The Difference Between Work at Home Jobs and Work at Home Opportunities

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I’ve been looking online for work at home jobs, and it seems like every one wants me to pay money. Are they all just scams?


While you’re surfing online for “work at home” jobs, you’ll see many ads from companies that require fees to get started. Keep in mind that these types of offers aren’t necessarily scams.

The company wants you to buy into an opportunity, as opposed to get hired for a job.  Granted, the company may be advertising in the wrong section…they should be under “Business Opportunities” instead of “Help Wanted” but they chose to post an ad where it would get the most views.  They’re also probably using phrases like:

Be your own boss!

Unlimited income potential!

Flexible work hours!

This alone doesn’t make them a scam, just inaccurate advertisers. There is a big difference, and it’s important that you know the distinction between “Jobs” and “Opportunities” before you go crying, “It’s a scam!” at every ad and website.

Jobs consist of work that you do to help an employer reach their goals.
Jobs may pay you per hour or per assignment.
Jobs may classify you as an employee or an independent contractor.
Jobs may allow you to work from home or require you to work at a specific location.

Examples of Jobs (either of the “employee” or “independent contractor” variety): Merchandising, virtual assisting, babysitting, online tutoring, phone book delivery, etc.

Pros of having a JOB

-You are not responsible for the overall health of the business.
-Can be consistent income with regular hours.
-Can come with benefits like paid vacation days or health insurance.
-May provide you with a sense of security in having a steady paycheck.

Cons of having a JOB

-The company could go under, merge, or downsize you at any time.
-Flexibility of hours is limited.
-Someone is constantly evaluating your performance.
-Someone else determines your hourly worth. (I hate this.)

On the other side, we have “Opportunities”:

Opportunities mean that you run your own business.
Opportunities require training in the industry.
Opportunities require that you find your own customers.
Opportunities may require a financial investment.
Opportunities usually pay on a commission basis.
Opportunities may have a residual aspect to your compensation.

Examples of Opportunities: Running a Subway™ franchise, selling Avon, Tupperware, etc., affiliate programs (selling on eBay™ or Amazon™), and running a website with ads on it.

Pros of having an Opportunity

– Unlimited income potential.
– You are your own boss and make your own hours.
– You can hire other people to do the grunt work.
– You can structure your business to run automatically, so that you make money 24 hours a day.
– You receive a ton of tax deductions.

Cons of having an Opportunity

– Most small business owners work much more than a 40-hour week, especially in the beginning.
– You are responsible for keeping track of your money and taxes and abiding by all laws.
– You may not be successful.
– Working on your own business is very solitary. You won’t have coworkers to chat with.
– You will have a learning curve (the products, the company, marketing, and advertising).
– There is always something new to learn to help your business grow, and you will always have to invest money and time into your business.

When you’re looking at job ads online, or happen upon a website that has job listings, keep these things in mind as you scrutinize the ads. Use your deductive reasoning skills and ask yourself: “Is this a job or an opportunity?”

Remember, companies like Avon require money to get started. Avon is not a scam, but it sure as heck isn’t a job. And, you never know…you might just find the perfect opportunity that fulfills you more than any job could.


Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company. Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!

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Additionally, while we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence, the content provided is a means to educate and inform and should not be a substitution for professional advice for your specific situation.


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