Some people see a job as you against the boss. You’re working for the “bossman” in an arrangement where you do what is needed to satisfy him, always counting the minutes until quitting time. Country music is full of songs about this scenario such as Johnny Paycheck’s “Take this Job and Shove It” and Alan Jackson’s “It’s Five O-Clock Somewhere.” He is the one making the money, then paying you a fixed salary or paying you hourly. The bossman gets rich while you struggle to make a living off of what he gives you.
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If that’s the way that you view work, you’ll never really be happy at work. You’ll see it as a J O B and always be waiting for Friday or the next holiday. You’ll probably also not be as successful as you could be, because you won’t be doing the things you need to really be successful. You’ll be a worker for the boss instead of an owner. And is this really what a job is?
Another way to look at work
Just because your boss may sign your paycheck doesn’t mean that your boss is the source of your salary. Your boss does not create your income, you do. The money for your salary comes from you doing useful things that you then trade to your customers in exchange for money, which you can then trade to others for things you want. Your boss doesn’t pay you for working. Instead, you pay your boss a portion of the money you make in exchange for your company coming up with an idea, setting things up, doing the paperwork, and advertising. Your company should be making it possible to make more money per hour working at your job than you could make if you were simply working on your own. Your boss should be earning his pay, not the other way around.
For example, let’s look at a cashier at a McDonald’s. If you take all of the money that McDonald’s makes and divide it by the number of workers they have, you’ll find that the average amount made per worker is around $13.50 per hour. This means that for an employee making $10 per hour at the front counter, she is getting $13.50 from the customers she is serving, is keeping $10 and paying McDonald’s $3.50 each hour she works. She could be producing something and running her own business, but by working at McDonald’s she doesn’t need to worry about coming up with something that will sell, attracting customers, setting up a location, paying vendors, taking care of the paperwork, ordering products, advertising, getting the support staff needed, and doing all of the other things needed when you run a business.
She just goes to work when scheduled and collects $10 for every $13.30 she makes. She is paying her boss $3.50 to take care of the rest. Not only does this make it infinitely easier for her, but she is able to do something that is proven to make money. She could try something else on her own, but she doesn’t know how many customers she’ll get or how much profit she’ll make. In all probability, unless she has a great idea and executes it well, she’d probably make considerably less than the $10 per hour she could make by working at McDonald’s. The $3.50 she needs to pay to her boss is worth the price if the company is well run and has a good product.
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A different attitude
Looking at work as an individual using a service supplied by your boss should change your attitude in many useful ways. The first is in how you approach your job. If you are just working for someone, your goal is to please your boss, doing at least what is needed to keep him or her happy. As long as the boss is happy and you don’t get fired, you figure that you’re doing ok.
But if you’re now working for yourself, the ones you care the most about are your customers. Why would you worry about pleasing your boss since he is just another supplier. Sure, you want him to be satisfied enough to keep providing your with the service, meaning you’ll follow the rules and not do anything to make him upset, but the customer is the person you should focus on. Happy customers mean more visits, more sales, and more customers. More sales means more profits. More profits means the potential for you to make more. Conversely, having unhappy customers means fewer sales, less money, and a chance that you could lose your job because there is not enough work to keep you paid. In the least, the chances of you making more go down with fewer customers.
This will drive you to think about the experience your customers are having and how you can improve it. It will drive you to try to sell more. For example, as a cashier you might suggest additional items to order. It will make you make sure everything is right and will cause you to have less patience with coworkers and others who don’t give it their all. After all, these are your customers and your money we’re talking about. It will also encourage you to improve yourself through training and experience to become better so that you can increase the amount you’re making.
Another change is your relationship with your boss. If you’re just working a J O B, you might be happy just doing what you’re told and making it to closing time. As long as your boss doesn’t cause you too much grief, you’re happy. If you’re working for yourself and your boss is supplying a service, you want him to earn what you’re paying him. You won’t put up with him not doing the things like managing execution and taking care of suppliers the way that he should. You’ll also be constantly looking at what you’re paying him and what he’s providing and comparing it to what you could get elsewhere. You may discover that another boss only takes $3.00 per hour and provides the same level of service. In that case, you fire your boss by quitting and change jobs. Always be looking for the best opportunities.
What about insurance and benefits?
A lot of people view benefits as something their company provides to them. Some view them as almost a right, or something that should be a right. But where does the money for benefits come from? It comes from your customers, as part of the pay you receive for your work. So you don’t get health insurance from your company. You provide a portion of your pay to your company who goes out and sets up insurance for you. In most cases, your company is actually the one paying your medical bills. They just hire an insurance company to take care of the distribution of payments and paperwork for them. You don’t get a free car, you just have the company buy a car that you get to use and accept a lower salary because you get a car. The same goes for “free” cafeterias, “free” daycare, and “free” company clothing.
Knowing this, does it really make a lot of difference whether your company pays you in the form of benefits or if they just pay you more in salary. For example, let’s say the company provides a lunch for “free” as a benefit. While this may seem nice, you could probably buy food yourself and bring a lunch and have more left over if they just paid you what they were spending for the cafeteria, plus you would get to choose what you ate. The good thing about the company providing health insurance is that they spread the risk out over the whole company, meaning you’ll see lower rates than you would see if you were to buy individual insurance in the existing marketplace. However, while you’ll pay a bit less when you’re older with the company insurance than you would if you found a policy on your own, but by the same token you’ll be paying more when you are younger than you are likely to use in health benefits during the early part of your life. Company health insurance costs are based on the health of the whole company, instead of the risk for individuals in the company. For this reason, health insurance for companies made up of young, healthy people will be less than those made up of older, unhealthy people. This is why a common health benefit for many companies is a gym membership or workout facilities.
If you had the ability to buy insurance in a marketplace like you buy car insurance, where basically everyone bought insurance on their own and insurance companies covered large groups of people and assigned premiums based on the risk of each individual rather than determining the risk from a single whole company and charging everyone the same amount, when you were young and healthy you would be able to find cheap insurance in the individual marketplace. As you got older your insurance rates would go up, kind of like how teen-aged drivers and very old drivers are charged more for car insurance because as a group they’re more likely to have an accident. For health insurance, however, this would be at a time in your life when your income was increasing as well, making it more affordable. This is one of the few things that would be cheap when you are young and can’t afford much. Not spending the extra money on health insurance would allow you to save up more and invest, invest for retirement, make a bigger home down payment, and invest more in health savings accounts for when you were older and healthcare costs were higher. Note that “free” insurance from the government would be like the company plan but be so full of waste and abuse that you’d be paying more overall than you do with the company plan, plus involve a lot of red tape.
Putting you attitude into action
Now that you realize that you are the one generating the money that you’re taking home and that your company is providing you a service in exchange for a cut of the money you’re generating, it’s time to put that new attitude into action. Ironically, it will probably mean that the company will get a better employee out of you since you’ll be focused on delighting their customers because they are really your customers. And since you’re paying your company for their system, use what they give you in terms of training, products, and techniques to increase your sales and income. But you should also be working to increase the amount that you make by getting the best deal you can from your boss. Make sure they are earning their cut and go to someone else if they can provide equal or better results for less.
The amount you can make is limited by the quantity of what you can do and the value of the products you can provide. You can increase this through training and education. Learn valuable skills through college, trade schools, company training, and even just reading and researching on your own. If you can use tools that make you more productive or do things that few can because they don’t have the training, you can increase the amount that you take home. Your company’s cut is relatively fixed so the more that you can generate, the greater percentage you can take home. You might even learn the skills needed to become your own boss so that you can keep all of it, or hire other people to work for you and take a cut of what they earn.
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Disclaimer: This blog is not meant to give financial planning or tax advice. It gives general information on investment strategy, picking stocks, and generally managing money to build wealth. It is not a solicitation to buy or sell stocks or any security. Financial planning advice should be sought from a certified financial planner, which the author is not. Tax advice should be sought from a CPA. All investments involve risk and the reader as urged to consider risks carefully and seek the advice of experts if needed before investing.