The Entrepreneur’s Journey

Are You a Business Owner? Or Are You Self-Employed?

Are You a Business Owner? Or Are You Self-Employed?

There’s a lot of pride that rings through any business owner’s voice. 

After all, calling one’s own shots gives you some swagger. I can verify this personally as a long-time business owner myself.

And why not have a little extra hop in your step? No matter your stage of the ownership journey, you’ve at least taken the first step toward freedom and making your own way. It’s the American Dream. That’s worth being excited over.

But now, with the well-deserved pat on the back out the way, it’s time to delve into the hard questions, resulting in even harder truths.

Self-reflection is part of any entrepreneur’s path to success. Even if we must confront issues that scare us. It’s up to any business owner to take these insights and explorations of our cicumstances and use them to develop and improve upon missteps.

So, I’ll then ask you one of the most critical-yet-daunting questions of all: are you a business owner, or are you only self-employed? 

Your answer is the difference between the outright freedom of ownership versus being stuck with just another, more demanding job. Fortunately, even if you’ve fallen into the “self-employed” category, this article will help you course-correct toward being an authentic owner.

Even High Revenue Business Owners Might Still Be Working a Job

For business owners just getting off the ground, you’ll be powered by the motivation of working for yourself. Yet, because everything is so fresh, you might still feel a little bit like a worker bee and not so much like a rockstar entrepreneur. You’re just learning about your business and what it takes to run things. As such, hiccups and snafus are guaranteed, and it’ll be tough to avoid the initial grind.

While experiencing those growing pains, you must keep the principles of genuine ownership top of mind and use them as a guiding force.

Otherwise, as you grow your customer base, you’ll eventually fall into the same trap as far too many people who’ve branched out on their own. You’ll fool yourself into thinking you’re no longer just a worker bee because of how much money is coming in. A steadily growing bank account can create the illusion of freedom.

That you’re earning seven figures doesn’t mean you aren’t shackled by employment. It’s just self-employment. Because working 80 hours to rake in that kind of cash doesn’t spell freedom.

Being a bonafide owner means you don’t need to be around your business all the time. You should have time for other things integral to your quality of life; otherwise, it defeats the purpose of ownership.

Self Employment is Self-Defeating

You’re no longer working for “the man.” But that accomplishment isn’t enough on its own–especially when you’re working up to 80-hour weeks. 

Again, those 80 hours could rake in some serious profits. Still, you’re chasing your tail, anxious that your entire operation will crumble if you aren’t hustling 24/7. At that point, you may as well find a job where you can work a mere 40 hours per week without the walls crumbling in.

Despite the money you might be earning, there’s no happy ending when the work itself won’t end. 

I get why it happens. Shows like Mad Men romanticize living (and dying) at the office. We often want to see ourselves as unstoppable forces and the hardest working person in every room. Unfortunately, burning the candle on both ends is seen as a badge of honor, when really, it isn’t intelligent or efficient.

Imagine you’re driving to your friend’s house, and there’s a route that makes it into a 5-minute car ride.

But you choose to take the highway with all the traffic, and the trip ends up taking an hour.

In both scenarios, you end up at the same place–yet you traveled the route that took up more of your time and cost more gas money. That’s what you’re doing when you’re self-employed instead of being a business owner. 

Ownership Versus Self Employment

Below are some signs you’re self-employed instead of a business owner:

  • Jobs need you to show up to earn. Businesses keep pulling in revenue with or without you.

  • Employment often has you too reliant on one customer to the point of molding your approach entirely to their needs. Businesses serve enough customers and clients to form a templated system that satisfies a broader consumer market.

  • When you’re an employee, people associate your “company” with you and see everything as a reflection of you. A business is its own separate entity, with a distinct brand identity that’s outgrown its founder(s).

  • In working a job, your own personal skillset and expertise are relied upon. A business involves a series of self-sustaining processes that serve clients. An individual employee is a cog in the machine.

  • People lose their jobs for taking too much time off since they’re needed to complete various processes that keep the company functioning. Whereas a business owner can come and go because the employees handle the operational nuts and bolts. 

  • Jobs require you to work hard at earning money, especially to impress higher-ups. With ownership, you are the higher up. So your only goal is to work smartly and efficiently.

  • As a worker bee, you’ve got to perform a lot of the grunt work and solve the immediate problems. An owner’s focus is more big-picture, requiring that their team does the everyday problem-solving and grafting.

  • Being stuck in a job often means your clients have direct access to you through your mobile phone number. Owners have boundaries with clients and are available when they wish to be.

Keep in mind, these aren’t exact rules, and none of us are perfect. For example, some owners are more accessible for clients than others. But if you’ve fallen into more than one of these traps that make you more employee than business-owner, it’s time to reassess the way you’re doing things. 

The Importance of Letting Go

In many ways, your business is like a baby. 

No doubt, during infancy, you have to be very hands-on, given the fragile nature of this stage.

Much like a child, though, as your company grows, you’ve got to back off, or else you risk becoming an overly coddling helicopter parent. In business terms, that’s calledmicro-managing, something you should avoid at all costs. 

Just like how children start living their own lives before you know it, so do businesses.

Letting your business grow, spread its wings, and become its own living-breathing entity is essential to being a bonafide owner. Naturally, this leads to a conversation about delegation–one of the most challenging aspects of business ownership.

You Can Only Delegate Once You Leave Your Comfort Zone

Now I want you to ask yourself, “do I get fooled by the illusion of productivity?”

Let me elaborate:

We all have our wheelhouse–tasks we feel comfortable with and can do all day. Completing these tasks provides a dopamine hit and gives us instant gratification.

This is dangerous as a business owner.

Take a writer who’s branched out on their own. They could probably complete ad scripts, create marketing blogs, and even write white papers 60 hours per week and feel accomplished. But what about business development? What about sales? Or customer service?

Eventually, the value of the writer’s writing evaporates into nothing. They’ve neglected the necessary tasks that will help their business grow. 

Here’s how to avoid this trap:

First, you need to establish what you must stop doing, starting with working on low-value tasks. Instead, a business owner must stay on top of big-picture issues, specifically how to keep growing your company. 

Leaving your comfort zone will be challenging, understandably. So, you must prioritize overcoming those learning curves and bridging those gaps.

This could mean outsourcing work. But you might not yet be at the financial point where that’s a viable option. The key, however, is deciding what’s most crucial to business growth and creating a plan that keeps your efforts revolving around those high-value tasks.  

Entering the Delegation Zone

Once owners have done the calculations and put in the research to prioritize value-based tasks, it’s time to delegate strategically.

Here’s where you’ll truly set yourself free and enjoy the fruits of business ownership. This process involves filtering your schedule down to the work you need to do and what you want to do.

In short, you must track how much time you’re spending on tasks then decide on what can be outsourced and delegated.

Forming a successful delegation strategy isn’t necessarily straightforward, but it’s essential in your journey. You’ve got to remain involved in the comings and goings of your business while also not being too hands-on. You don’t want to do too much, but you don’t want to be disconnected. 

Fortunately, at OwnersUP, we’ve spent years crafting these types of approaches and strategies for business owners like you. 

Our business coaches are proven success stories themselves and can provide high-value insights that help you delegate effectively. We’ll turn you from a self-employed dreamer into a thriving business owner whose life is the picture of freedom. 

Fill out our form, and see how we’ll set you on the path to bonafide ownership. 


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