So you’re sitting at a major career crossroad. You know you can’t continue in your current career but you’re not sure about the best next move to make. Should you start a business or get a job? On one hand, you love the safety and security that being an employee brings, but on the other hand, you’re also drawn to the complete autonomy that being your own boss provides. What should you do?
The truth is that only you know the answer to this. But if that answer is completely eluding you at the moment, here are five key questions that could help you to finally make a decision.
Are you a risk taker or avoider?
It’s no secret that starting a business is one of the riskiest things you’ll ever do in your life. Even if you copy a ‘foolproof’ business model, there’s no guarantee that your business will actually take off as expected, because so many factors determine commercial success. Research by the Small Business Association (SBA) shows that 30% of new businesses fail within two years, 50% within five years and 66% within 10. That suggests one thing: your business is more likely to fail than succeed.
And because it can take years to break even, you will have to invest a lot of time, effort and money into your business without knowing if you will be one of the success stories. Are you comfortable with that risk? If so, starting a business could be for you.
How proactive are you?
If you speak to business owners, you’ll quickly find that the majority are making a lot up as they go along. It takes a certain type of personality to always stay one step ahead. When running a business, you will always be thinking about the next product or service you’ll offer, troubleshooting how to weather any economic storm that’s approaching and coming up with plans B, C and D for when things don’t work out as planned. However, as an employee, the need to be proactive at all times is less crucial.
It’s therefore important for you to consider how proactive you are, and be honest with yourself when you answer the next few questions.
Are you a natural problem solver? Are you always going the extra mile when no-one asks you to? Do you always come up with new ways to improve the company or team’s performance?
If the answer is no, you may find that you’ll thrive in a job that allows you to have as much responsibility as you need without giving you complete responsibility for the company’s future. However, if you answered yes, then you’re already thinking and acting like a business owner. Taking the next step is a logical decision.
Are you a leader or a follower?
While society, on the whole, makes it seem like it is better to be a leader than a follower, the reality is that the majority of us are followers when it comes to our careers… and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Very often, following the preset career ladder guarantees that you will have a regular paycheck, paid time off, an annual bonus, essential benefits and a comfortable pension to live off when you retire. Why risk that just to be seen as a leader?
And don’t forget that if you do start a business, you will need followers to help make your business a success.
In short, the world needs both leaders and followers.
However, if you do have leadership tendencies, you may find that a key reason you’re currently unhappy with your current job is that you don’t have the total freedom over your career that you desire.
So reflect on your behaviour at work and in life. Do you naturally take the lead with tasks or do you prefer to give that responsibility to someone else?
Are you comfortable creating your own salary?
One of the perks of being an employee is a regular salary. If you’re sick you get paid, if you slack off a little, you get paid, and if you pull a sickie, you still get paid. Come rain or shine (as long as you generally deliver at work) you will always get paid at the end of the month.
However, as an entrepreneur, you have to give up that security. Can you cope with the stress of not always having money magically appear in your bank account each month like clockwork? And, at least in the early years of starting a business, even when you do make money, it’s most likely going to be invested into the business rather than going straight into your pocket.
If you have a healthy amount of savings or just a few regular outgoings, you may be more willing to take this risk than if you have big financial commitments that require that regular monthly salary. Review your finances, your lifestyle and the relationship you have with money to determine the true answer to this question.
Are you able to motivate yourself?
This is the crucial question for determining if you should start a business or get a job. As a business owner, you have to stay motivated and keep going regardless of how things are going – both professionally and personally.
Do you find it hard to stay consistently motivated? Do you rely on others to keep you focused and on track? Do you lose interest in tasks easily? All of these are not well aligned with running a business. However, someone who is able to work hard and perform well when being spurred on by someone else can make a great employee.
So, which do you think is the best move for you? Start a business or get a new job? Let us know in the comments below.
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