This is one of those conundrums that so many of us face at different phases of life, the classic job vs business dilemma. Whether you are graduating from college, are fed up with your job, or your last business went bust, it’s pretty likely that you must have gone through this thought experiment at least once in your life.
The majority of us are sorta clueless as to what they should get into, why they should get into what they are getting into, and should they make the switch from job to business or vice versa at a later point in time and all those questions.
So, let’s discuss the pros and cons, the good, the bad, and the ugly about both of them which should answer more than 69.42% of all your queries.
Keep this in mind that I will only be able to provide a general picture of the scenario. The real ground situation may or may not be 100% similar to what I say as they are subjected to a bazillion other factors that are out of the scope of this article.
Also, this article is not meant to bash the job culture or glorify the entrepreneurial or the business culture as social media has been doing for the past decade. My job is to simply present to you both sides of the coin in the simplest of manners to help you make better decisions that suit your life.
FACTOR #1: TIME
Most jobs are pretty straightforward on this end. They come with a predetermined schedule clearly outlining the number of hours required for you to work.
You do your time, you get paid. Do overtime, you get overpaid. Do undertime, you get underpaid.
Now, there are some companies that are only concerned with the amount of work you are able to pull off. This means that the more efficient you are, the faster you will get the work done, and the sooner you will be free.
But the general trend is that you have to work a fixed number of hours in a day with little to no flexibility in time schedules.
This is where it gets tricky. There is literally no set playing field when it comes to business.
You can be both super busy and super free depending on what kind of business you are in and what sector you are operating in and most importantly how you are operating.
IF you are a solopreneur or self-employed, you are gonna be working round the clock and it’s really likely for you to remain super busy. You’d only make money for as long as you are working, just like a job, until you transform your work into systems and processes.
If you are running a startup or are planning to start a startup, then even though it may vary for different people, those who actually took their startups to some insane heights worked like crazy. People like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates were work machines back in the day pulling in 70-100hrs/week(Musk still is).
And then there are also people who play the smart games, the passive income game, where they build some assets which give them passive returns. This is the more time-friendly option, relatively. Of course, to build those assets you need to spend a lot of time in the beginning and then some more time to maintain them.
If you are someone who wants to live a balanced life, a uniform life, who can’t live in a disciplined manner on their own which is why someone else handing them a “schedule” works well for them, then Job is probably the right choice.
On the other hand, if you feel confident enough that you can manage your time well, and feel like you want to carve out your own timetable according to your own needs and desires then business is probably for you.
FACTOR #2: MONEY
When it comes to a job, you kinda hit a ceiling as to how much you can earn. You just can’t expect to grow your earnings by 10x or 20x while working in a job, unless you are the CEO or at some other senior management level with some stock options.
You might be growing at a rate of 100% in terms of your skills and the value you provide, but it’s almost unlikely that your salary is gonna increase at that pace.
Though what’s assured here is a fixed salary at the end of the month irrespective of whether you grew internally or not, as long as you don’t stop being a valuable asset to the company. You will remain tension free financially if you are fulfilling your boss’s expectations.
When it comes to business there is no ceiling. You get to play in the infinite playing field where there are no boundaries or constraints.
99.999% of all the wealthy people, leaving aside the CEOs of big companies, on the planet are associated with some kinds of businesses only. You just can’t achieve this kind of wealth from a normal job.
Having said that, you also have to bear all the risks. One month you might be netting north of a million dollars and the very next month you could go out of business.
If your dream is to earn a shit lot of money, maybe to just afford a luxurious lifestyle or to boast about it to the society or to change the world or to simply help others, whatever the reason, business is seemingly the better option.
Exponential growth is possible in business but not in a job. The latter takes time and patience to reach anywhere worth reaching. But if your business clicks, then the returns are just on a whole another level.
But if your motive is to live a simple and moderate life, to earn just enough to meet your needs and your basic desires, to live a relatively more steady life, then a job seems like a good shot.
FACTOR #3: Freedom
When it comes to a job, you are bound with either the system or a boss. You can’t make any radical choices in life as per your own wish unless you wanna be handed over a pink slip of course.
Your boss would probably only trust you as far as he can throw you, not more than that. So, you will always be under someone’s purview and would have to act in a limited field.
If you act like a rebel doing what you feel like, defying the orders you don’t think are worth your time or energy, then you are gonna be looking for a new job.
Again, I am talking about a general case here which may or may not exactly depict your scenario. New startups and some multi-billion dollar corporations might give you more flexibility and freedom to play with, but they can’t be absolute.
When it comes to business, it’s kind of a double-edged sword.
On one hand, I can tell you that you will be absolutely free to do whatever you want, you’re not answerable to anyone, and yada yada yada. But on the other hand, I also can’t deny that you are gonna be bounded in a whole another way.
You are gonna have to keep your employees happy, your customers satisfied, your colleagues fulfilled, and your investors content which may or may not end up screwing your own freedom in the process.
So, you see, it highly depends on how you work things up. There are a lot of uncertain variables in play which is why one can’t precisely determine what’s gonna be the end results.
While a business can either give you a dangerously awesome level of freedom, it can also trap you in a rather serious cage where you end up trying to pacify everyone. A job on the other hand is surely gonna restrict your movements to a certain extent.
Having said that, if you are a free thinker, who wants to keep on exploring new dimensions, try new methods, learn new skills, apply different techniques as per your own whims, then doing a business is the clear winner here.
FACTOR #4: CREATIVITY
If you leave aside the top 1% of companies or the new cool startups, the majority of job opportunities don’t actively need you to think creatively.
You’d be more like a cog in a giant system that will be expected to work in the way the company sees fit, and if you try to act creatively, you might be repressed for doing so, or worse, expelled.
When it comes to business, you have to be creative every waking second of the day. It’s not a tip, it’s a prescription. The day you stop being creative in the business world, is the day you start digging your own grave.
There are gonna be new challenges, new sets of problems, new types of issues propping up every goddamn day. And these kinds of problems will be totally different from what you faced in the past, which naturally demands new solutions and creative thinking.
If you are someone who wants to face new challenges every day, brush up your thinking ability, and feel a kick giving your creativity a run for the money, then starting a business is the apt choice for you.
And if you are someone who wants to chill and relax and doesn’t want another headache of “thinking” something new and creative all the time and want to follow a set pattern and routine, then getting a job is the clear winner.
FACTOR #5: UNDERSTANDING
If your understanding of how humans function—what makes them tick, what they fear and what they desire, how their emotions work—is top-notch, then starting a business will work wonders for you.
After all, businesses may run on numbers but it essentially is a people’s game at the end of the day. You gotta understand what your customers need, what your colleagues expect, and what your employees want to run a business smoothly.
So, if you are compassionate and empathetic and understand people’s needs, if you can put yourself at someone else’s place and see what he is going through, then a business is for you. You have to forget about what you think will work and dissolve your own ego and look at the problem from the perspective of your clients.
The understanding part is actually necessary to live a happy life and it will surely come in handy while doing a job too. In fact, we all must strive to understand better, but you should not even think about getting into a business if understanding is not a strong point of your and all you can think about is yourself.
So, don’t think of a business as your desire-fulfilling Aladdin’s lamb, you will fail brutally. But if you take business as a desire-fulfilling Aladdin’s lamb for the people around you, then you can do some real shit.
FACTOR #6: Simplification
Ask yourself, are you the kind of person who has a nag to make even the simplest of things into the most complex of situations? Are you someone who makes a mountain out of a mole?
Or, are you someone who likes to take things artistically and make even the most complex of issues into the simplest of things? Are you someone who always finds the easiest and the simplest way out?
The thing is, the world is already complex AF for most people, and it doesn’t really need any more of those who are gonna aggravate the issue, so if you belong to the former category, then you shouldn’t think about doing a business.
Solving a problem is not enough, how you solve the problem is even more necessary and if you can look at the problem in an artistic way and come up with an easy and effortless solution, then you should definitely give ‘business’ a shot.
Every problem has multiple solutions, and if you are the kind of guy who is only interested in solving a problem in the same way the whole world is trying, then business is not ideal for you.
FACTOR #7: HAPPINESS
At the end of the day, you can be working on a 6-7 figures high-status job and still hate what you are doing, and you could be working on your startup, barely scraping the ends of the barrel to meet your needs but still be happy AF.
Conversely, you could also be working as an intern and be the happiest person on the planet even if you are getting a limited salary and you could be the owner of a multi-million dollar corporation but still live a lifeless life.
SO, you see, happiness is a metric that matters the most at the end of the day. It can be extracted by doing either of the things. No matter what, don’t compromise on this factor. As long as you are happy doing whatever it is you are doing, you are gonna be fine.
And the happiness factor will depend on who you are and what you are doing. Job or a business, the thing that falls closer to who you really are from within should be pursued if you want to be happy.
FACTOR #8: STRESS
Many people out there say that a job is more stress-free when compared to doing a business. Here’s the thing, in my humble opinion, I think it all boils down to how much do you believe in what you are doing and how much are you in love with it.
I have seen so many people who work at a 9-5 and are under immense pressure and stress, and I have also come across many people who work round the clock on their own venture but are enjoying every last second of it.
Having said that, stress and tension at an optimal level is not only good but also necessary to be at our best and function more effectively. Leverage them, but don’t let them leverage you.
FACTOR #9: RISK
Sure business looks riskier on paper. But you know what’s even riskier than business? Choosing a job just because you read somewhere on the internet that a job is safer than doing a business.
At the end of the day, nobody can tell you for sure which is gonna be better for you. Only you can be the judge of that based on your past experiences and analyze your personality and then see which suits your needs better.
Doing a business because everyone is doing one and it’s the new hip thing is as stupid as doing a job just because everyone around you told you to get one or else your future won’t be secured.
Ultimately, nothing beats self-awareness. You gotta understand who you are from within, what you want from life, and the most important one, why you want what you want in life.
Before choosing any of them, take a piece of paper, and write down your reasons for why you wanna start a business or why you wanna do a job. Take some time off. Go to open spaces. Meditate on your decision.
80% of all the people who have a job are not satisfied with what they do, and 9 out of 10 businesses fail within the first 3 years. Also, Sundar Pichai and Tim Cook work in a company and earn hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos who run their own businesses, are on the top of the list of the richest people on the planet.
So you see, there is no such thing as a better choice between job or business. Both have their own pros and cons, positive and negative. You have to decide which one is the more suitable choice.
Both the fields have the potential to take you to heights you never even dreamt of, so it’s up to you, how well do you understand yourself and how smartly and intelligently you work.
Also, remember that this is not a one-time test. You can always switch your paths if you are not happy with where your path is taking you.