Some may say that independent-contractor thinking and business-owner thinking are both the same thing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We’re living in times when society is doing its best to influence us to work less and to have fewer commitments, less responsibilities, and less accountability. After all, there is a lack of responsibility, accountability, and commitment at the top of the government; this type of “stinking thinking” has been passed down to the day-to-day American, which has in turn led us to where we’re currently at as a nation.
In stark opposition to this attitude, I want to address a certain kind of thinking that gives drastically different results. In order to see how you get to this higher level of thinking, let’s start by looking at the different categories of employment.
There are five stages of employment, which many of us have gone through:
- Unemployed: 8.3% of America falls into this category. As you can imagine, it’s very problematic to be unemployed when you have a life and a family to support.
- Underemployed: This is quite a large group of people today. The waiter at a five-star restaurant who used to be a CPA or engineer but is now having a hard time landing a good job is underemployed; rather than choosing unemployment, he chose to be a waiter and make $65,000 a year with tips.
- Employed: This means you have a job that you’re pleased with.
- Independent contractor: You get paid what you’re worth in this category without a set schedule. Freelance graphic designer, realtor, life insurance agent, actor, musician, salesman, and photographer are all examples of independent contractors.
- Business owner: This category is a combination of an independent contractor mixed with a tablespoon of the predictable routine or schedule of an employee.
Having been in all of the five employment stages I can tell you that I learned a great deal from each level. But despite what we can learn from all the stages, most people have a desire to own their own business one day. You want to be a partner or a part-owner of a business, in a position where you’re involved in making decisions that grow the company to the next level; this kind of investment requires a different level of commitment than the first four stages.
Now let’s focus on the level of thinking associated with the last two stages. The real question is this: What’s the difference between the level of thinking or mentality of an independent contractor and a business owner?
Most independent contractors think that they’re business owners, but they run their businesses more like an employee does than a business owner. They wait for a financial crisis before going out and working hard to build up their cash reserve again. If in real estate, for example, an independent contractor will work extremely hard to land a few sales; but after making $35,000 in a month, they’ll be somewhat casual the next ninety days, thinking that they’ve already made it big. Once the money runs out, they start panicking and start working hard again. This becomes a cycles that doesn’t stop until they make a decision to start thinking like a business owner.
Conversely, there are many actors, realtors, and salesmen who are independent contractors but comport themselves as business owners. These people represent only a small percentage of the market place, and they are usually the ones who are the high-income earners.
Here are ten points that show a business owner’s level of thinking versus the thinking of a day-to-day independent contractor:
- A business owner shows up for work at the same time everyday unless he’s traveling or on the road. He has a set schedule and is predictable.
- A business owner invests money into his business.
- A business owner runs her own office.
- A business owner has a supporting staff. A personal assistant is a must.
- A business owner has a system for every aspect of his business in order to minimize clutter.
- A business owner usually has a certain set of numbers they track—sales, activity, follow up, profit, loss, etc.
- A business owner is a risk taker.
- A business owner does everything with a purpose.
- A business owner is constantly studying and reading to find ways to improve himself as a leader as well as his business.
- A business owner sets goals and pushes to the very end to achieve them.
If you’re an independent contractor reading this, you may see a few items on this list that you currently practice as well as several you need improvement in. I want to encourage you and challenge you to commit to thinking like a business owner in all areas of your business. You’ll see a dramatic difference in your business, which will in turn drastically influence your lifestyle. This higher level of thinking will get you that much closer to living your dream life.