“Hurray! I QUIT THE JOB!, its going great with around double the growth in two months.”
just after writing this on my worksheet, work from my biggest client went dry.
What’s in it for you?
I am making this post at 4 PM after enjoying the rain and tea.
I would be in office, if I was an employee. Just some extra information 😉
Everyone wants to be the hero in their own epic story. The purpose of this post is to share my path while deciding between job vs business. It can be a case study / an inspiration and may help you choose, when you decide to fly on your own.
Following are my personal experiences and research. Something may or may not work for you, so make most of situation and strive for the best.
Why this debate was needed in first place?
I am a graphics and presentation designer. After Bach. in design, job was a clear option. In fact I was doing part time job in an advertising agency, along with my study. This is where I got the opportunity to design the logo of a renowned local store chain Imtiaz Stores, which was their logo for 13 years before new looks.
Apart from my study and job, I also started moon lighting (night time freelancing). When the degree was complete, it was time to look for fulltime jobs. This is the time when reality hits you hard. No one is waiting eagerly for you to come out with degree, so they can hand you a million dollar contract. Long story short, It felt like hitting the glass ceiling, every other job was entry or medium paying job. TV channels and Media in Pakistan are habitual for not paying salaries for months ( and that’s case for almost 1.5 decade since I am in this field and seeing many people suffering from this), so that was not an option.
In this quest for a good pay and career, I stumbled upon Upwork which was Odesk in those days. After applying for some jobs I got one, (it was that easy in those days). It was not much, but a small task which earned me $10. It was a start though. I worked at jobs while freelancing for around 9 years, till I decided to go on my own, because I constantly felt that my potential was under utilized.
Here comes the Job vs Business debate
Now is the time to do the research, if I am planning the right step or not. I asked advise from professionals, observed career of seniors and learned from youtube on this topic. I have done this type of research while deciding my majors in bachelors too (a story for another day), so I was confident. Most of my confidence and moral support was from my other half, so family support could be a big factor.
- Biggest pro of job is security. You will get your pay check every month.
- You can do the job you are best without worrying about other parts of business.
- Additional perks like insurance, medical, provident fund, picnics, Bonuses (varies company to company)
- Time is fixed, Which is good but also the worst part. As someday you cannot just delay work. Especially going to office in a pleasant weather I always felt sad.
- After 2008’s recession when millions were laid off on days notice, the definition of job security changed. You are putting all your eggs in one basket and giving immense power in the hands of one person (your boss) and as its said, its not the company that people leave, but the boss.
- Office politics can actually be a hurdle in the way of your progress.
- a bad boss can infact be very very dangerous on your physical and mental health.
- Fixed time is also a dream in most media related jobs, you can come in late, and sit late, everyone would be happy. But if you come on time and want to leave on time, every one will notice you and not a hardworking employee. I witnessed people roaming and wasting time all day so they can sit late and look good to boss.
- slow growth
- You may be under many layers of bosses. Resulting in a lots of mixed instructions and policies, causing unnecessary hurdles and inefficiencies.
- Inflation is real threat for employees, while a business can increase the rates of service / products, that is not the case for employees. Payscale are often not raised to match the inflation. In Pakistan the inflation has touched 26% and averages in 9-15%. while most companies only raise 10% salary.
- You can setup and manage your own time to do work per day.
- you can have day off without the pressure to come in (because the company is only working due to you on those days)
- no scrutiny on appraisals.
- You can earn income you deserve. There is no glass ceiling, there are no overheads (depends). You will get what you work for. Its all yours in good or bad way.
- Family time can fluctuate with tasks at hand. In the field of media, many tasks are with short deadlines.
- Feast and Famine cycle is very real and can be felt during a business. To deal with it you have to work on multiple streams and make sure work is steadily coming in.
- Its not all garden of roses, a huge number of business fail each each and hardly few businesses survive 10 years mark as per a research. Business is a cut throat thing to be in. You have competition that’s always working to take away your share.
This cons and pros list of job vs business kept me as confused as one can be before making the list 🙂 . The next step was asking around and do more research. Both of following friends were working for many years in Media field, upon asking their views on the topic (removed names for confidentiality)
You will be tired in 4-5 years (on job). I have worked hard but still standing at starting point. If we have done this hardwork for our own business, it would be running great now.
I am planning to start my own business, its not worth it in job after some years.
Many people favored business, but its not as straight forward, as it looks. The fear of failure can kick start your lizard brain. Some also told the warning stories of people failing in trying to do their own business (including my boss at the time haha 🙂 and I was a family man by that time, failure was not an option.
Definition of job security changed
The world was evolving after, 2008’s recession that changed the views of a generation. People saw themselves and their parents laid off on days notice, sometime immediately. This created a chaos in US, and since it’s the biggest market in world, it’s aftershocks were felt by whole world.
Heard this story many times (here and here), when the business closes or people are fired, who were working there for decades, they went numb and clueless on what to do next, because it is all they ever knew.
Insecurity is the new job security now. Having more than one streams of income and not depending on one boss. People also started to take their career paths in their own hand rather than relying on company to push them above through to higher salary and job titles (thinking of past generations worker class). There was also a research that claimed that those who hopped jobs were able to secure more average income than those who stayed in one place for years.
This is not a new concept, infact there are movies made to induce fear in people and staying in the rat race wherever they are. This was kind of the plot of 1985’s movie Lost in America.
Making up the mind
I made this habit of maintaining finances a while before all this debate of job vs business. That record was the pivoting point upon which I made the decision of leaving job and freelancing as a fulltime designer. The record showed me that I was making close to or more amount from freelancing than my day job. While I would loose half amount (from salary) but this difference can be reduced by finding more work.
Earned more than the salary I would have received after 25 years
This is a funny story. One day while calculating our upcoming bonusses, I made an excel sheet and calculated our salary for next 25 years job. Just after leaving my job, the big client I was working for, assigned me so many tasks, that I got back ache from sitting all day in a make shift sitting since I was also constructing my house. In the first month I earned on my own more than I would have in a month as salary after 25 years.
and the client work dries
After a month or so work from biggest client dried up, (we have done almost all major work in our multi year contract). This was the test for me, since now I have no job security. Rolling my sleeves up, I started applying for more jobs as well as reading books and articles on design / freelancing and proposal writing.
This gave me an edge and I was able to score some amazing and high paying contracts, made some new long term happy clients. Thanks to those clients (love you) Upwork assigned me the badges of TOP Rated Professional to TOP RATED PLUS professional which brings me in top 3% among 18 million freelancers on this largest platform (see life with Upwork).
If I look back, in a way the drying of client work at that moment was the thing that pushed me to do more and sharpen my skills (a work in progress ever since). In a way that step back prepared me for a bigger jump.
Covid pandemic hits the world
Life was good, and rolling on its pace, when suddenly COVID pandemic took over the world. All of sudden stream of work from many long term clients dried up. Due to lockdowns and closed businesses. That’s where one of the benefit of being a business shined again. Which is, more than one income stream. I was lucky to get new contracts right at the time old clients went dry. Many new online business appeared on the horizon and work kept coming. This also proved that decision to fly solo was a good one.
Job vs Business Results
- Am I happy with my own business?
This is a multi million dollar question, depends on your definition of happiness, for me, yes I am happy.
- Is business this secure?
Neither a job nor a business is secure. You can be fired from a good paying job. Your business could go down after losses. Its all about choosing the burden you are comfortable with. Both have plus sides, for me seeing the world above glass ceiling, its was necessary to fly on my own. So there is no shame in saying that time to time, I also feel unsecure about my future too, but my finance sheet calms me down and gives hope.
- Am I earning enough?
Yes. Not the richest man from Babylon but yes. Humans are never satisfied, even the rich people look at someone else with more money. I don’t want every fancy new gadget and items to show off. Staying with in my frugal but comfortable means, I am living with ease.
- Regrets or something I could have changed?
No! events that happen combine to make you who you are now. The failures or hurdles might be the ones that may have shaped this future. So I wouldn’t change a thing.
Among job vs business which one to choose as a new comer
- Should you do business?
NO! not right away, its ideal that you:
- do some jobs first
- hone some communication skills
- Practice in reality, because its different from theory.
- Appreciate your time, health and work on side projects, learn new skill enjoy the process
- Always write your goals, ideally at prominent places in your workspace
- Try to find what you love, otherwise life will be too boring
- Work for client first and money will follow
- keep cushion time and expanses in mind when quoting
- provide better service and keep improving
- deliver on time
- be truthful and offer
put the money where your mouth is
You can see all of these tips applied in reviews of happy clients across the world and over the years. I am thankful to them for giving me this opportunity.
Thank you for digging down till here, without pursuit of knowledge, life is boring. I am sure that you may have made some of your mind regarding job vs business.