It sure seems like everyone is running their own business now, doesn't it? At least, if you spend a lot of time online it does. People are freelancing, running "side projects", or in the middle of launching a new startup.
If you aren't your own boss yet, there are plenty of business books telling you how much you should be. You should be trading in that 40 hour week for a 4 hour one, and sitting in a hammock on the beach while your new business makes millions in passive income.
Yet at the same time, do you know a lot of people who aren't constantly complaining about work? Or even worse...bragging about the 80 hour weeks they put into their startups? It seems like in one breath we're saying how much we'd never want to go back to a "regular job" while at the same time becoming nostalgic on how simple it was in our parent's day.
In all of our rush to become the next self-made millionaire, we rarely take the time to make sure we're willing to pay the price and take the risk to achieve this unlikely goal.
One of the things that the internet gives us is access to billions of stories we would have never heard in the past. This knowledge is a double-edged sword. Being able to see 10,000 examples of people who have made millions of dollars with just a good idea and a little luck can be incredibly inspiring. So inspiring that we forget about the millions of examples of people who barely make $10,000 with a different good idea and a little less luck.
Human beings seem to favour potential over promise, which more often than not gets us into trouble. It's a pretty safe bet that if we invest $1,000 and have a bit of patience, it's going to be worth more when we retire. However, since there's a microscopic chance that if we buy a $5 lottery ticket we could become instantly rich, we waste far more than $1,000 chasing that dream.
The same thing holds true for jobs. If I take a job with a well established company that pays $40,000 a year, I won't immediately become rich. Heck, I may never get a decent raise, and never see a 7-digit net worth. But, if the company stays around (I know that's not a guarantee like it used to be), or if I can transition smoothly into a similar job elsewhere if needed, money will keep showing up in my bank account every 2 weeks for the rest of my working life.
Instead, we blindly jump into these business ventures because there's the potential for much more. We're tired of working "for the man". We want to work the hours we choose, take time off when we want to, and give ourselves the chance to make it big.
Let's take a plumber as an example. They're really good, and so they get told they should open their own shop. They're great at what they do, so why wouldn't they? Their boss is sitting around "doing nothing", getting rich, while they work hard for a small paycheque. They don't realize that once they make the move, plumbing is now 1 of 10 different jobs they're expected to perform each day. Before they were the best at what they did. Are they the best bookkeeper? The best marketer?
I think people forget the end game of running a business. People who run plumbing businesses don't fix toilets. They run businesses. They hire plumbers, and they probably know a lot about plumbing...but plumbing is no longer their "job".
If you are really good at managing people, dealing with stress, managing money, and creatively solving problems, you should definitely open your own business. If, however, you are really good at a specific skillset, whether it's plumbing, marketing, or teaching, but not at those other skills, then you should find a place that pays you well to do what you do best.
Here's the part most people won't tell you. A lot of the employees who are really good at their job are making more money than their boss...and go home at lot less stressed out each day.
There are many sites out there, including my own most of the time, that will tell you how great it is being an entrepreneur (I still believe it is), but I thought it was important to let you know the other side of that coin.
Running your own business isn't the only choice, or the eventual decision we all must make. Sometimes "just" being an employee is the best decision you can make. Whatever you decide, just do what makes the most sense for you and your family, and do it to the best of your abilities.