Full-Time Freelancer vs Full-Time Employee: Which One is Better?
Denise Renee is a Marketing Copywriter and Social Media Branding strategist. She helps individuals and small businesses build their brands online so they can attract their desired opportunities. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @MeetDeniseRenee. Catch her Motivational Monday posts and more on her blog, Meet Denise Renee
In my experience, I’ve noticed a major bias within the entrepreneurial community that doesn't get talked about very much.
There is an underlying “caste system,” if you will, between those who are full-time entrepreneurs (or full-time freelancers working for themselves), and those who choose to work a 9-to-5 job while they build their business.
The bias I’ve experienced isn’t always overt; it’s often in how someone physically responds to me or how the intonation of their voice changes when they learn I have a full-time job in addition to my freelance business. Through innuendos and attitudes of disdain, I’ve picked up the unspoken rule: full-time entrepreneurs who risk life savings, credit scores, family scorn, and sleeping in their car in order to launch their idea are considered “REAL” entrepreneurs. Those who choose to work for someone else and earn a full-time income while nurturing their business are not considered serious. They are dubbed “hobbyists” or worse: “Wantrepreneurs.”
The core of the matter seems to be the risk factor. Freelancers who brave the elements without a perceived safety net are heralded but salary-earners are thought less of because they are “playing it safe.”
With one exception. There is a group of salaried employees who seem to get a “day pass” into the exclusive entrepreneur club. Top executives of popular companies who build strong personal brands (think Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg or Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi) are rightfully lauded for their accomplishments and leadership. In my opinion, I think they get a pass because they often exhibit similar out-the-box thinking usually credited to entrepreneurs in order to effectively lead and grow these companies. I also think they get a pass because they have enough star power to easily raise several rounds of funding to launch their own business brand if they ever desired.
But back to my point. Full-time freelancers and salaried employees are usually pitted against each other like a Conservative and a Libertarian who will never see eye-to-eye. This very real bias is a major challenge to the “Peace, Love, and Harmony” glasses that I prefer to view the world through. For me, it begs a major question...
(no, not: “Can we all just get along!”)
Why does being an entrepreneur have to be rigidly defined as “all in” or “all out?”
Having spent time as both a full-time entrepreneur and my current state of holding down a full-time job while building my practice, I know first hand that entrepreneurs don’t hold a trademark on risk taking. Being an employee is just as risky as being an entrepreneur… it just comes down to which type of risk you’re willing to accept during the current phase of life you find yourself in.
The spirit of entrepreneurism is in the very DNA of this country. Yet today, many Americans find themselves between two competing realities: they have a dream of starting a business or pursuing a passion, yet feel compelled or obligated to work a full-time job in order to meet their financial responsibilities. It’s already challenging enough to muster up the courage to pursue your dreams. So it hurts when you expect to be welcomed by your new community but instead are made to feel excluded.
So yeah, can we all just get along?
The irony is, I’ve seen how leveraging entrepreneurial experiences can lead to greater opportunities in the employment arena and vice versa. Here’s an example. A few years ago, I was working as an Administrative Assistant. However, I had been steadily gaining marketing experience through my freelance work and the four years I spent outside of the traditional workforce promoting a business. I hated the administrative role and I requested to transition into the marketing department because of my other experiences. I was able to prove my skills and make the transition.
Similarly, I’ve seen people who successfully operated businesses in the past, leverage their experiences to transition into a less stressful salaried position. So instead of an antagonistic relationship between being a full-time employee vs. a full-time entrepreneur, I see a symbiotic one. As a result, I’ve developed a new way of looking at this argument. I’ve come to realize that no matter if I receive a W-2, a 1099, or a check written directly to the company I own, I am always working for myself and the next opportunity I desire to attract into my life
I don’t allow myself to stress out (or feel outside pressure) over whether I am working for a boss or working for clients. Regardless of the situation, I’m collecting experiences that can be leveraged later. Once I cast off outside opinions, I realized that my skills have uniquely positioned me with the ability to be able to play in two different types of sandboxes. I have diverse options to chose from when it comes to directing the way the rest of my career plays out. And I’m good with that!
Opportunities have a funny way of showing up when and where you are least likely to look for them. They are too special to be pigeon-holed, I think. So I treat every chance I get to practice my craft as an audition for my next opportunity, whether it is my next client or my next salaried position or a different option altogether.
Life happens in seasons and opportunities are usually for just a period of time. But there always comes a point when change is necessary. Often, entrepreneurs are afraid of transitioning into a salaried employee role and full-time employees are nervous about becoming a full-time freelancer. But once you realize that you have the tools to make either decision confidently, fear doesn’t have to be the deciding factor in your choice.
I’ve finally come to a point where I refuse to be “employee shamed” by full-time entrepreneurs (or even “entrepreneur shamed” by well paid full-time salaried employees). I’m in it for the opportunities I have to use my skills to make a difference in someone’s life or business and how my life can, in turn, be enriched because of it.
What do you think? Have you experienced pressure or negative feedback for being either a full-time entrepreneur or a full-time employee? What do you think about my concept of working for your opportunities? Chat with me on twitter to continue the conversation.