It’s the age old entrepreneur’s dilemma: “I have a job, but I also want to be my own boss/found a company/pursue my passion. Of course, I also don’t know that I can give up the security of a full time job in order to pursue my dreams, what do I do?”
This question is posted in the subreddit for startups probably every single week, and many more times across forums and blogs dedicated to internet marketing and entrepreneurship. Everyone wants a magic answer, or the nudge they need to tell their boss where he or she can stick it, as they strike out on their own, destined for great things. The truth, however, is something that no one really wants to hear: you should do both.
At least in the beginning, the best balance is to sacrifice other areas of your life to pursue your self-employment goals while at the same remaining secure in your employment. Believe it or not, the reasoning for this extends beyond the financial. Often, one of the things people realize when they start pursuing both options at once, is that there is amazing potential for the cross pollination of skills between both pursuits. Skillsets you develop when working on your own and with more freedom and choice of tasks may teach your new skills that boost your on the job results. Likewise, your current role will likely offer you skills and expertise that you can carry over to your freelance and entrepreneurial pursuits.
Additionally, many people can use this lifestyle as a stress test to figure out how bad they want to live the life of an entrepreneur. The truth is, those that are successful in this lifestyle often work far more hours per day than those who work a 40 or 50 hour per week job. When you continue regular employment and have to come home, tired, and still pour in several hours to your own business, you’ll start to get an idea of how badly you want it. If you find yourself unable to rally from 6pm to 11pm every night, you might be getting an indicator that quitting your job to pursue what you thought was your goal could have been a huge mistake in the first place.
Now, there are exceptions to this rule, just as there will always be people who are exceptions to any mantra or rule, written or unwritten, that will ever exist. That said, many people seem to not be able self-audit and realize that it is the exception, not the norm, that someone can jump straight into their entrepreneurial pursuit, throw caution to the wind, and come out on top. Ninety percent or more of startups fail, and your own personal brand, be it for freelance, affiliate marketing, or otherwise, falls into this category.
Of course, you may just be the exception that proves this entire sentiment to be invalid in your life, so don’t take anyone else’s word for it, right?
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