Entrepreneurship or Employment – Which is better?

S and I often pass time asking each other random questions. One afternoon over lunch, he asked me, “What, according to you, is the most boring job in the world?” I thought for a while and then replied, “I’d hate to be one of those lift operators. It’s like the dullest job in the whole, wide world. Imagine spending the whole day going up and down the lift…I really cannot imagine a more dead-end job than that.” S chuckled. “I think most of my friends need to hear this. They keep telling me that I am so lucky for not having a regular 9 to 5 job!”

Both, S and I, hail from business families and S works in the family business. I have my own private practice as a counselling psychologist, but I’ve held jobs before finally beginning my entrepreneurial journey. Having my own private practice ensures that I have flexible working-hours customized as per my requirements. I take vacations when I need to, and I have the choice of how, when, and with whom I wish to work. While all this sounds like a beautiful dream, contrary to what a lot of my peers, friends, and colleagues think, it’s not really such a glamorous picture. For starters, I may not have a boss, but I am answerable to my clients who rely on me for emotional support. I travel – but it’s not always as a tourist; sometimes, it is to be a part of workshops and conferences and it’s not usually a relaxing affair – don’t let the destination (Goa, Bali, etc.) fool you! It’s often a more expensive affair than if I was going to these places on vacation! Also, it’s not easy. When I worked at a job, I had a certain number of leaves I was entitled to and could use up as per my own convenience, and I still got a fixed salary at the end of the month. As someone running my own practice, each day that I decide to not work means that a certain amount of money is not coming my way. Also, there is no certainty to the number of clients I will have all the time – there are weeks where I have too many to handle and I find myself even juggling weekends, and then there are dry spells where I only have 3-4 clients in a week. Yet, I love what I do, and it feels amazing to be doing something I love…I really have no complaints.

“I guess people don’t like their jobs because they do not like the work they are doing,” I said.
“It’s always good to do meaningful work. Sometimes, you don’t enjoy the work you are assigned to do, but it still needs to be done. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a job just for the money, and then using that to pursue your interests,” quipped S.
I asked him, “Do you enjoy the work you do?”
“I knew I walked right into this,” S smiled. “Before you accuse me of evading the question, let me put it this way: I help run the family business, and it is definitely not a job as interesting as yours, but it helps me maintain the luxurious lifestyle I am accustomed to; I get to take vacations; and since I am my own boss, I enjoy flexible working hours which is how we end up meeting for lunch so frequently. I don’t necessarily love my job, but it helps me lead the life I want. Also, there are some jobs that just have to be done – if you aren’t doing it, you will hire someone else to do it, and you can be sure that it isn’t their dream-job either.”

I just had to laugh at the last bit S said. Growing up, I know that no one ever dreams of working at a desk just transcribing some files or calling people to sell them products or educating them about services. Yet, they are jobs that do need to be done. And there are some jobs we all have to do whether we like it or not. For instance, S still has to go for client-meetings and interact with potential buyers at conferences which he hates to do as an introvert. I hate the mundane task of documentation post my session, or keeping a track of receipts, yet it is something that must be done, and a task that cannot be always assigned to someone else.

I have interacted with a lot of people who are not able to manage the high stress-levels of their jobs and, therefore, want to quit and start something of their own without having a real picture of the skills they need versus the skills they have, or without having the discipline required to be an entrepreneur. There is no substitute for hard work ever. There are so many motivational speeches online which, in my opinion, falsely propagate that working a job means settling for less, and not working towards your dreams. There is nothing wrong with having a job. The booming of the start-up culture, to some extent, has also led to misplaced feelings of dissatisfaction with jobs. There is nothing wrong with not aiming to start something of one’s own and just wanting a promotion.

The world needs entrepreneurs just as much as it needs good employees. If one’s motivation to become an entrepreneur is along the lines of “I want to be my own boss”, “I don’t wish to work for someone else”, “I am tired of being ordered around”, it’s time to re-evaluate. Pick the right reasons for starting your own business – is there something you love doing that’s not being done already and know of a way to make it scalable enough to create wealth, opportunities and a positive impact?

Being in a job does not mean you’ve settled for less. If you have a job that pays you well and gives you time to do the things you love and lead the life you desire, don’t fall into the trap of feeling dejected just because you are working for somebody else. If you don’t like your job, it’s okay to switch and explore until you find something that works for you. It does not have to end with you starting your own business or having to do your own thing.

No matter what you choose to be – an employee or an entrepreneur – there’s no right or wrong…Just a world of different possibilities. How does it get better than that?

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