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Saturday, June 6, 2015

Living on the Dark Side... An Expose' about Working for Yourself

Sorry Star Wars fans... this post is not about Darth Vader being my father or flying the Millenium Falcon into battle against the Death Star.

I entered and have been living on the Dark Side for many years now starting back in June 2002.

Going to the Dark Side is an expression used in my past career circle when a life time corporate employee leaves the security and insanity of a corporate work life and seeks employment as a Contractor (1099 employee), an Independent Contractor (self employed) or starts a business on their own.

Since June 2002, I've worked for a Technical Services firm or for myself in a variety of jobs with varying durations.

So what are the in's and out's, pro's and con's, do's and don'ts of this type of employment?

First off, sometimes it's not by choice that you find yourself on the Dark Side.

This is the age of Corporate Downsizing and Restructuring where perfectly good employees sometimes find themselves out on the street.

And quite frankly, sometimes it's the best thing, as the people that I know that have remained in their corporate jobs are faced with longer hours, more responsibility and stress for the same or less pay.

Corporate jobs offer a given pay which is usually significantly less than that of a contractor but offer far more benefits such as subsidized health care, vacation, 401k, matching savings contributions, etc.

However, in my case anyway, it came with a given set salary, and work weeks that could vary from no less than 50 hours per week up to 70.

Corporate jobs are also notorious for the amount of time spent doing non-productive work such as attending safety or communications meetings or training or attending other people's meetings.

You also have to go into an office and an office environment, which entails preparation, clothing, commuting time and of course, office politics.

You have to wade through 100's of emails and get dozens of distractions everyday, such that of the 12 hours you end up being away from home, you end up getting about 4 hours of work done.

It's hard to figure out precisely what you need to do, it's called Scope of Work, because there's usually too many Chiefs and not enough Indians, so by the time, you go through the 22 discussions, 6 meetings and 47 emails, you're too fucking tired and disgusted with the whole situation to have any creative, productive energy left.

Ok, maybe I'm being too harsh on Corporate America and Working for the Man.....

Let me think for a second.....

No... I'm not... it's even worse than I've described.

Now working for yourself is no cake walk either.

First off, you have to hustle your own work.  Your boss doesn't call you in once a week and give you a "To Do" list.

Everything is self motivated and depends on your own actions.

Hopefully, before you leave or are discharged from your corporate job, you have developed a skill set and enough contacts / potential clients to allow you to get started on your own.

A standardized "Independent Contractor" agreement must be signed with each client that defines the pay, payment frequency, Scope of Work, duration of the assignment, etc.

Your pay should be significantly higher than your corporate job, at least 50%, because you have to provide everything yourself - Office, Office Supplies, Computer, Software, Health Insurance..... and you have to pay your own income tax, social security and medicare quarterly....

Oh and your social security is 15.64% of your adjusted gross when you are self employed vs 7.65% when you are working for a corporate entity as they subsidize part of your social security payment.

But it's not all bad.... the work assignments are typically much better defined and shorter in duration so you focus on productive work and specific deliverables with a minimum of lost time doing anything not directly related to your work.

You can often set your own schedule and work from a home office.... which frees up a lot of time.... for Life and Living.

There is absolutely no security in working for yourself, but these days there's not much with corporate America either.

It just depends on what you want and what you're willing to sacrifice.

I realized quite a few years back there was never gonna be enough money to retire on.

I would continue to have to work so I made some adjustments.

I cut my budget down to just the bare necessities.

I changed where I lived so that vacation was a matter of walking out my front door.

I freed up time to focus on my health, fitness and lifestyle.

For me the Dark Side has turned out to be a.....

Source of Freedom and Enlightenment.

Just what Yoda would want.

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