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Is a Salary Better Than Owning a Business?

The compensation of a business owner includes more than just a salary. It is important to consider that when assessing total compensation.

Salary and Benefits Form a Compensation Package

Employees are rewarded with more than just a salary. Most compensation packages include a number of tangible benefits that the employer pays for. These benefits can include paid time off in the form of vacations and holidays, or health insurance that is offered and often subsidized by the employer.

The value of these benefits can usually be precisely identified, but there are other benefits that are more difficult to assign a value to. The security of employment in a large company or with a government agency might have a significant amount of worth to some employees, for example, but the precise dollar amount of job security can be difficult to define.

In addition to the advantages that benefits provide, almost any employment opportunity will carry some disadvantages that detract in some way from the experience. This could be the rigid hours of attendance required for some workers, or an inability to implement their own ideas and earn unlimited rewards for others.

Tangible and Intangibles Define Business Ownership

Self-employed persons will need to assess the tangible and intangible components of their compensation when deciding whether or not the business opportunity is rewarding. They will also need to consider the disadvantages of business ownership, which can include the risks that arise solely from the ownership of the business.

According to government data, “Employer costs for employee compensation averaged $31.09 per hour worked in March 2013. Wages and salaries averaged $21.50 per hour worked and accounted for 69.1 percent of these costs, while benefits averaged $9.59 and accounted for the remaining 30.9 percent.” It might be difficult for a small business to provide equivalent monetary compensation, but there could be other benefits that the owner values more than money.


Michael Carr is a small business expert who has been involved in the successful development of three small businesses.