Several years ago I wrote a Medium article that received over 5,000 views since it was published about whether or not to work a full time job or just create a consulting business. It was just my thoughts on the job search in 2018, being over 50 and looking for work, and the general considerations of looking for work in general in the US, which pardon my English, just sucks.
Since then I have dug in deeper within the consulting services I offer, a partnership in Pre-Dating, the largest dating event business in the US, as well as a growing software business related to SEO, SEO Turbo Booster, that I need to nurture right now!
For me, a real job is out of the question while I work on these businesses. But I always yearn for a 40 hour work week and stability. And why? Because in the end going to work from 8:30am till 5:30pm means you can shut down your brain by 6pm and the weekends and you sometimes get medical benefits. Those are the big ones that I miss… but that is it. Everything else is much, much better in my life, especially my attitude.
I just think it is better to be happier and a little less rich, than hate what you do, for just a little bit more.
When recently I joked with my software tech partner, who runs a multi-million dollar dev team, that I may have to get a real job if our sales don’t come in, he responded to me “So you don’t think this is a real job?”
And that is how I like to keep it. If I keep thinking what I am doing, which is running both software companies and consulting businesses and still think this is not a real job, I am already winning. Feeling like you are playing around and having fun is what you want to feel, not that awful feeling you are about to go into 5 corporate meetings in a row, in small conference rooms with people that all would rather not be with you!
What is interesting is I am now making my businesses work for me financially, which means I won’t be back to full-time work any time soon, unless it is for my own company or one about to be funded.
Here is my original article I wrote:
In 2016 I started to write a bunch of blog articles about the process of looking for work, especially when you are over 50 and covered some of the do and don’ts. And I got a lot of great comments about my experiences. Here are links to those articles if you want to read them. How To Find A Job When You Have Been Off The Market And You Have Hit The 5 Ohs. And I Am Working Now, 5 Oh And Out. Then over the next year or two, I was able to land a bunch of great positions, both consulting and full-time.
So, I am back out on the market and looking again (well not now). Also, since I have written several short books, mainly on Internet startups and online dating, I started to write a book about how to get positioned on the Internet for work using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) called Go SEO Yourself. It covers what you need to being doing online to be able to be found and keep working. It covers everything you need to do to get work both as an employee or consultant.
Using SEO to find work means getting work by being found versus applying for jobs. Because I was too busy with work to finish that book, it was not until my day job ended recently that I started to really finish the book, and it will be completed sometimes this year. I personally find writing blog articles and books as a way for me to get my knowledge level and basically figure things out. Just like this article’s main question, should I work full-time or be a consultant?
Would love to have your opinion on this!
As you know many large employers will want to hire you as a consultant, at least for 6 months. Smaller and medium sized employers tend to want to hire direct. Right off the bat, it would always seem that being an employee is the best option. At least this could be driven with the biggest issue of them all, healthcare. Now that I am back out on the market looking for another employer to take me on, I have to make sure our family is covered for health insurance. So, for me being a consultant seems to be a problem, and we don’t have serious health issues in the family, but I can imagine if we did, we would probably be stuck!
I have been in both full-time and consulting roles over the years and most recently have gone back and forth between both states, and honestly there are benefits to both.
But let’s just look at the options and why we would consider one or the other. The issue really is, do we have the choice between the option of being an employee and being a consultant. It is not always something we can control. But if you could control the choice between the two, let’s look at the ups and downs.
Benefits of being a consultant:
Freedom to not have to be on the clock: Being a full-time 40 hour a week employee means you are typically locked in. A consultant does have some flexibility with timing, but there is also the fact that a consultant may have to work late into the night on projects.
Freedom in General: Seems like the moment I am working full-time for an employer, there is an immediate difference in how you are treated and what you can do is limited to the structure of the organization.
Ability to Negotiate Hourly Rate: At times in my career I wanted to be able to raise my rate as consultant. You can negotiate your pay as a consultant, but once you are hired full-time, you have little to no negotiating ability for salary. You would need to wait till the end of the year or in some cases never.
Tax Benefits: As an independent consultant you typically have your own LLC or Corporation and you have the ability to take tax write offs against the business. Seems like the new tax bill will be better for those with a corporation than without one.
Benefits of being an employee
Less Unpredictability: Being an employee there should not be the unpredictability of consulting. I have had to fly out to remote cities as a consultant and meetings and projects can happen almost instantly. Full-time employee status means you know what is about to happen.
Benefits: Benefits are by far the main reason to be an employee. Unless you are building out a very large consulting firm with tons of employees who work for you or you can demand a very high hourly or project rate, then benefits can be as much as 30% of the value of working for a large employer.
Job Flexibility: I found while working as an employee I was able to flex and change and move into different job functions, especially at a large employer. At one employer working full time I had 7 job titles and departments in 4 years. As a consultant you typically are locked into a narrow scope job.
Management Skill: As a consultant, you rarely can be a manager, director or VP or CEO and very rarely will you be developed for management (if it still exists). Being a consultant means you will not be going to personal development training or management training. You will have to read articles like this one to get yourself trained!
I am sure there are a dozen reasons for one or the other. It is still clear to me that working as an employee is the better situation. Maybe it has more to do with where you are at in your career (if you are not starting up a business). If you are about to have kids and start a family, obviously being on a corporation’s medical insurance is probably the biggest factor in why you would want to be an employee and not a consultant. If you had kids and they are long gone and you don’t have a major medical problem, then consulting could be the way to go. Let me know what you think. I personally could be working as either in the next few months.
Either way tell me if you would rather work full-time, consultant, or run your own business (which could be just being a consultant!).