, you would lose that part of the job.

It’s time to make a choice: do you want to own a business?

If you do, then you have a plan now. Work towards building an efficient team that you can call your own, while you manage things from the background. You call the shots and get people moving, it’s the dream.

But assuming you like your job and want to keep it, you could work towards hiring help. Get a team to wear the hats you can’t wear, so that you have time to get the rest of the work done. 

For example, hire a finances pro, a secretary, and at least one person to work on your online marketing. Now you guide them towards your goals and that leaves you time to get to work!

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