I’ll admit it. I’m a giant fraidy-cat when it comes to the subject of entrepreneurship. It’s not that I don’t believe in taking risks – I just question if the risk is worth taking.
Even after starting this blog one year ago and feeling the sweet success of having it make more money than any of my other side hustles, I still struggle to believe that it could make me any richer or provide me with more security than my real job. No question about it.
Does that mean I don’t have the burning passion to grow a new business, create something from nothing, build a name for myself, and make a ton of money in the process? Absolutely not! I want to do all those things! But I have and plan to continue to do them at my current job. And here’s why …
Your Job is Like “Entrepreneurship Insurance”:
“People mix up entrepreneurship with risk-taking, … An entrepreneur is a risk-minimizer, an opportunity seeker.” – Peter Farrell
The thing I struggle with in entrepreneurship is that no matter what, you will always answer to one ultimate boss:
• The customer
That’s right – No matter what kind of business you start, nothing will ever come of it until you have satisfied your customer. Your customer is the ticket to sales and income. Without the customer, you have nothing.
So if you draw a flow diagram of the two possible situations, here is what you have:
• The Customer -> Your Employer -> You
• The Customer -> You
When you illustrate things like this, does it not stand to reason that “Your Employer” could be thought of as a layer of protection? An insurance policy if you will?
We all drive cars, live in houses, and live our lives with insurance policies. So why would you NOT want some type of insurance policy on your career and income?
Things You Don’t Realize About Entrepreneurship:
I know exactly why people jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon: It’s probably great if you can make it work! Here’s a few highlights of the benefits:
1) Potential for more or unlimited money
2) Ultimate decision making over what you do and don’t do
3) Setting your own hours
4) Knowing you can never be fired
However, there are also a lot of reasons why start-ups fail so often:
• Because people are not prepared for it to be so hard.
Yes, starting an entrepreneurship is A LOT of hard work with a lot of potential for problems:
1) You’re responsible for everything
2) You’re always on call
3) All the ideas come from you
4) If there are no sales, it’s your fault
5) If there are no profits, it’s because you mis-managed things
6) You can hire people or outsource jobs, but that just cuts into your profits.
7) Even if you do hire others, how do you get them to care as much as you do?
8) Even though you can never be fired, you can still fail! So do you REALLY have security?
Practicing Entrepreneurship within Your Job:
I’ve always felt blessed that job has a lot of autonomy – I have the ability to do things on my own.
It wasn’t always like this. It took a long time. I had to work my way up from the bottom, prove my worth to my superiors, demonstrate that my ideas will work, and most of all – make the company a lot of money.
But along the way, there have been a lot of great things: I’ve made million dollar deals, traveled to different places, made relationships with people I would have never met, helped others excel in their careers, made a lot of money for myself, and best of all – created real things from just ideas.
The only difference was that I did all this from the safety and security of a job. If I didn’t make the deal, I still got a paycheck. If my idea didn’t work, I still came to work the next day. I realize all those things happen in an entrepreneurship, but I would argue that the risks were probably far less.
Your Job Can Be Your Entrepreneurship Guinea Pig:
Just like a job uses you for what it needs, so should you with your job. At your job you should have the ability to practice whatever skills you think you’ll need to accomplish whatever it is you want to later in life.
Do I want to be an entrepreneur someday? Absolutely. But I probably wouldn’t think to try it without first having practiced my skills over years of development within my real job.
If you can’t or are not able to do these things at your job, maybe you need to consider switching positions or even changing jobs.
Being an Entrepreneur Takes a Special Person:
This post was not a knock against entrepreneurs or what you do – I really do respect you and hope for the best.
This post is about approaching this subject from a different perspective. Not all of us can make that leap of faith and leave it all behind. Sometimes we can’t see an opportunity where the risks have all been mitigated.
But I don’t think you need to do things on your own order to experience the same sensation and accomplishment that comes from creating something from nothing. Your job can be a training ground for testing your ideas and developing your skills. Learn a little bit about yourself and your abilities before you take the plunge. If you’re already thinking about it, you know you’re going to someday.
Readers – Are you a born entrepreneur or afraid to jump into the pool with both feet? Do you feel like there is more than one way to experience entrepreneurship, or any benefit to practicing your skills on your current job first?
1) Status Update – Being Fired Over Facebook Rants
3) Embrace That You ARE in Sales
Photo Credit: Unknown
Budget & the Beach says
Well I had no choice but to be self-employed when I was laid off from my job. It was sink or swim. I’ve learned so many things the hard way since I wasn’t prepared, but I’m proud of myself for surviving! It’s been four years and although I’m looking for a full time job (freelancing is just to unstable for me), I can’t believe I’ve managed it for so long! I agree in practicing being self-emplpyed while you are still employed. And learn to live on 1/2 your income!!
I’ve got to give you props for trying! My sister does a lot of freelancing, so I hear a lot about the instability of the income and don’t blame you for looking back to full time work. But that’s still cool that you’ve been able to make this work for 4 years! There’s something to be said about having the enthusiasm and drive to make the best of things after you lose your job and decide to make a go of it yourself.
[email protected]&More says
I would love to own my own business one day… well I guess I do own my blog already. I definitely enjoy it as a side gig right now. I would need to get 1000x more comfortable before I ever decided to jump in with two feet though.
Yeah, I guess we are business owners on account of our blogs, aren’t we?? One LLC later and you could have an official ML&M LLC. Despite some minor success with the blog, I’m with you that I’d need to have 1000x more confidence that things will persist and remain sustainable. To be honest I’m not sure how some of these other bloggers pull it off – good for them if they’ve found the secret formula! Some day I’d like to transition my financial ambitions (whether its still in blog form or other efforts) into a full time business. But not today…
Modest Money says
I’ve jumped into entrepreneurship with both feet in the past and ended up having to swim back to shore for the income security. It is quite satisfying when a business can work out, but it takes a lot of work and sometimes luck. I definitely agree with using your job to build future business skills. It’s a big reason why I shifted my career to focus mostly on online marketing. I knew if I could get good at that it could be the launching pad for future businesses.
Something tells me you haven’t lost the hunger for future solo projects! And you’ve got the entrepreneur attitude – just because you fail once doesn’t mean you can’t try again. Who cares if you use your job as your training ground to build skills and a reputation over the next few years. Your employer uses you just as much as you use them, so there’s nothing wrong with making it count. I think its a very smart move and it will probably be a better gain for you in the long run.
I think you make a great point about not always having to do it all or nothing. It is smart to keep your current job, not only will you have some security you can learn from your boss and other co workers.
Definitely! What better way to learn about entrepreneurship or running a start-up than to actually work for one (or a company that treats their business units as such). You might learn just as much about what “to do” as you learn about what “not to do”. If there is any skill you can “practice” at, its dealing with people and how to get what you want from them.
I think I WAS a born entrepreneur, but then society scared the living bejeezus out of me and made me want to cling to the security of a “real” job with benefits and a steady pay check. I like the idea of working hard enough to practice entrepreneurship inside your current job. I imagine it’s more possible in some careers than others.
There’s nothing wrong with benefits and a steady paycheck! Many a couple have retired on that combination!
Absolutely some jobs are easier to do this than others. It all depends on what your field is and how open to new ideas your employer is. At the end of the day, most businesses are interested in growing and making more money. So if you’ve got something that will help out 1 or more of those criteria, I’m sure you can make a pretty strong case!
Veronica @ Pelican on Money says
As someone who has failed in a startup, I can tell you how difficult it was to try to find anyone nearly as motivated as myself to care enough to do diligent work. Without pay = no motivation. People often say.. oh.. pay is not everything, but believe me – it is. The difference between promising an employee a share of the company and paying him $120 grand is like night and day.
Thank you for the honesty in this Veronica! I fully agree that money has a lot more to do with it than most potential employees let on! Anyone who doesn’t entertain this is just kidding themselves. As sad as this sounds, if I ever did start my own business, I’d probably go solo just because I know there’s no one that would be into it more than me!
Kathleen @ Frugal Portland says
I’m with you, except I’m not interested in this full-time thing because I love my day job.
Thanks Kathleen! You can still use a part-time job to gain skills just as much!
I’ve been an entrepreneur as well as an employee, so I can share my experience from both angles.
It’s great experience to be in business of your own. But, you can get fired there as well: Not by your boss as you are the boss, but by your ultimate boss — your customers.
I agree with you that having an employment allows you to take more risk as you can survive without any income from business.
I really like your take on how you can mold your job experience to prepare yourself for your entrepreneurial journey.
Thanks Shilpan! You’ve validated the point I was hoping to make the most pronounced: Even as an entrepreneur you still have a boss – the customer! And a lot of times that customer can be harder and meaner than any boss you’ve ever known. That’s why its called taking a risk – you never know where the wheel will stop and what you’ll land on. Your job can be a great way to practice these habits and refine your ability to handle customers. The only thing more challenging than that is to learn how to handle your co-workers! 🙂
I like your take on it! Some great and refreshing points. (I definitely admire entrepreneurs but personally am of the totally wrong persuasion for it.) I love my job, get paid decently and enjoy the (relative) security. But I know that I’m in a field that is conducive to freelancing (though it’s hard to make a decent living as a freelancer) in the worst case.
Thanks! I think some types of jobs are better cut out for this than others, but that doesn’t have to stop you from trying. Rather than just earn a paycheck, I believe we can all use our jobs to learn a little bit about ourselves and play rehearsal for someday when we “want to be in charge of the show”!
[email protected] says
People forget the benefits your company pays out that’s not included in your calculations. Let’s say you make $50,000 but your benefits cost the company $15,000, that’s really $65,000 you’ll need to make up.
My company benefits are very generous and their payout is 45% of my salary, so I would really have to consider a lot before I ever left.
Very good point Charles! I too receive some pretty outstanding extras (healthcare, 401k profit sharing, etc) from my employer that would it extremely hard to bring up the difference if I were to try to go for it alone.
What is your main line of work? Is it a lot different than blogging? Interesting to see the contrasts between blogging and people’s career choices.
As a matter of fact it is – I’m a test engineer.