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Salary

Average Salary: $74,460

Expected Lifetime Earnings: $3,108,000


The best and worst part of working for yourself is naming your own salary. You can pay yourself whatever you want, but making sure the check doesn't bounce is where the rubber better not hit the road. It's your own business, so you can sell products and pocket the money, but you'll run out of products pretty fast. You could take the profit and buy more products, but then how do you pay for that big power dinner you've got with that investor next week? Better not take a paycheck this week.

Yes, you do pay yourself a salary. Not because it's fun to play “Oh hello excellent employee, here is your humongous paycheck with a big bonus, just because I like your face” but because the IRS wants to know. And your bookkeeper or accountant (who are not volunteers, unless you are paying yourself to do that, in which case, maybe put that salary off another few weeks) will tell the IRS how much you paid yourself because you don't have the time. You may not see a salary for the first five years of your businesses life. You'll have money; you just won't be able to spend it wherever you want. You will be feeding that oversized infant you gave birth to when you got your Taxpayer ID (you did get one of those, right?) and your incorporation papers and your DBA account and…well, never mind. Get used to making sandwiches before you head over to the couch to start your day.

The most important tool is a clock. If you are not getting a paycheck, you are investing your time. Once you decide how much your time is worth, you'll know when you've won.

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