Oh snap, you’ve officially become torn between holding down a job or starting your own business.
What to do??
I’ve seen this conundrum play out hundreds of times, and hopefully this experience can help guide your decision. Read on my friend…..
1.) Good parts about owning a business:
Running your own business is super glamorized because people see all the good stuff about it…..and to be honest, there ARE a lot of good things about it:
When you’re running the show, you get to do ANYYYYTTTHING you want! Do you want your “global headquarters” (aka you with a laptop) located on a beach in Costa Rica? Cool…..go!
You get to write off a shit-ton of stuff on your taxes. You even get to save more money by being a business owner (a normal ROTH IRA allows you to sock away $5,500/year in savings tax free, however a business SEP IRA allows you to sock away $53,000/year. That’s 10x more. Giggity).
You get to be your own boss, call all the shots, decided what you want (and don’t want) to do everyday. It’s 100% up to you.
Many first time entrepreneurs go through this short-lived euphoria of setting up their business and it’s exciting and fun!
This is known as the “Playing Business” Phase. It’s where you get caught up in making business cards, making overly-complex business plans, thinking of incorporating an LLC, hashing out who’s gonna be your C.T.O. and C.F.O. and Chief Whateverthefuckyouwant Officer.
And by all means, you SHOULD enjoy aspects of this!
But it also doesn’t make you ONE GODDAMN DOLLAR.
Soon this “Playing Business” euphoria starts to wear off, and reality starts to set in. In whatever business you go into, there’s going to be a lot more unexpected expenses and hassles than are generally reported.
It kind of goes like this:
I have a friend who runs a big commercial real estate company. It would seem like an envious and glamorous position to have millions of feet real estate under management, but if you were to go work for them, you would see the most whackadoodle shit of your life. Tenants do some WEIRD things, people file dumb lawsuits, drunk drivers literally run into your buildings, homeless people setup camp inside buildings, insurance companies use borderline illegal tactics, people steal stuff, city regulations are always changing, moving a toilet and faucet for a tenant can cost more than $30,000 in plumbing alone…..it’s just one thing after another.
It’s never straight-and-simple as it seems.
2.) Bad parts about owning a business:
This would be a good place to start talking about the NEGATIVE sides of owning a business.
You tend to only see the highlight reel of someone’s life.
For example, this is a pic of me enjoying the fruits of my labor and being able to splurge on a zero gravity flight where a plane (which astronauts also train in) flies in parabolas over the ocean and creates a “weightless” environment:
Pretty sweet huh? That flight wasn’t cheap, yet the disposable income from my business allowed me to do it without thinking much of the price.
….and in this picture below I took a two-week-long workcation to Thailand. Here I am working in a hammock on a private beach:
Owning a business seems pretty fun huh? It’s the life!!
What I don’t show you is that for every 1 cool picture like that, there’s 5 or more boring pictures like this:
That’s a picture of me at work, in a dark-ass office, all alone, at 1:45am, on a Tuesday night. That night I was tired, had eyes that hurt from looking at a screen all day, and seriously didn’t feel like doing any work……but guess what, I had to….because it’s 100% up to me to get things done.
Yeah. That part sucks, but it’s never pictured. Owning a business doesn’t seem so great at that moment.
But people cherrypick what they choose to view something as.
It’s great working on your passion or working for yourself…..but there WILL ALWAYS be sour patches in the journey. Lots of them. The most successful people I know have one thing in common: They simply work a ton. That’s it.
Yet that “boring” part of owning a business is rarely focused on.
I pulled these quotes from some of my notes from interviews where people ask about a work/life balance:
“How do you balance your work and personal life, and take care of yourself?”
“I’m not currently performing a set of actions that will maximize my life expectancy.”
Question asked to Neil DeGrass Tyson:
“How do you balance your work and personal life?”
::he laughs hysterically:: “I don’t. If I achieve a balance, then I’m not working hard enough.”
Question asked to Mark Zuckerberg:
“How do you separate your work and personal life?”
::he laughs:: “I don’t.”
The answers they gave all elicited laughs from the audience, but behind those answers are people who essentially work nearly every waking hour they have.
When a lot of people think about owning a business they imagine freedom, money & passion…….not 24 hours a day of work.
3.) Good parts about having a job:
This part should more accurately be called “Good parts about having a GOOD job.”
If you work in fast food, I imagine based on industry turnover rates that job isn’t too great after a while.
However if you’re something like a highly paid engineer or software developer or sales person…..life probably isn’t THAT bad!
A steady job can provide you all sorts of sweet stuff:
- Steady Income.
- Learn new Skills.
- It’s hard to F-up TOO badly.
- Learn how large companies operate.
- Show up from 9-5 and take home a check.
- A balance between work life and personal life.
I think one of the greatest benefits of having a job is the stable income:
Stable income is great in a lot of ways. You can measure out exactly how much you can spend, therefore you can plan & prepare very well. You are pretty much guaranteed this income.
You don’t have a feast-or-famine mentality like you sometimes get in a business.
It would seem that if you: Work with people you like + Working on projects you like + Get salary/perks you like = You probably like your job.
I actually don’t see the problem with having a job like this. In fact I know tons of people at great companies who like their job at around an 85% level, and live a great life because of it.
4.) Bad parts about having a job:
There’s obvious downside of having a job:
- Scheduling always revolves around your job.
- You’re sometimes forced to do things you don’t wanna do.
- You’re sometimes forced to work with people you don’t like.
- You’re often pigeonholed into the same-old-same-old work everyday.
- You get a stable income, but the potential for that number skyrocketing higher is very low.
Being forced to interact with people you don’t like + Working on a project you don’t like = You probably hate your job.
As with anything in life, there’s positives and negatives. And despite all the good things a stable job can bring, it’ll also bring some bad things.
5.) Risk tolerance:
A lot of young people working at a company will say this line: “I don’t want to be like those old people who’ve been working there for over 30 years!”
But that’s not looking at it correctly. Those “old people” are in their 50’s and 60’s and are trying ride out the cushy gig they’ve got going. They treat their job as a way to earn money and live a nice life. What’s wrong with that?
If you’re young, hungry and aggressive…..then perhaps that lifestyle isn’t for you YET. But stack on 20 years of life experience, get a spouse, pile on some kids, get roped into a mortgage and maybe the view will change:
It really just depends which stage in your life you’re at. The guy above needs some serious cash flow coming in to support his family, and he probably spends most of his time in one place near his home, and he probably prioritizes family above work……so maybe he WILL want to ride out a cushy job for all it’s worth. A stable 9-5 job is probably ideal for this guy at this stage.
However if you’re freshly out of college and wondering what to do in life, assuming you have low financial burdens, you can pretty much DO ANYTHING YOU WANT for a few years with very low consequence.
All through college I had little side businesses going, and I was also WAY more frugal than I am now, so I saved nearly all my money.
By the time I graduated college, I had built up somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 in savings to live on. My rent at the time was something like $320/month, and I had extremely minimal monthly expenses, so I could theoretically live for 1-2 years pretty comfortably off that money and still have some leftover.
So while everyone was busy getting jobs after college, I was able to just “test the waters” with entrepreneurship before I got a job. I already had business(es) going at that time, and they were making money, so I wouldn’t suffer any downsides by taking this path (like going totally homeless).
So going the entrepreneur route for me was actually NOT a risky move at all.
Some people think I riskily dove off a cliff into the unknown waters of business……but it’s more like I slowly walked down a staircase into the water, AND had a life jacket on (my savings account), AND had a lifeguard in case things went terribly wrong (my parents).
6.) What to do if you’re curious about starting a business:
Without fail, this is the specific path I’ve seen for people who’ve successfully transitioned out of their jobs:
Keep job –> Work on side project in spare time –> If it gains traction, go harder –> Quit job when side income becomes greater than job.
I’d say there’s an 80% chance of you actually not enjoying running a business at all, or not willing to push/sell hard enough to make it. If you can’t successfully run a business “on the side” then you probably won’t be able to run one full time either.
You have to be CURIOUS and WORK HARD at whatever you do, and expect that you might not make money for a loooonng time.
What if I told you the “marketing blog” you’re starting will NEVER make a cent. Ever. ?
Would you still do it? Would you still slave over posts at 3am trying to make them perfect?
A lot of people want to follow their passion, but ALSO expect it to make hella money. These are conflicting views, as your passion may not always make you a lot of money.
But also without some passion, it’s unlikely you’ll push hard enough to make a business.
Here’s a thought experiment:
There’s two YouTube channels started on the same day:
CHANNEL 1.) A grown man starts a YouTube channel because he saw that some YouTuber’s make lots of money…..so he starts doing product review videos and putting a bunch of affiliate links in the description. He hopes his new YouTube channel will also make him millions.
CHANNEL 2.) A kid in his parents house who is absolutely obsessed with tech gadgets, computers, and programs makes a channel for fun where he reviews tech and does tutorials on hundreds of programs. He does it for fun and it’s his hobby. Making money from it never entered his mind.
Which of these two YouTube channels will end up succeeding?
Channel 2 is the answer.
Here’s a real life example of that:
This is Marques Brownlee. He’s been one of my favorite tech reviewers on YouTube for years. He produces super high quality gadget reviews, has good opinions about new tech stuff, and gets access to all these gadgets before they come out:
He’s super influential with 3.5million+ subscribers. I was surprised to find out that currently he’s only 22 years old. One would surmise that being such an influence in tech AND so young: “This kid came out of nowhere!!!”
However if you look back on his YouTube channel, it goes back over 7+ years to when he was 13 years old…..and he did literally HUNDREDS of tech reviews and how-to videos per year since he was 13!!!!
See his oldest vids sorted first: https://www.youtube.com/user/marquesbrownlee/videos?sort=da&flow=grid&view=0
Seriously, check out his old archives and click “more videos” to see them all…..it’s literally HUNDREDS OF VIDEOS PER YEAR.
Clearly this kid had a passion for reviewing and showing off tech, and also one hell of a work ethic to consistently put out this many videos by himself, in his spare time.
So is it really any wonder he’s one of the top tech reviewers today?
Is it really any wonder the guy that posts 4 tech reviews and amazon affiliate links gets frustrated “he made zero dollars” and promptly quits?
I can’t wait to see Marques’ face when someone asks him “How did you get 3,500,000 subscribers so quickly?”
His answer will hopefully be: “I consistently filmed, edited, and published over 2,000 videos over the course of 8 years.”
I’ve done the “passion” thing before, and I’ve done the “let’s just grab some money” thing before. They both work if you’re willing to put in a lot of effort:
When I started NevBlog I didn’t realize it would lead to other stuff. It’s just that blogger.com was an easy way to keep track of monthly finances in chronological order. Even in the darkest, backest, dustiest corner of my mind ever think NevBlog would make a cent. I updated that blog for YEARS just because I wanted to track stuff, stay accountable, and remember what the hell I did the prior month.
I even have an ultra-old website Neville1.com that dates back 16 years to the year 2000 where I posted articles and pictures using Microsoft FrontPage 1997. It was a hobby. It was fun to me.
So when people ask me about how KopywritingKourse got to become such a large blog so quickly…..I don’t think of it like that. I think of it as a slow 16 year progression starting with some dumb personal website I made as an experiment and continuous improvement ever since.
STRAIGHT UP CA$$$SH:
A business I started in high school and made money all through college for me was HouseOfRave.com. I drop shipped rave gear. I didn’t give a CRAP about raves, I’ve still never been to one till this day, However I was totally in love with eCommerce and being able to sell stuff online. HouseOfRave was started out of pure curiosity to see if I could start an eCommerce business.
It quickly started making money, however it never gave me as much joy as other hobby projects. I kept it around to make money.
By doing something on the side, you will quickly figure out if you love it or hate it.
Many people romanticize the idea of owning their own business. Many want to “be a blogger” and in their head imagine some nomadic lifestyle with money magically pouring in.
I’ll hardcore push these people to START their own blog, even if it’s ghetto at first. Normally at this point they spend 90% of their time doing dumb stuff like picking out a blog theme or obsessing which email service provider to use in the future when they have 800,000,000,000,000 subscribers.
Almost without fail, within a month they’ve stalled out.
They stop blogging because they quickly realized they hate it.
We’re humans and we tend to romanticize what it’ll be like “on the other side.” We see only the positive aspects, but until we experience those negatives, it’s difficult to realize those negatives even exist.
It’s hard to figure out what you like.
It’s easier to figure out what you DON’T like.
I really really really expected myself to become a doctor when I was in high school (after all I AM Indian). It just sounded cool to be a doctor, so I enrolled in this program in high school where I got to leave school for 3 hours every-other-day and shadow different doctors.
I think it was around the 6th week of shadowing doctors that I ABSOLUTELY KNEW I would not enjoy that work.
It just wasn’t for me. The empathy required, the paperwork required, the rules you have to follow, the amount of caution you need at every step, the amount of studying biology involved…..I could just tell my personality at the time would NOT have fit into that profession.
I still didn’t fully know what I wanted to be, but I sure as hell knew what I DIDN’T want to be. I could clearly tell that I was not willing to dedicate the next 10 years of my life to enter that profession.
Knowing this saved me years of time in college (had I not done that program, I would have enrolled in a pre-med course and wasted years of time).
“Bro….you haven’t answered my question. Should I get a job or start a business??”
Here’s my ultra-short answer:
If you have job + love it = Stay at job.
If you have job + hate it + curious about business = Milk your job long as you can and start something on the side.
If you don’t have a job + don’t have a business = Try both.
Try a bunch of things on the side. Remember, it’s easy to find out what you DON’T like.
What others think about it:
My opinion is well…..just ONE opinion. Here’s a few other viewpoints on keeping a job vs starting a business:
Download this entire post for your own files:
- How I make money (video): How I’ve managed to make money without ever having a job.
- How to scam someone: Why some people get sucked into thinking “a business” is the only way.
- Consulting as a side job: If you want to “try something on the side” might I suggest starting with consulting? It’s profitable, low risk, and can be done while still working a job.
P.S. I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing people’s stories or opinions on this subject. Comment below letting me know which you think is better (Starting a biz -or- having a job)? What did you choose your path, and why??
P.P.S. I will be sending someone a Copywriting Starters Bundle (Worth $95) for completely free to anywhere in the world for their comments!