If you read a lot of business and entrepreneurship blogs like I do, you’ve probably noticed that almost every article out there glorifies quitting your day job.
Quit that soul sucking job of yours and call your own shots!
Why work for someone else when you can be your own boss?
Fire your boss and live happily ever after.
Here’s the thing. Even though my blog is called “My Wife Quit Her Job”, I’m actually not “anti day job” at all. In fact, I’m a strong proponent of working full time for someone else if that’s what makes you happy.
And I can definitely see the merits of working for someone else versus being your boss.
If you’ve followed my blog for the past several years, you’re probably aware that I work a full time job as a microprocessor designer and I run 3 online businesses at the same time.
In fact, I’m kind of in this unique position to talk about the pros and cons of owning a business vs working for someone else because I do both every single day.
And here’s the truth. There are some days where I think entrepreneurship sucks and there are other days where I think working for someone else sucks. And then there are days where I think both suck:)
Anyway, because there is so much anti day job sentiment out there, I thought that I’d chime in and provide my own take of the pros and cons of working a day job versus running your own business from the perspective of someone who does both simultaneously.
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The Pros Of Working A Day Job
One thing that I truly enjoy about my day job is that it allows me to do things that I would probably not be able to do as a small business owner.
Designing computer hardware and microprocessors requires a lot of up front capital to start. And not only is it challenging from a technical perspective, but the large scale projects that I work on often require a lot of infrastructure and collaboration.
In fact, the scope of my hardware design projects are so large that there’s no way that I could afford to do them on my own without a huge infusion of capital and manpower.
The other thing that I like about working for someone else is that I can almost completely check myself out when I’m not in the office. For example when I go on vacation from work, I’m truly on vacation. I don’t feel obligated to do any work and I can fully relax and enjoy myself.
And of course there are always the other perks associated with working for a large corporation such as health insurance, benefits, a consistent paycheck and a whole gaggle of coworkers to hang out with.
The Cons Of Working A Day Job
But on the flip side, relying on your day job as your only source of income is not only risky but nerve wracking as well. Recently, we had a small layoff at my company and one of my friends/coworkers was one of the victims.
Here’s the sad thing. A few weeks ago, this coworker and I just had this long conversation about the skyrocketing costs of going to college. His daughter was starting college in the fall and he was barely going to be able to scrape by with the large quarterly tuition payments.
And then BAAM! One morning he showed up to work and noticed that the door to his office was locked and then he was promptly escorted out of the building.
His steady paycheck instantly vanished just like that. He went from earning a healthy salary with benefits to ZERO INCOME!
The reality of any day job is that you can be released at any time. And you are at the mercy of your boss when it comes time to get evaluated for raises and bonuses.
So far, I have been extremely lucky to have great bosses as long as I’ve been working but I’ve heard many horror stories from other less fortunate employees.
The reality is that when you work a day job, you have very little control and your situation can instantly go from good to bad at the flip of a switch.
The Pros Of Self-Employment
The best part about running your own business is the potential money to be made. In fact, every one of my businesses makes a lot more money than my J-O-B today.
Unlike a day job where you get a constant paycheck and puny raises every year, the amount you can earn with your business is directly proportional to the amount of work you put into it. And that’s why I love it so much!
With a day job, you’re always going to be paid roughly the same amount whether you bust your ass or not whereas you get to reap 100% of the fruits of your labor with your own business.
Most importantly, running your own business forces you to learn how to sell and make money on your own without the help of a large company infrastructure.
Plus, a nice byproduct of all this learning is that it boosts your confidence and self-esteem.
Here’s a little secret. Even if I lost everything tomorrow, I can confidently say that I could pick myself back up and get back to where I am today within a few short years.
Why do I feel that way? It’s because running my businesses has taught me how to sell and market myself effectively which are skills that you WILL NOT learn at your day job.
In fact this is why most people who get laid off and can’t find another job often struggle to make ends meet. The same people who thrive in a large company environment with lots of infrastructure often find themselves helpless without it.
Running my own business has taught me how to make do with very few resources and unlike a day job, I know that my revenue will not disappear over night because I can not be fired.
The Cons Of Owning Your Own Business
Now that you’ve heard the good things about running your own business, here’s the sucky part.
I’m always checking my smartphone. I’m constantly thinking about my customers and I’m constantly thinking about my employees as well. Of course this could just be my personality but I care more because I own it.
Sometimes I can’t go on vacation without being tempted to check up on my sales and to make sure that everything is running smoothly while I’m gone. (See This Post Where I’m Checking My Email On The Dumbo Ride At Disney World)
And here’s the truth. Because I run a public blog that directly discusses the growth of my online store, I often feel pressured to demonstrate consistent growth every single year. It’s almost like I’m running a public company without it actually being public:)
Sometimes when I go to sleep at night, I ask myself how much money is enough and whether I should continue to spend all of this effort trying to make more.
Should I just grow the business for the sake of growing it? Or should I just cut back and enjoy what I’ve got?
This is the trap that most unhappy entrepreneurs get caught up in. They grow their companies just for the sake of growing it. They grow it because of their pride. They grow it because of their thirst to create something huge.
And what ends up happening is that their business ends up consuming all of their time.
All of my businesses already make me more than enough money to cover my family’s living expenses and my kids’ college tuition. I don’t spend much money at all and I don’t have expensive tastes.
The hardest part about owning your own business is not letting it run your life. Growing any business past a certain point is extremely stressful and my main issue with self-employment is the struggle in attaining a good balance of lifestyle and profit.
The Status Quo
In my current situation, I have decided to work full time and run my businesses on the side because there are elements of both that make me happy. And thus far, I have managed to do both without impacting my lifestyle and family time.
Even though I’m forfeiting a certain amount of control by working for someone else, I don’t really need the money and getting laid off wouldn’t be that big of a deal.
These days, whenever someone asks me whether they should quit their job and start their own business cold turkey, I often tell them not to quit .
Start your business on the side while you are working and then make the decision later. For a lot of people, the ideal of running their own business often clouds the reality of doing so.
There are definitely pros and cons to both and despite what you read about online, you can live a happy life doing either.
Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.
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