Many of the people I encounter online who write and/or blog about work seem to be some variation of one or more of the following: entrepreneur, self-employed service or talent provider, business owner, or independent contractor. I don't happen to be any one of those, and I've really never been sure that I would want to. I don't know that I have the kind of ambition or drive that it seems would be necessary to be successful in that arena.
Sure, I understand the whole idea of "you'll never get rich working for somebody else." I also realize that you can't fire yourself if you're the boss, so the job security is better. I'm also in a profession that's full of self-employed service providers, including my own father prior to his retirement...and I'm pretty sure his struggles with keeping his own accounting practice going have influenced me not to go that route. And then there's the question of what I would actually do with my own business if I stepped outside the accounting box, and I haven't figured that part out.
The upshot is that for the last twenty years, I've worked for "somebody else" (actually, several somebody elses), and I think that it's a work style that still has a lot going for it. These are some of the things that I think recommend it:
- Paid benefits. This one may matter more than the paycheck. Paid vacation time, sick leave for yourself and to care for your family members, and paid holidays. While health-care reform is seriously needed (and a topic for another conversation), if your employer offers health insurance, even though most plans require employees to pay part of the premium nowadays, it's probably still better and cheaper than what you'd be able to get on your own thanks to those group rates. You can lay the foundation for paying yourself later by participating in your employer's 401(k) retirement plan - and if they match contributions, it doesn't make sense not to get in on that. And depending on the size, resources, and policies of the company, there could be many others.
- Steady income. Spending your whole work life with one employer is pretty much a thing of the past, and "job security" is a much less certain concept than it used to be. But unless your employer's on shaky ground financially, you can probably rely on a paycheck of roughly the same amount on a regular frequency.
- Coworkers, peers, and the potential for built-in mentors. Granted, sometimes they'll drive you crazy, and even if most of them may never really be your friends, you probably spend more time with them than you do with your family, and at least some of them will truly understand what you do all day long. You're making connections all the time without really having to exert yourself to find them.
- Flexibility and opportunities for growth. While there's still plenty of room for improvement at many companies as far as the "family-friendly" aspects of "flexibility" go, when the term is defined in other ways, there can be many chances to learn new skills and build talents in a setting that's less risky than flying on your own.
- Balance. Again, it's all in the definition. It can be easier to draw lines between work and the rest of your life when you're an employee and can leave work at work. Of course, your actual ability to do that at any given time varies with a lot of things - corporate culture, your own job description and level on the org chart, your deadlines - but there's more potential for it when everything doesn't rest completely on you.