Ask the Readers: Is Working for Someone Else a Disservice to Yourself?

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Are you doing a disservice to yourself by working for someone else?

That’s the question I want you to answer today.

Every so often, Passive Panda will run an Ask The Readers question because I want you to leave a comment about a topic or question that relates to earning more money and working for yourself.

I value your opinion — and I certainly don’t have all of the answers — so I think it’s important to get your ideas as well as mine.

Also, this is a no–pressure, no–fail zone. All opinions are welcome as long as they do not disrespect another commenter. So feel free to speak your mind in confidence.

The Question

Yesterday, I was speaking with a friend about what I do, how I work for myself, and so on.

She said that she would love to do the same and then she offered up this thought,

“Spending your life working for someone else is the greatest disservice you can do to yourself.”

I want to know … do you agree with her statement?

Leave a Comment

There are certainly arguments on both sides.

Who is to say that people who believe in the system they work in are doing a disservice to themselves? For example, teachers or service men and women in the military.

On the other hand, does working for someone else naturally mean that you spend your life pursuing their vision instead of yours? What if those two visions are closely related, but not quite the same?

Are you better off sacrificing what you really want to do with your life for something that’s close to what you want to do? Are many of your talents wasted because you have to work within someone else’s system?

Work is a large part of our lives. In many ways, what we spend our lives working on determines how we live in general. I want to hear your thoughts on this important subject.

So please, scroll down to leave a comment below and tell us … is spending your life working for someone else a disservice to yourself?

Click Here To Leave a Comment … or read them all below.

96 Responses to Ask the Readers: Is Working for Someone Else a Disservice to Yourself?

  1. Shaun says:

    I think it depends on the person. I’ve worked for myself since high school, but I know plenty of people who are better off as employees.

    • Ivan says:

      Working for someone else, has some benefits. You can learn grow, make an income and some sense of security….
      But in my case, I did not like the internal politics, some of the inefficiencies, the sludgery after a while and the confinement.
      Both have benefits and cons, yet for myself, the benefits of self employment outnumber the benefits of employment with someone else ( especially a large corporation).

      • Amit Shaw says:

        Yes I am agree with Ivan and Shaun. Working for others means gaining to much knowledge.
        I am working for some company and within 6 month i got too many guidance and its really effective for me. For me I am disagree with The statement.


    • lavysa says:

      I think that’s depends of person. For me, even though it was a lot of stress when I worked for myself, the feeling of freedom it was amazing. When you work for someone you don’t have time even to think. Yes, you learn things but I wonder why. a less it is not helping you to grow a business…

    • Shaun, I’d agree with you too. There’s no one size fits all here. Personally, I’m just not the type to work for someone else. Working with someone else is a different story, but I’m just not employee material.

      However that doesn’t mean everyone else is like me. In fact I know some people that make excellent employees. In fact the only option in their profession is to be an employee. So there you go.

  2. Working for someone else comes with the benefits of LEARNING from someone else in some instances, that would be my main counterpoint.

    Not all positions offer this obviously, but you can learn a lot working for someone else.

  3. No I don’t think it is, however, working for yourself is one of the most rewarding, yet challenging things anyone can ever do in their life. Let’s face it, not for everyone is cut out to run their own business.

    If you want to work for yourself, you’ll find a way. I know myself being self-employed has been rewarding, stressful, fun and hard work all at the same time.

    It all depends on if you’re happy with your job / career or not. If you’re not, go change that. You only get ‘one’ life.

  4. Vanessa says:

    Working for yourself vs. someone else is a question many unemployed, and especially young people are facing. I know I am.

    There are positives and negatives to both. The positive for working for someone else is that you get benefits (hopefully good ones) and you get paid without all the behind the scenes paperwork like taxes, insurance etc. You may be lucky enough to find an employer that allows you freedom to try new things, but they are few and hard to find these days.

    Working for yourself lets you have all the freedom and flexibility you want, but often comes with a lot of extra work and longer hours. You need to have hustle, planning and foresight – skills that not everyone has, plus you have to handle all that administrative stuff too whether directly or through a consultant.

    I have worked in economic development and there are quite a few people that are saying that the economy is moving towards a single consultant model, and it is certainly easier these days with technology and low-start up costs. However, I think there are some folks who do not desire, or are not even qualified to work for themselves. This is why so many small businesses fail within the first three years of their creation.

    So long story short – are you doing yourself a disservice by not working for yourself? Perhaps, but you can still grow and learn especially early on in your career by working for someone else.

  5. Ben Holt says:

    There are a few levels about this statement:

    1) If you’re in business, you’re always working “for other people” – that is, you’re delivering value to someone else who, in exchange, repays you in some way. In that sense, it’s not possible to *not* work for someone else.

    2) In terms of being employed by someone, I still don’t agree absolutely. I know many people who are very happy doing work for others, in a system they didn’t build, with rules they didn’t write. But the key difference is that they believe in the work (that is, the results, the *impact* their work has), they have enough autonomy and freedom to contribute and express themselves, and they understand that they may be making some sacrifices to live that life. They don’t settle.

    The thing is, you can work for your self and still settle for mediocrity. Just after high school, I worked in a mom-&-pop computer repair store for almost 5 years. The owners could have been very free and prosperous, but settled for being mediocre and thinking of it as “just a job”. They did themselves – and their customers – a disservice in that.

    3) I do think that when you *settle* for working for someone else, doing work you hate just to scrape by, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Like Gary Vaynerchuk said, “There is no reason in 2008 to be doing sh*t you hate. Please stop.” It was true in 2008, and it’s true today. It’s never been easier to make it as your own master, so why serve another one?

    Having said all that, I work for myself, my customers, and my vision. And I’ve never been happier!

    • Keith says:

      I agree with you Ben, if your working you’re working for someone. The difference between working by yourself and working in a company should be that in a company someone else is doing the paperwork (the bits of being in business you don’t enjoy).

      In either case you should know what your customer needs and be there to provide it for them. If you have the autonomy to create and lead and a problem to solve then you have what it takes to be creative and happy.

      I agree the problem enters when you give up being creative and eager and it’s just a job! Great discussion!


    • Shauna Kim says:

      I was thinking the same thing. We’re always “working for someone else” whether self-employed or not because to be successful in life as well as in business, we have to be service-oriented and know how to deliver value to others. It’s a great model and it works because basically we all end up sharing our strengths and complementing each others’ weaknesses and needs, so it’s a win-win.

      Having said all that, I understand the question is asking whether it is better to be either self-employed or an employee. The answer is that it depends on the individual, their goals, and their appproach to work. If a person has a good attitude, they can make either situation work and get tremendous value out of both. There’s alot to be learned from being an employee like work ethic, discipline, becoming proactive, professionalism, problem-solving skills. The list of takeaways goes on and on. These are all skills that anyone who wants to succeed in life and in business needs. Anyone aspiring to become an entrepeneur needs those skills at the very least and then to go beyond. So it can be a great training ground.

      It also depends on the skills and experience a person already has. Being an employee can be a great place to start while they hone their vision for their own business and go from there. If a person is already ahead of the game, then it would be the best for that person to not compromise and get into business for themselves as soon as they can. I think the benefits are certainly worth the effort!

  6. Srinivas says:

    It honestly depends. If you are doing freelance work, you are still working for somebody else. I think Greg made a great point above. You have the opportunity to learn. In my experience a hybrid of doing your own thing and working for somebody else can actually be a really perfect way to make the transition to working for yourself without an insane amount of stress. When you’re not completely dependent on your venture to put food on the table, you can operate with a bit more freedom.

    On the flip side of that, some people say when you are in a make or break mode, you’re more likely to do whatever it takes. I’ve seen people who are not self motivated enough to do something on their own when they are working for somebody else. So, it really is dependent on each individuals’ situation.

  7. Jen says:

    Working for yourself or for someone else is, in my opinion, largely dependent on your personality. Some people can do it and some can’t. For those who can’t, working for someone else is not a disservice to themselves whereas working for themselves would be and could even be detrimental to them. For some people, working for others is such a detriment and disservice. I am beginning to think that is definitely the case for me and I am working to change that.

  8. Self-employed people often make these kind of nonsense statements. There is no shame in working for someone else (ask an employee like Payton Manning or Brian Williams if their careers are rewarding or not). And working for demanding, unreasonable clients isn’t necessarily “freedom.” I was a freelancer for six years, and some of those years were great, financially. But now that I’m employed at a large university, I don’t have to constantly worry about health insurance, steady paychecks, or my kids’ tuition bills. You can make $100K and be your own boss and still have zero peace of mind.

  9. Sophia says:

    I believe if you have an entrepreneur mindset then work for your self or with a partner. The majority of folks do not have the mindset required to be an entrepreneur. I am reading a book called Kick yourself in the ass and get going. The author is CEO of a technology startup group. He stresses that all entrepreneurs do a market validation test to learn precisely what your target customer truly is looking for. It is a painful exercise but helpful and necessary.

    Have any of you experienced this approach?

    Thanks for any feedback. Enjoy your day.

  10. James L says:

    I think that this is somewhat of a loaded question. Mainly because everyone works for someone at some point. Spending your life doing so could very well limit your opportunities and drive to do something bigger. I feel that working for a mentor or someone you respect is also important to develop skills and knowledge. I’m often guilty of trying to take on too much work when possibly getting help or advice from others would be more efficient.

    A good quote relating to this is: “No man is an island.”

  11. Karen Skelly says:

    I am self-employed – however, I still work for someone else, my clients. Obviously, not everyone can be self-employed or we wouldn’t have everything in the world that we now have (cars, phones, computers, etc). There are also advantages to working for someone else – not as much responsibility, anxiety, and motivation. You also get benefits such as insurance, paid vacation, and retirement programs (not as much as in the past, but there are still some companies offering them).

  12. Matt says:

    That’s a tough one. I’ve been running my own show for 3 years now and there have been times I have thought it was too hard to succeed. Even though we are past that initial danger point of 3 years we far from financial stable and at times I struggle to pay the bills – I would probably be able to get a higher paying job with my experience in the sector – however, the challenge of growing my business is what gets me out of bed and I think it would bore me senseless to have a job. Plus I have issues with people telling me what to do :) .
    In all honesty I think it depends on the person. Some do not have the gumption to go out and do it. Others don’t want to take the risk. Working for others is not a disservice – but you are cheating yourself out of some real fun with your career if you had over responsibility for your success to an employer.

  13. Joe says:

    Some people simply don’t have to drive to make their own path. It takes a certain kind of person to be your own boss. Giving up freedoms and dedicating yourself to your goals is a characteristic that most people just don’t have.

  14. Totally agree with Ben, above! Even if you work for yourself, as I do, you still work for others if you’re in a business. So true!

    I think it really depends on the person, as others have mentioned here. I know people who love their work and their co-workers and their boss too, and of course having a regular paycheck and benefits. My friends in this category can’t imagine giving all that up, and sometimes I envy them. You know how it is, when you run a business, there’s so much going on that needs attention, and you are the one responsible for making it all happen.

    I can’t lie, every now and then I think, “Hmm, having a job to go to would be easier — I could show up, do good work, then actually be fully ‘off’ in my down time!” Though I’ve had plenty of jobs where I couldn’t be “off” in my down time, when I worked in PR or on political campaigns, for example. But I did love that kind of work, so I didn’t actually mind having to be “on” most of the time.

    But in my heart of hearts, I’d always wanted to do my own thing and play by my own rules, and so I’m fully accepting of the trade-offs it requires to have my own business. I love that I get to have flexibility in my day and in the projects I choose to take on, and that yes, even though I do client work for others, I choose the work I do; I don’t get “assigned” projects I don’t like or believe in. I think this choice is at the heart of why it’s so critical to my happiness to be able to work for myself.

    It all boils down to what a person’s particular priorities are, and for some that means working at a job, while for others it means owning a business, and both are valid and respectable choices.

  15. Keith says:

    When I graduated with a computer science degree 30 years ago, finding work was pretty easy. I’ve also been fortunate to have been out of work for maybe 6 months in total since then. Things today are more uncertain than ever in the work world, and continued employment is continually more uncertain when it comes to asking someone else to provide a regular paycheck. I’ve never run my own business, but I’m feeling more motivated to start. The ability to cobble together a living wage through one’s own businesses seems like the ultimate show of self-reliance.

  16. Jeffrey says:

    I don’t think that statement is true in all cases. Many people are better off working for others as employees, and they’ll do just fine keeping it that way. I think there are a lot greater “disservices” that you can create for yourself other than simply working for someone else.

    There are a lot of great benefits that can be achieved by working for yourself, and, if you’re successful, it’s a huge advantage over being an employee.

    As some other commenters pointed out, there are benefits to working for others like learning, stability, and more. All of these things factor in when deciding which route to take in life.

  17. Faith Whitfield says:

    Everyone can’t work for themselves, because if we did there would be no employees. Some people are more cut out to work for someone else than for themselves, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, if you you want to work for yourself, and you spend years working for someone else, you are doing yourself a great disservice. Working for someone else, especially if it is doing something that you don’t want to do is soul-sucking.

  18. Michael Turchyn says:

    Being in my 60′s I am still looking for something. I like to be earning $ 1M per year and still have come up empty.
    I have earned $ 100,000 per year sweating but there must be someting else.

  19. I would do anything for gaining knowledge through the process of “sharing best practices.” That’s what you get when you work for somebody and it pays either in the short-term or after years.

  20. Joey Davis says:

    Simply put, the main vision here is mutual gain between the client and YOU. Maybe the client gains an advertisement or their dog is walked when they get home — but did you gain the recognition within the company you work for? If you work for yourself, are you giving yourself the recognition?

    It doesn’t matter whether you work for yourself or someone else when it comes to recognition.

    If you one day leave the company you worked for, you are able to take the recognition with you, the personal references, the examples of excellence. You do the same when you works for yourself.


    When you freelance, you become part of a company.
    When you work for someone else, you become part of a company.
    Either way, you take on an identity other than your own.

    Since I was 15, I’ve worked part time as a graphic designer for a company — the only designer for them. At the same time I also partially worked for myself, doing freelance work. I would not say that one has been more rewarding than the other.

    I believe the disservice to yourself is spending your life judging the quality of your work on whether or not you worked for someone else or simply yourself.

    The reality is: working for someone else can be just as rewarding, or greater, than working for yourself — and vice versa.

  21. Tommy O says:

    Having only completed two years of College… and jumping into the workforce at age 16 while in High School,I have conflicting emotions.
    I put in 23.5 years in the retail grocery industry and 22 years in package delivery /transportation logistics. (overlapping the two careers for 7 years part time at both)
    I was never “in love” with either job…and surprised at the longevity endured at both.
    I would normally agree that to work for yourself is the way to go… having had the ability to retire at age 55 with two formidable 401K plans and a pension…I guess I made the right choice.
    Of course,times have changed drastically. The grocery industry no longer leads the way in retail wages and traditional pensions are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
    Judging from close friends that have opened their own business with success…the trick is to discipline one’s self to make the necessary moves to save for an eventual retirement.
    Sadly…That discipline seems to elude many that go that route.

  22. Beth says:

    I couldn’t agree more with this statement. However, the figuring out HOW to work for yourself and make a good living is where the difficulty arises.

  23. Mark says:

    Yes, because I am the kind of person who doesn’t like being tied down to a JOB. I hate working for someone else, but I don’t have the funds to start a business, nor strong enough courage to take the plunge. I have always desired to work for myself.

  24. Working for someone else is only bad for you if you’re longing to do something else…as long as working for someone is the means to aid and support your transition into being fully self-employed then you’ve found an entry for co-creating the life you have been dreaming about and declaring.

    Also bad is really just a state of mind due to disgruntlement with who you want to be and what you want to do with your life and where you are currently…and the feeling that causes you to think that you’re limited and can’t co-create the changes that gives you joy, a sense of freedom, and I can do anything kinda of feeling.

    So focus on the good, know that all of what you want for yourself along with the universe/god/gods/goddess/goddesses/ancestor/ancestors/whether you are agnostic or atheist are supporting you in co-creating the life you want for yourself, and though hard work and discipline must be involved, remember that riches is never what we need but wisdom wisdom wisdom to use the riches given to us since birth to control and direct our minds to whatever ends we desire.

    Maintaining control and direction of where you put your second by second energy each and every minute of every hour will yield you the fruits of your focused purposeful labour…then working for someone else is never never never a bad thing, but a blessing – aiding and serving you in co-creating the life you sense, feel, and will live.

    And our world will be better for having you and I visit long after we’ve left.

    with gratitude…
    a soulcentric sessions insight

  25. Debi says:

    There are pros and cons to working for self and also to working for someone else. It really depends on one’s current circumstances and the “take away” when working for someone else. I have learned a lot of things while working for and with other people that I would likely not have learned on my own. While I am looking forward to one day working for myself, I truly appreciate all that I’ve learned by working for others.

  26. Wow, James — you’ve really stirred the pot with this one!

    I’ve been teaching perinatal classes and doing lactation consultations at a hospital for the past 30+ years and I LOVE my work … but I DON’T love being at the mercy of someone else and the feeling of sheer insecurity knowing the bottom can fall out on my position at any moment.

    I’m an independent contractor (always have been) and now, after all these years of dedication and exemplary evaluations, looks like I may shown my way to the exit. Mind you — I get NO benefits of any kind, NO vacation days (I work year round), No retirement benefits … nothing.

    So let’s sum this up …

    Is working for someone else a disservice to yourself?

    In my case, yes.

  27. I worked my tail off for someone else for 18 years in television news. I loved my work and always got great reviews/ratings. One Friday, my boss said “We aren’t renewing your contract. Goodbye”. That was it.

    In a sudden moment of clarity I realized I had been doing it all wrong – working for someone else, instead of myself. Now, I’ve launched my own business, it’s growing rapidly and while it’s certainly challenging, I love it!

    All of my effort is finally putting deposits into my own piggybank and not someone else’s. I swore as I left the building, I’d never let one person have that power to just take it all away.

  28. Nimet says:

    For me it is not a disservice. I do what I do well and would rather do it for myself. I sometimes miss the interaction with colleagues but certainly dont miss the politics.

  29. Shelley says:

    It really depends on whether you want to work for a wage or profits, and with both come pros and cons! One of the biggest issues for me though is that if you choose to be self-employed, but then would like to work for someone else, the people interviewing you may not understand you. If you choose to be self-employed, you may be come “unhirable” anyway!

  30. Jarod Online says:

    I think it just depends on how bad you want something, and how much stress you’re willing to go through. I have a hard time with perseverance, so new challenges are always extremely hard to get through, especially since I tend to find new things to do (my typical procrastination “initializer”). Like right now, I’ve been learning affiliate marketing for 1 month now, but have been trying affiliate marketing for 3 weeks, and things have been so stressful for me these past weeks that it really feels like I’ve been getting nowhere for almost 3 months now (seriously). It’s ridiculous.

    But I just finished my first ever affiliate review site and only have to do backlinking now, so that beats all of my efforts these past weeks. Because like I said, I think it depends on how bad you want it and how much stress you’re willing to go through.

  31. Dan Pantaleo says:

    One is never doing a disservice by working for someone else, its about developing a maturity and being able to exceed the daily task on hand and doing it consistently.
    When you have accomplished this one can always start their own business on the side and have fun learning what it takes to get to the next step.
    Go as far as you can go until you get there and then you will know where to go next,keep it fun.
    I have always told my children, “What ever you study for and pursue in your JOB JOB …make sure in the wort scenario you can convert your experience and knowledge into a business.”
    Dan Pantaleo/President
    Canguard Security&Investigations Inc.

  32. Dave says:

    Hi James, first I would just like to give you a quick thank you for the freelance course you have put up on tuts+ I have learned a lot from that and it has changed my whole perspective on starting out as a freelancer in a positive way.

    I think that working for someone else all depends on what it is your doing. I had a job that I hated for 5 years but it forced me into taking action and learning a new skill that would take my life forward, which was learning web design. I believe that if I hadnt have done something I hated I would not have found something I love and In the last 2 weeks I have got a job in web design and I have just finished my second freelancing project.

    So I think that working for someone else can be a positive thing as it can give you that extra push to get your life on track.

  33. Chris says:

    We are *all* working for someone else, either our boss or our clients. Either form of employment can be a disservice and to label working for someone else as “the greatest disservice” is myopic. The environment you choose to do it in is irrelevant. Working in a field you don’t like, not chasing and reaching your potential, choosing complacency over adventure – now that’s the great disservice.

  34. Jay Pandya says:

    I think working for others is waste of life……

    If you dont believe me look at the faces of people on metro on Monday morning and compare them on Friday evening…

  35. Wendy says:

    Hmmmmmm. This is interesting to consider, but ultimately it has to depend on the individual. Each of us have been created differently with wonderful qualities that lend to serving through employment or serving through your own business or a combination that hopefully ends up at the best destination. If we aren’t doing what we are best suited to do, then it is a disservice to us (and our employer or customers) not to change.

  36. Yvonne says:

    I’ve pondered this question for many an hour. Bottom line for me: does it drain your soul, leave you complacent, or feed your soul?

    For the first 3-4 years, the job fed my soul
    for the next couple of years, I was indifferent about it.
    These last 2-3 years, I’ve been running on empty.

    Just today, I’ve decided to leave the 8 to 5, $80K per year job.

    It has served it’s purpose: it has allowed me to create a decent 401K as well as help me purchase 7 cash flowing rental properties yielding about $1900 /month (before vancany and maintenance). Since my house payment is about $725 per month, I am in a pretty good position to make whatever sort of change that I want to make.

    So, I put the question to you: whether you are self-employed or employed by someone else, does the work you do serve YOUR purpose?

  37. Eduardo says:

    I think that in today’s economy, you got to do what you got to do to get by, pay the bills, put food on the table and have some money in your pocket. I think that if you’re working in a place where you’re being subjected to a great amount of stress or if your boss is emotionally sick and ultra passive aggressive, then I believe there’s no point in continuing on that job. I have found out that remaining on a job that doesn’t make you feel fulfilled makes you die on the inside with your dreams, your aspirations, your goals and so forth.

  38. Owen says:

    Working for someone else is definately a disservice for me. I have been working for 22 years since I leave my native land to come to North America,and it has been gruling. I keep moving from job to job,and I am never 100% satisfied. The only job that I ever worked at that I was 100% satisfied, and would probably stay in for the rest of my life is as Accounting job. I am now giving serious thought to self employment, because I don’t want to continue down this path of no job security and uncertainty.

  39. Gail Page says:

    Great comments folks. I think that when you work for someone else and you really don’t want to be there, then that is a dis-service to both the person you work for AND yourself.

    I see too many people who want to leave their place of work, for various reasons, but put it in the too hard basket. They don’t even allow themselves to even dream about the possibility of what they could/would do IF they got out of the too hard basket.

    Life’s too short to regret what you haven’t done. I only want to look back and regret some of the things I HAVE done :0))

  40. Christiane says:

    In my case, it is a disservice because it means I am not living authentically. Working for myself means I am using the skills, knowledge and passion that come with a lifetime of entrepreneurship. I’ve been self-employed since a teenager because I had to survive on my own and make the best of circumstances. I’ve build some awesome and profitable businesses that I sold for others to continue to generate a livelihood. You see, I LOVE to start things up – most of my talent thrives in the special energy of starting something new. Don’t ask me to run it for years – I grow bored too soon. It’s the magic of new things that turns my crank. I’m in an new community (and a French one at that!)and still haven’t found my next big thing, so to speak. I’m watching the locals for clues in the hopes that some small glimmer will catch my fancy. Good luck and happy hunting to all commentators.

  41. Kenny says:

    I disagree. Some people are just not cut out to work for themselves. There are countless examples of people who achieve great things working for others in the technical sense but underneath they are often working for themselves taking action from their moral and philosophical viewpoint is definitely not a disservice to yourself.

    Personally I have never been comfortable working for others. However on those occasions I achieved job satisfaction knowing I am working for something bigger than myself.

    I am just wired in a manner that hates the constraints of a formal work environment but ultimately we all work for ourselves and what we believe. I understand why she would make that comment but it is a sweeping generalization and coming from the standpoint of an entrepreneur who cannot imagine any other way of being in the world because working for yourself and the freedom it brings often cannot be matched.

  42. Pamela says:

    I do not see working for someone else as a dis-service to yourself. I worked for a company for the past 10 yrs and now I find myself in a position where I am being ‘forced out’, however, in the past I have been an entrepreneur, when I do not have a business that runs itself, it is very challenging to be the only bread winner, as my efforts are dependent on ME doing.. For me it is the toughest place to be in a changing world. I have gone back to college twice and still did not get jobs in those areas. I will not give up, I have skills that I am sure will serve me well. Looking for a mentor, someone who has been there and is available to offer support.

  43. Wayne says:

    Many of us, through circumstance, have been forced to start our own businesses as things get tough out there in the real world.

    The positives and negatives that one encounters with either working for a boss or for yourself are very much the same.

    It comes down to the individual. It makes no difference where you find yourself working, as long as you are doing what you want to do.

    The two major factors that keep people off the self-employment route are finance and the aversion to taking risks of any sort.

    Once you have managed to resolve those two obstacles, each one of you has the potential to be our own boss.

    If you do decide to become self-employed, remember one thing. Patience. Things never have, and never will, happen over night.

    I am self-employed, work for a great boss, set my own pay check and find my self wondering ever now and then: “Why did I not do this a long time ago”.

  44. CJ Campbell says:

    Unless you are prepared to be the boss of your own company and endeavour to grow & hire others, you are still an employee working for someone else.

    Until you can take a holiday from your business for a month and come back to increased revenue, you are still an employee. If you are not prepared to shift your thinking to allow yourself to be an employer, you have simply created yourself a job where you get to be the technician under many bosses (including yourself). The only problem with this is, if successful in not being a boss, you will be working 18hr days always trying to catchup until inevitably you get tired of it, start flailing and decide to go work for someone else because it’s easier.

    That said, I agree with your friend’s statement because no matter how much you achieve working for someone else, it will be insignificant in comparison to what you are forced to achieve when working for yourself.
    Behind every successful company is an entreprenuer who was willing to change, and not willing to starve.

  45. Michael says:

    Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, you should be able to express your true creative self. If you are not doing that, you’re just doing work. What you choose to do on a daily basis should be more than just work. It should be a contribution to the community at large. Not just a paycheck. Follow your heart and be filled with courage. Don’t be afraid to be YOU. You’re job is to be YOU and express your creative self.

    Working for an employer is not job security at all. Someone can decide at the drop of a hat to cut off your money supply at anytime. Working for yourself allows you to never be fired by a boss. You are in control of how much you earn. You just have to find out what it is you want to do with your life. You have the power to choose.

  46. Norja says:

    I have always enjoyed working for myself (aka working for clients instead of an employer), but it certainly isn’t easy… It’s got it’s pro-s and con-s just like everything else in the world! When you decide to be self-employed, make sure you have enough money saved up for the low times, or the times that you don’t get paid by someone when you thought you were.
    Being self-employed usually means: you are either busy doing the work, or busy finding the work…so you are always busy! When you work for someone else, you can actually enjoy your time off. Whatever works for you! :) Enjoy it either way!

  47. Janet Pearce says:

    Ultimately as a mostly self-employed person, I am working for someone else. So, no, it is not a disservice to myself to work for someone else.

    If 100% of my earnings come from someone else, it becomes a disservice to a person when the person or corporation they are working for are not responsible bosses. And here, I am narrowing the meaning of a responsible boss down to creating a win/win situation in his/her/its relationship with his/her/its employees.

    (Hardly ever happened with all the bosses I have known, but hey, hope springs eternal that one day this is how all relationships will be.)

  48. Mary says:

    To me working for someone else means working for them on their time and mine. I feel like when you are working for someone they do not care what you want to do in your personal life. I hate being tied down not being able to enjoy things you want in your life and missing out on so much because you have to work on their time. I am a great worker and I am flexible, but I want them to be flexible as well! I like to travel to places every once. I had to find 14 people at my job to work for me so I could go to Australia for 11 days, it was not easy and it was very stressful.

  49. Corbett Barr says:

    Great question James!

    For me PERSONALLY, yes, working for someone else is usually a disservice to myself. I was never fully satisfied when working for other people, nor did I feel I was contributing my full potential to the world. BUT, I’ve learned over the past few years that not everyone is cut out for self employment, and not everyone sees it as the golden opportunity that I do.

    As others have pointed out before, “working for yourself” does usually mean that you’re working for someone else (clients and customers), so it’s not a completely valid comparison to begin with :)

  50. Gloria says:

    I believe it all depends on the individual if you’re a leader you are going to feel disservice to yourself. But if you’re a follower then you are just happy with what you’re doing. I would say it’s a fifty fifty answer.

  51. farhiya says:

    I guess it depends on the length of time you work under someone; in my case I just cleared university, so working under someone gives me the practical experience which I didn’t get in campus and also the wealth of knowledge you acquire from the work place, but I dont see this as a longterm thing; its either you move up the ranks of the company your working for and propel your goals or use the knowledge and skill acquired and venture out on your own.

    Disservice only comes into being when you are dissatisfied with yourself.

  52. Sheila says:

    I think whether you work for someone else or for yourself all depends on what you’re working at. If you love what you do, then it doesn’t matter. Some people do better working for someone else and would not have the discipline to work for themselves. Whatever you’re doing has to be right for your particular personality.

  53. In the end of the day, it’s all a matter of what you actually do. You can have a job that you love and feel awesome and you can have your own business and have a terrible time because you need to cater to clients or do things you dislike.

    There is no definite answer here. The main thing, however, is to let other people make the decision for you. You need to be the one who determines what is right or wrong for you.

  54. Janet says:

    Interesting question and discussion piece. Despite all the talk from the blogosphere about entrepreneurship and lifestyle design, more and more, I’m thinking NO. It’s not a disservice. As many have pointed out, you’re still working for someone else if you freelance/have clients. I figure as long as you are in the job title that makes you happy, then whether or not you work for yourself or for a company/corporation doesn’t matter, you will be happy with what you do. For example, I’m a designer and lots of designers are in corporate doing their design thing and happy about it. If I worked for twitter or something cool I’d probably shit my pants. Lots of people (designers) that have conventional jobs still have their online personas/websites/html hackery/portfolios online. They blog about design or code or nerdy things and it seems like they’re living the life. When it starts to become a ‘disservice’ to yourself is when your mission does not match the company mission. If your mission is to just do great design, period, it’s easy in a sense, to find a company to work for. If your mission is deeper than that (I have a yearning to use my design for social change), you may have to break from the mold. It’s all about knowing and following your mission. When an entrepreneur has a “tribe” who like their mission, they can actually be screened to work or partner with them. So in that sense, you don’t ALWAYS have to start your own thing.. Just make sure you’re in the right tribe, with the right mission.

  55. XuDing says:

    I have been working for myself for almost 3 years.

    It is definitely better than working for someone else. ( I did that for 1 and half year).

  56. bob says:

    As John Wayne said in “McClintock”, “everybody works for somebody”. Even if you are the owner, you work for your customers. So whatever you do, make sure it is something you believe in and love.

  57. Craig says:

    It is a GREAT Disservice to work for someone else.

    We ALL have been given the knowledge, to succeed in Life.

    People limit their Financial Freedom, by not finding an idea,no one else has thought of and running with it until,it becomes something big. Jim Pattison is doing this.

    Henry Ford, Albert Einstein. I do not think many of these had much education either.

  58. Sandra says:

    From my work experience spanning 4 decades: Never waste your talents, energies and self respect working for psychic vampires. These are employers so egocentric and greedy that they cannot see any employee as having any value other than to increase the employer’s bottom line. Taking the risk to work for yourself is the most empowering experience you will ever have even if you don’t succeed financially you will gain self knowledge and confidence for whatever lies ahead.

  59. Joy Mo says:

    I think it largely depends on the individual. I don’t mind working for someone else as long as I still have the control of my work and income. Let’s face it, we all work for someone, be it a boss or a client. But being an entrepreneur and working for myself is a lot of fun – nothing beats the excitement I’ve experienced.

  60. Adiba says:

    I feel that working for others is a waste of your talents. The other person or your employer may not follow the same values and traditions that you want to practice. This will prove to be a hinderance for you and you may end up being miserable. This is going to effect your work and your life.


  61. Adiba says:

    It is always better work for youself.

  62. Philip says:

    I support working for somebody else to acquire experience that will later on become one’s saving grace when one’s founded personal business.
    There is nothing like having your own business.

  63. Tom Owens says:

    I’ve always tried to work WITH someone, not FOR someone. Yes, there’s always a boss. However, with collaborative possibilities, the FOR doesn’t seem so one-sided.

  64. Jacqueline says:

    Working for someone else can still allow you to learn skills and give you an opportunity to learn about a particular business….not say’s you have to do it long term. I think as long as you have a goal and don’t stop learning this could be come one of your asset’s

  65. Mike Kirby says:

    Ultimately, we are all working for ourselves, whether we are part of a team or on our own. The most important thing is to be doing something that you have a passion for. If you are not doing something that you like or if you have little choice because of other circumstances, then make plans to change. In the meantime:
    - Try to enjoy the parts of your job that like;
    - Learn everything that you can while you are there;
    - Do the best job possible, even if it may be menial;
    - Cultivate a network of useful contacts;
    - And above all, try to be positive, productive and professional because these traits will serve you well throughout your entire career whether you work for yourself or someone else.

  66. Ana says:

    Only one respondent here has addressed the critical issue today: current economic circumstances. I’m also seeing lots of responses from people obviously too young to have achieved the perspective necessary to tackle this issue head-on.

    But people of all ages have addressed the need to pay your dues. Work for someone else to acquire the skills and experience you can ultimately market to clients or customers. Without real work experience, how are you going to market your goods/services? I’m certainly not going to pay someone with no experience to perform a task for me — unless they are physically with me and I can see them learning as happens in many an entry-level job.

    Kudos too to those who commented on people perfectly content in jobs where they may not own the operation but take pride in doing work that matters to them. I especially liked the situation of the person who contentedly works at a university. Wish that were me. Even working a JOB-job, that was always my ideal atmosphere. But even clerical jobs on campuses are impossible to get today …

    And what about the growing number of well-experienced workers who have “aged out” of traditional employment yet are still too young to retire? Now add on the economic crisis that threw out countless more, and you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people whose skills and experience are being totally wasted on months and sometimes years of endless resume-tweaking and pavement-pounding with no results.

    Let’s face it: Most of them will never find a job. Not anymore. Young workers might — eventually. It’ll take a very long time. We oldies don’t have a very long time.

    For many, that pavement-pounding could be for clients, not employers. The employers are gone. At least for us they are. Most that are left want to hire your kids. Experience or “value” be damned; they no longer want to pay for it.

    But depending on your skills, your client will. Clients, unlike employers, still go for the value thing. Now, I’m only a beginning entrepreneur, looking now to build a real business. But I’ve been freelancing here and there for some years, and I can tell you that experience and value can be marketed directly to someone paying for a service as opposed to someone hiring for a traditional job.

    I really can speak only for myself: female, fiftysomething, formerly employed in the editorial field and in classrooms abroad, now toiling for near-minimum in a factory where tired muscles and creaky joints remind me that this can’t last for too much longer. Benefits: none. Job security: nil. It’s through a temp agency.

    Soul-destroying? Sounds like such a quaint idea in the midst of such crisis. Why am I at such a place that’s destroying my body as well as my soul? No one else will hire me and I have to eat. Building a remote business, little by little, is the only hope I have left. The only hope.

    So for many, yes indeed, working for someone else — or continuously seeking a traditional employer — is horribly self-defeating and ultimately defeating for society. I’m doing everything in my power, absent money which I don’t have, to work for clients and not an employer. I want to build a venture that supports me well, so I can leave this hell and look forward to my senior years with dignity.

  67. Andrew says:

    Again, it all depends. The big cliche is that people always say they want to work for themselves. I guess we need to analyze whether self-employment is something we would be effective and successful doing. Personally, I would love to be an employee making movies in Hollywood. I would take that over trying to do my own business. I guess it depends what we get to do and if we do work we enjoy and expresses who we are. You can’t really get bored doing work that challenges you and allows you to do new things every time whether it’s for yourself or an employer. No matter which, you will always have to answer to someone whether a boss or a customer or client.

  68. Chris says:

    Very interesting question. Personally, I’m a born entrepreneur and always felt I wasn’t living up to my potential anytime I took a job (always short term, in between business ventures).

    I use to think anyone who worked for someone else was shortchanging themselves, but after working with a new manager (for 1-1/2 years) while helping a friend with his business, I have a whole new perspective on this. I did not realize this, but there are some people who simply are not cut out to work for themselves, or have any position of authority/responsibility. This guy doesn’t do a lick more than he absolutely has to, and doesn’t care at all about the success/failure of the business. I believe he also lacks the mindset it takes to think ahead regarding business. (He’s a property manager, responsible for showing homes and managing rehabs, too, and he won’t even carry a tape measure or a broom in his truck! It took me 6 months to teach him how to buy the right 2×4.)

    He’s an employee, and that’s where he shines. As a manager, honestly, it’s only because he’s working for his brother that he’s managed to keep the job.

    So, from this lesson I believe there are people that would starve working for themselves because they simply are not cut out for it. They need a time clock and someone telling them what to do, and they are perfectly happy there (at least many are, I think).

    Other thoughts on this question… I think that even entrepreneurs find themselves in situations where they are better served by working for someone else for a period of time (for reasons of temporary economic necessity or to learn something they lack, etc).

    Personally, I’ve found the fastest route to learning a new business is to go to work for someone who is already successful in that business, who’s willing to share their knowledge. I’ve done it myself, many times, and often without pay because my goal was to learn, not have a j-o-b.

    So I think the answer is different for each individual as it depends on their makeup/talents (ie: if they are cut out to work for themselves or not) and also on their personal and business/employment/financial goals.

    I also think that for young people, many need the structure of a j-o-b starting out, even if they are entrepreneurs at heart and eventually go that route. Everything in life can teach us something if we are simply willing to look at things from that perspective and be open to what we can gain from a situation, rather than simply grumbling about it.


  69. Anesta says:

    Working for someone becomes a disservice when you are underpaid and overworked by your employer. Being your own boss is the best thing that any one of us can become if we are willing to be dedicated, work wisely, have the startup finance and skills that’s needed to be a successful business owner.

  70. Wills says:

    It is indeed a diservice but for starters you may do so as you accumulate your own capital and experience.Later you may start out on your own.
    The problem with most employees is that they are risk averse.You must be a risk taker to be able to stand on your own.

  71. Randy says:

    The one problem you can have working for someone else is that you can’t control your destiny. You service at the whim of someone else. You can have success, but it will always be tempered. If the person you work with changes their focus, you can be out the door.

  72. Cindi says:

    I really don’t feel that working for someone else is necessarily a disservice to yourself. Without an employer / employee relationship and without having those of us in this world that are willing to work for someone else society would be unable to function. We need to have both those members of society that are willing to lead, run and own their own companies and those that are willing to work for the leaders. Without employees nothing gets manufactured, offices no longer run efficiently, high standards of customer service become a thing of the past. We have to accept, embrace and realize that each person in this world has their place, has a destiny they are meant to mold, create and fulfill and for some that means working for someone else. It is already a sad time in that gone are the days where you could place your loyalty with one company for most if not your entire working life, now the work place is competitive, and every person is left looking for a way to stand out against the crowd. Is working for yourself the best possible scenario, absolutely, but without respecting the role that the employee plays, many of today’s truly successful entreprenuers would not be where they are today. No one person can do everything in a growing, thriving company and therefore employees are a need. I believe that working for someone else when approached with an attitude of openess and gratitude; with an eye on the future and open mind atuned to learning can be one of the most valuable experiences a person can have and create for themselves. We need to remember to respect and pay a certain amount of homage to the employees that work for other people because without them, the world won’t turn.

  73. Bruno says:

    They are always a risk if you work for someone else, a disservice for yourself, perhaps, but everybody must work to live or survive. Of course, if you like your job it’s again better, but in all work there are assets and drawbacks. Adding with the economical crisis, each one is hang up to his job and is ready to go very far to keep his work because everyone knew that unemployment is massive. A disservice not sure, in the economic world doutbful.

  74. Kimberly Ann Ihle says:

    Like many others have replied, it depends. I am a teacher; I work for others but what I do serves a purpose greater than myself (and is certainly greater than my paycheck!). However, I would like to have my own business (wine bar) someday. I like the idea of having something that I can grow myself while still serving other people.

    Either way, I am still working for others; I do not consider that a disservice to myself. My current position, by nature, requires that I stay confined in the every-shrinking box that teaching has become. In this way, I do a disservice to myself by continuing in the profession. Having my own business will afford me more freedom from a creative and income-potential perspective. For me, working for others is two sides of the same coin.


  75. Sorry my english. I really believe that one should follow one’s dreams and not follow the dreams of others. I disagree to see pass the life in slow just for changing precious time for money. Personal growth must be linked to self-discipline, effort, dedication, perseverance and resilience. Perhaps the road is longer, but eventually will be more rewarding.

  76. Laurence says:

    It all depends on the job and the employer… The devil is in the details.

  77. Germain says:

    Unless you find a career that you absolutely love and enjoy doing, then working for yourself is the way to go. Not everyone has their fear in check or financial ability to go out and start their own business because of family obligations. If you don’t have a family, wife, husband or children then there is no reason why you should work at a place that makes you unhappy or that you just don’t enjoy. You should go out and find something that you love, anything. I have worked for myself on a few different occasions and I have been somewhat unsuccessful in making something sustainable but I’m not giving up and I have a wife of nearly 10 years and our first child on the way in July. I’m lucky that I have wife that supports me in my endeavors even if we struggle sometimes financially but I absolutely refuse to be miserable at a “job”… So I will not give up and the love in what I am doing and the financial end of it will burst one day soon….

  78. Ben Johnson says:

    I think workers can be separated into two groups: mamminoids and tediaphobes. Mamminoids crave certainty, security, predictability. A 9-5 w/a steady paycheck appeals to them.
    Tediaphobes are terrified of being bored. They like challenges, risk, action and engagement and are willing to sacrifice security for meaning, fulfillment and a chance to live their dreams.
    Tediaphobes are more apt to work for themselves. But they usually need a mamminoid to handle the accounting and other mundane tasks necessary for success.

    • Rev says:

      Working for others is fantastic you learn in the process, I’ve never seen knowledge being wasted. What ever you master become a tool for future achievement. When you work for others have a time frame, to pull out and start your own.

  79. RL Jordan says:

    Working for yourself IS the greatest service you can do over a lifetime, whether it is done as an employee or as an entrepreneur. Ex: we worked as employees until we raised the kids, as the benefits were very valuable, now we work for ourselves full time and have always been entrepreneurs. Unless you have no debt, are building wealth, and address long term needs -financial and emotional- either “work” is a disservice!

  80. I think it is a diservice to SOME people to not work for yourself. Not to be too harsh, but I think it is kind of arrogant and even just flat out incorrect to assume that everyone is (or should) be like you.

    For me personally, working for myself is always something I’m going to be doing. I don’t see myself happy any other way.

  81. John says:

    Just recently I’ve started working for myself online. Let me tell you – you feel a great deal of freedom when you step out from working for a corporation and start producing products and services you can call your own. You can BELIEVE in what you’re selling – and that’s a powerful thing.

    I think many people are doing a disservice to themselves by not taking the plunge and stepping out on their own when they are tempted to. But it all has to be in the right timing.

  82. Linda says:

    I enjoy reading your articles. It is not all of us suited to working for themselves, well I used to think so. We make choices according to the knowledge we have at the time. Does it take being suddenly unemployed to shift that mindset? Maybe that still doesn’t cause we love our comfort zone. For me the light turned on when I no longer had the choice to work 9 to 5.

  83. Garry says:

    Yes, I agree with Ivan and Shaun. Working for others means gaining much more than knowledge. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  84. Garry says:

    I think the answer totally depends upon situation as certain circumstances can only force someone to do something.

  85. Alex says:

    I’m afraid that I’m not going to say something too new because so many people have already expressed their thoughts on the matter. I’d like to just add that sure thing if you are self-employed you do work for other people BUT you can decide when you have a day off and you’re not supposed to ask anybody if you want to go somewhere on business, vacation or a conference that is not directly-related to your job. That’s the kind of freedom that I really appreciate. The good news is that the Internet allows to do that. You just need to be a pro enough in your field. That’s about it.

    • Kenneth says:

      Well, you can decide when to take a day off if you are self-employed AND if you have enough funds saved that you can skip a few projects from your customer or customers. It really depends. But you’re right as for the Internet part because it allows to be geographically everywhere (the high speed Internet is available) and that guarantees that you won’t lose too many of your customers.

  86. Allan says:

    I think working for oneself is better even though some perform best while working for others. But working for others is a disservice because one is not free to pursue their dreams.

  87. Tony Schober says:

    There are definitely pros and cons to each. However, having worked both ways, I can never see myself wanting to go back to working for someone else. There is just to much personal freedom in working for yourself.

    As with anything though, it’s going to depend on your own situation. Working for someone else made it possible for me to be where I am today.

  88. robgail says:

    I was self employed but due to some health issues I closed my business. I didn’t work for a couple years but I had to go back to now working for someone else I don’t like it.She is not a good manager and has made many people anger and caused people to get fired.I feel better when I work for myself because I can be more creative but working for someone else I feel controlled.I finally decided this woman is just not a nice person.

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