Why a nine to five job could be… perfect for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial journey - rant

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In 2019 it has become “cool” to say: “a nine to five job sucks, I am going to start my own business instead”. “Corporate jobs kill creativity”, “starting a business is easier than ever before” and “you can make millions in passive income”. While some of the above is true, it’s about time someone posted a rebuttal to a now common notion that a full-time office job sucks.

Here is an entrepreneur’s rant for “wannabe-entrepreneurs” and younger generations who are about to finish school/college and who are at the crossroads. Because starting a full-time job is often the best decision you can make if you want to be a founder.

Experience

You have probably heard by now that you need to offer some sort of value to your potential customer, for them to buy any product or service from you. Well, what kind of value could you offer if you have no experience doing anything even mediocre? Do you think you have really tried it all in the job market, just because you worked for 6 months at a coffee shop?

Stop and think again.

Of course you can start your own lawn mowing business. Of course you can deliver newspapers and try scale it up. But, guess what? So can virtually anyone else. The easier it is to do something, the more competition there is in the market. The more competition – the more you will have to slice your prices to attract new clients. If you have experience in a field that is more complicated, requires more thought process and is technically challenging, you would have obtained that unique value that you can offer to your customers.

Money

No money – no food. No food – you die. Simple. You hear and read stories about someone starting their own business, struggling for a bit, and then they make it. Guess what, that “bit” is the make or break period. And if you don’t have enough savings, and you can’t rely on your mommy or your daddy to give you lunch money, you will need to have a full-time job to feed yourself during that time. In many interviews, founders of larger or smaller businesses always skip through this part, and yet it is absolutely crucial.

They might say: “we went through some hard times, but then in October of 2017, we had our first big order”. Do you know how many people give up on their dream, before that first order that makes the business survive? No one knows, because we don’t like to talk about our losses, so this data is not recorded anywhere.

Yes, you can take a loan. Yes, you can use that loan to “stimulate” yourself to achieve an x goal. However, if you have a full-time job, this gives you so many more options:

  1. If you don’t care too much about earning money straight away from your startup you can experiment. This (hopefully) means that you won’t sacrifice quality for cash at the pivotal moment, and so you and your company will win from this crucial decision long-term.
  2. You won’t become depressed, simply because you haven’t had any traction for two months. Ideas that seemed genius at the start fail every day. Big deal. With a full-time job, it won’t cost you your house or your family’s well-being. And that’s priceless.
  3. If it doesn’t work out, you have a plan B. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that “fear of death” drives us to do the most remarkable things. In adversity, human mind works wonders. J.K. Rowling was a single mother, who was raising her kid in poverty when she wrote “Harry Potter”. Would she have been as inspired if she had a loving boyfriend, no baby to take care of, and rich parents? Who knows. However, not every writer is J.K. Rowling, and more importantly – we all fail. And sometimes a plan B – a.k.a. a full-time job – is what we need to fall back on, in order to get back up.
  4. You can save money to start a new business. This is perhaps the biggest selling point of a nine to five job. Saving enough money means that you could enter a harder market – i.e. a market that would require you to spend more than an average founder. But, this could also mean higher returns.

Mentor

One of the top tips for any entrepreneurs is always to find a mentor. If you go into finance, you should find someone who has been making money for the past 30-40 years, to learn their formula for success. If you start a pet toy shop, you need to find someone who ran a small shop previously, and either sold it at high valuation or who is still successfully running it ten years later. We all look for blueprints to follow, consciously and subconsciously. We want to hear success stories.

What better success story than your boss?? That’s right, your boss. The man or woman whom you have viewed as the necessary evil up until now. Ideally, your boss is someone who has their own business and who has been running it for some time now. If they have a business, and they could afford to hire you, surely they must be doing something right?

Here are the things you probably never thought of before, but that you could learn from your boss, no matter how much of an ********* (enter any swear word of your choosing here) they are:

  1. How to maximise profits and minimise expenses.
  2. How to find and learn from clients.
  3. How to start a business and not run it into the ground after two months. (Has it ever occurred to you to ask them how they got started?).
  4. How to hire the right people.
  5. How to stay lean. Believe me, no one more frugal out there than a successful small business owner.
  6. How to optimise your businesses for taxes.
  7. In some cases, how to scale your business.
  8. And last, but not least – you can also learn from their mistakes. Are they being horrible to their employees and so the latter keep quitting? Are they not listening and it’s costing their business? Good, you won’t make the same mistakes when you run your own business/

Your boss could be your best mentor. You don’t have to like them. They don’t have to like you. But their knowledge could be invaluable.

Network and clients

The right network could mean a jump start when you start a new business. Through your full-time work you can:

  1. Get to know high net worth individuals, who would be happy to buy a quality product from you, as money is not that much of a problem for them.
  2. You can gather insights into what it is they feel is missing from the market. This doesn’t mean that you should then go into direct competition with your current employer when you quit (in most cases this would also be illegal and, frankly, unethical). However, you never know what insight you could learn next time you do your sales call, or next time you do some side research for that annoying manager. A full-time job could be the best source for new ideas and their validation.

The choice

Having a full-time job also gives you perspective. BEING A FOUNDER IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with wanting a full-time job. Running a startup involves so much stress, strain on your relationships with your loved ones and so much grind, that you will miss your a**hole boss at the end of it. If that doesn’t scare you…that’s because you haven’t tried it yet.

If you have a full-time job and then also during your free time start a side hustle, this will let you judge whether that side hustle can replace your current full-time job. You can’t tell “how it makes you feel” until you experience it.

So, experience it all. If you are lucky, and you get your break on the first try or you know early on that you want that corporate grind OR the startup sweat – good for you!

If you are unsure, the above is as good of a roadmap as any. Thousands of founders started their current businesses as side hustles, while doing the full-time jobs. Here are just some of them: Steve Jobs (Apple), Kevin Systrom (Instagram), Sara Blakely (Spanx), Kevin Plank (Under Armour), Julie Deane (The Cambridge Satchel Company), Ryan Hoover (Product Hunt).

Not a bad company to be in.

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