Is being a small business owner easier or harder than having a 9 to 5 job?

Old two pan balance

Old two pan balance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember this post? Sellers & business owners don’t go on vacation, we go on “vacation”

It’s a bitter angry post from a few years ago the gist of which is this: You never really get to take a vacation when you own your own business. I don’t know a single business owner or seller, myself included, who doesn’t end up having to work a little to a lot when they’re supposed to be on vacation.

The same tends to go for sick days. Whenever I’m sick, even when I had whooping cough, I still make sure all the emails are answered, packages go out on time and commitments are met no matter how crappy I feel. As I covered in another bitter angry post, customers don’t care whether you’re sick or not, they still want their orders. And if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. It’s as simple as that.

Sometimes it seems like we can never really take a break. (It also seems like I write a lot of bitter angry blog posts.)

And, before you call me on it, I know that we chose this career and you don’t want to hear us complain about it. We made our proverbial beds and we never get to lay in them because we’re up working. Fair enough.

Because, when you run your own business, you get more independence and control that can often out-weight the benefits of something like sick days or paid vacations. Sure you work more than average but you’re often doing what you want to be doing as your own boss and that makes it less painful. That extra work and sacrifices we make to run our own companies give us freedoms that are impossible for those in the 9 to 5 world. We could go back and forth all day on the advantages and disadvantages of running your own business and it’s nothing we haven’t covered before.

But I bring this up again because I just recently had my first child. And I’m finding myself right smack in the middle of the advantage and disadvantage zone.

On one hand, I don’t get any maternity leave and work was waiting for me immediately upon returning from the hospital. While I wanted to just concentrate on recovering and adjusting to being a new parent, I was still sending out shipments, fielding client emails, and all the other day to day business of my company while doing the mommy thing. (In some terrible timing, I had to get all of the finances for 2012 out two days after we got home from the hospital which was very hard.) I’d be lying if it didn’t feel unfair that I had to work every day when having a new baby seemed like more than enough. Why couldn’t I get at least a few days off? I was downright jealous of my friends who had a real maternity leave, in many cases paid, to just concentrate on the baby.

But time has been passing and I’d be going back to work soon if I’d had normal maternity leave. And though I’ve been working all this time, I have much more flexibility in running my company than my friends have in their normal 9 to 5 job. I’ll have a much greater opportunity to arrange my work around parenting when possible which is an amazing freedom.

It works both ways. I’ll be working nights and weekends when friends with normal jobs are off. I will only make money on the days that I actually work since I still won’t be getting those paid vacations or sick days. My company will always be so intertwined with my life that the line between personal and professional will be forever blurred.

But there will always be pluses for every minus. Who can say who has it better?

For those of you on either side of the day job divide, I have to ask what you think. Which do you think is better or easier? Is being a small business owner easier or harder than having a 9 to 5 job?

Author: Hillary DePiano

Selling online since 1997, Hillary is the author of several books and eBooks about ecommerce and publishing including Beyond Amazon, eBay, and Etsy and Sell Their Stuff. She also writes fiction and is a bestselling playwright when you aren't looking. For a complete list of books, plays and projects, visit HillaryDePiano.com.

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