Do you work for your business cover art

Do you WORK for your Business, or do you OWN your Business?

While it seems obvious upfront to determine whether you own or merely work for your business, there are some important distinctions that you may not recognize.

For instance, do you know the difference between being self-employed in your business and being the business owner?

While in both cases the business is yours, in the first, you’re putting in long hours working. In the second, you’re getting what is essentially a passive income.

As the saying goes:

"Are you working for your business,
or is your business working for you?"

This concept is vital to grasp as early as possible in your career. It will help you understand different business models and avoid future burnout.

Many equate being self-employed to being a business owner. But they are not necessarily equal in their implications.

Read on to discover the distinctions between different potential business models that you may encounter.

woman with open sign

Employee or Hired Independent Contractor

An employee or hired independent contractor is someone who works for someone else.

You may have been or still are one of these if, for instance, you’ve worked for a day spa or a chiropractor that isn’t your own private practice. You get paid for your efforts, but it’s always within the limits of a standard salary.

As someone in this position, you would work for someone who owns and manages their own business. While business owners pay associated expenses and taxes based on what you do for them, they receive additional perks for doing so:

Your work primarily benefits whoever you’re working for not only in terms of saving their time. You’re also contributing to them passively earning income.

According to Robert Kiyosaki, a financial expert, this type of work is what keeps you financially dependent. In this case, you’d be dependent on your employer for a regular salary in exchange for your labour hours.


Most massage therapists decide to be self-employed rather than working in someone else’s business.

Many are sole-proprietors of boutique bodywork businesses where they get to keep all their income rather than relying on a distributed salary.

However, self-employed individuals, similarly to employees, still trade their time for money. They are the only ones working in their personal business. This means that they don’t have any employees to dish out salary to, so they undertake all of the necessary tasks of their business by themselves.

man holding small business owner sign

Business Owners

Business owners crucially differ from the self-employed:

Their aim is to be able to remove themselves from their company so that it is not totally dependent on their time and effort. This means that business owners will typically hire people to work under them- including regular employees and even managers- to grow and expand their clientele without much effort.

In the profession of massage therapy, this would possibly be someone who started out as self-employed but is on track to scaling their business to include more employees or contractors under them.

Therefore, they’d be able to serve more clients and reap more profit while also dispensing salaries to other massage therapists working for them. For instance, they could open a clinic or spa with multiple rooms and workers to accommodate several clients. Whereas, they would not have been able to generate as much income as a solo-practitioner.

After successfully expanding their business in this way, a business owner could ultimately hire a manager or director to handle the business for them while they passively reap its benefits. This offers a lot more free time to seek other sources of income or spending more time focusing on their personal lives.


Investors are people who utilize their money to passively generate more money- such as the phrase you have to spend money to make money.

For example, people can invest in retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, or other businesses to continuously receive a monetary percentage in response to their money given upfront.

In Robert Kiyosaki’s book Cash Flow Quadrant, he states that to become financially independent means shifting from being employed or self-employed to becoming a business owner and investor.

Business owners and investors do not need to pay as much in taxes as employees or self-employed individuals. Therefore, they can keep more of the money they earn and speed their way to financial independence without reliance on an employer.

Avoiding Burnout

Several massage therapists are happy working self-employed. After all, it is quite an accomplishment to move from working from someone else to opening your practice.

However, being self-employed can sometimes lead to burnout. And it’s hard to see how burnout arises from not making optimal choices towards financial security.

Scaling your business so that you’re hiring employees to work under you can help you get a much-needed break from all of the labour. Additionally, doing so would mean you receive more take benefits and can save more of what you make each month!

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