Working at home vs. self-employment

Working at home vs. Self-Employment

Image courtesy of and Stuart Miles

Many people come to me wanting to escape the 9-5, but don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.  They want to “work at home” or be “self-employed”, but don’t understand the intricacies of how either would work. Many people don’t understand there is a definite difference between the two terms.

Ultimately, what we all want is to make money doing something we like that allows us to have a life out of work…right? So, with that in mind, I present the three phases of working independently, and what it really means to “work at home” or be “self-employed.”

Work at (or from) Home Jobs: Just say NO!
Sure, it sounds great: a company will actually pay you to stay at home and do their grunt work for them. In the industry, this is known as telecommuting.

Examples: Phone Surveys, Medical Transcription, Recruiting, etc. Work from home jobs may require you to go out into the world and get things done (like Mystery Shopping or Merchandising) but you have a home-base, not an actual office to return to.

Unfortunately with this type of work, if you don’t work, you won’t get paid! Work at/from home jobs are nice if you just want some income to get by. They can be flexible and sometimes you just set your own independent schedule. Many stay-at-home parents like it. But this type of work is really no different than a regular job. It’s just that you get to do it at home.

Self Employment: Just say Maybe?
What does it mean to be self employed? Well, somehow, through your own talents and devices, you create a business doing something that you’re good at. You don’t have a boss. You own your business.

Examples include being a massage therapist, being a business consultant, opening your own web-design studio, etc.

Now, if you can create a system where it either runs itself in your absence, or you can hire others to run it for you, you will be on your way to creating a self-sustaining business. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case since self-employed people are the only ones who know everything about their business.  They have a hard time letting others take control, and as such, they’re reluctant to leverage time and knowledge.  In most cases, Self-Employed people just own their own jobs.  And if they don’t work…they don’t get paid. While the income and flexibility is generally greater than a work at home job, it still isn’t the ideal way to earn an income.

Building a business: That’s the way to wealth!

Most people create wealth through residual and passive income. Do the work once, and you get paid over and over and over. Build a business that can run in your absence and you’ll be well on your way to have full control over your working life.

There are many ways to do create passive and residual income: writing a book, creating music, licensing art, or software all will give you royalties off of your one-time effort.

For most of us, Home-Based Businesses are the quickest way to achieve residual income. This is different than the self-employment option above, because these oppourtunities are from established companies who need representatives.  I call this “mini-franchising“.   A large franchise would be something like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Gold’s Gym, etc.  Most of us can’t afford the $500,000 franchise fee (with additional monthly and/or annual dues), so we turn to companies like Tupperware, Avon, and Legal Shield to set up a business that offers residual income. The system is already in place, all you need to do is follow it. Usually mini-franchises have some sort of recruiting incentive. IE: if you find someone interested in doing the same business, you’ll get a percentage of their sales.

There are many other ways to create residual income, and I encourage you to try some different things out on your path to financial freedom.  Just don’t forget: Even if you have a work at home job or are self-employed, you are not immune to various economic conditions.  The best way to achieve financial freedom is to have several residual income streams.  That way, if one dries up, you’ll have others to fall back on!


 Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company.  Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!

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