Why you should quit your business and get a real job

by Peter Shallard

Why (and when) you should quit your business

This is the age of believe-in-yourself entrepreneurial ambition. Quit is a dirty word. Day job is blasphemy.

We’ve been conditioned by our gurus and heroes to push through The Dip, overcome Uncertainty and conquer Fear. That means never giving up.

Lifestyle Design or a Global Empire is the ultimate goal. Working for The Man is the ultimate failure.

Except when it isn’t.

Here’s why you should quit and get a real job…  

I encounter thousands of business owners and their stories. The Virtual Clarity Couch is the offer I make to entrepreneurs searching the net for answers: Hop on the metaphorical couch, fill out the questionnaire and score some free business psychoanalysis. It’s free clarity for anyone who takes the time to get in touch.

This offer means I hear from some people who, for various reasons, are hurting.

Business isn’t going good. Bills are stacking up. Stress. Anxiety. Pain.

For the average entrepreneur, life is overwhelming.

About ninety five percent of the time, I’ll share strategies for busting stress, tactics for melting anxiety and philosophy for the pain. That’s my job. I’m the Shrink for Entrepreneurs.

Sometimes, I’ll tell people to go get a real job. 

Throw tomatoes if you want, but first understand my position.

Having recorded hundreds and hundreds of these Clarity Couch reports, I’ve wrestled several times with this ethical dilemma.

Do I tell a stranger, struggling and in pain as a wannabe entrepreneur, to get a real job? Is it the “best” thing for them?

Is relentlessly insisting on entrepreneurialism a principal that trumps common sense?

One Clarity Couch submission sticks in my mind. For obvious reasons I won’t share any personal information but this is the gist of it:

The entrepreneur is a freelance web worker (the specific industry doesn’t matter). He long ago quit his 9-to-5 job to pursue the location-independent freelance entrepreneur dream.

At the time this person contacted me, his big issue was his friends. He didn’t have any left.

As business failed to take off, this entrepreneur had to cut expenses. The mortgage couldn’t be kept up with. Soon, even rent was too much. He hit the road to be “location independent” – staying with friends while traveling across the continent.

At the time he submitted his Clarity Couch questionnaire, this person had lost those friends. He had been confronted and accused of being a “user”. After months of crashing on couches and borrowing money for essential expenses (food, gas)… people had had enough.

Conversations were had. The entrepreneur, pepped up with believe-in-yourself philosophy, rejected his angry friends. He named them unsupportive. The words “toxic beliefs” were thrown around.

He ended up living in his car, with no one to go to for shelter. Parking outside cafes to get on free wifi.

This entrepreneur asked me what to do next.

When you have nothing, not even a vision… Quit your Business, get a Job

The rags-to-riches dream still happens. Guy Laliberté is probably one of the more famous examples. He went from a penniless street performer to the CEO of Cirque Du Soleil with a net worth of $2.5 billion.

Vision is the difference between Laliberté and the person who contacted me. I won’t go near a discussion about their respective talent because that’s not what this is about.

Laliberté made a big dream happen. The freelancer was aiming to have “enough money to not have to worry about things”. Big difference.

My advice to the freelancer was to seek part time employment. To check the boxes on Maslow’s basic human needs. I told him that alleviating the types of stress he was experiencing, by creating some semblance of security and stability, was the best move for his business.

He needed vision. “Success no matter the cost” is only a viable attitude when you know what success looks like. There’s no point struggling to hustle when you lack a dream.

I told him a job was what his business needed.

If you need to learn a few things… Quit your Business, get a Job 

I bootstrapped my budding (read: floundering) psychotherapy practice, in it’s first year, with a regular job.

I worked for the man. In fact, I worked for a NYSE listed, $12billion dollar, global empire – which is far from the groovy and hip lifestyle of a freedom-obsessed business owner.

I took the job because I knew I needed to learn something. I didn’t just want a paycheck. I wanted to go to school.

Working at Premiere Global Inc (really) taught me to sell. As a B2B business development manager, I attended pitch meetings with C level executives all over the country. I got a street education in prospecting, overcame my fear of sales and learned to close.

This education gave me the skills I needed not only to make my practice work, but to pivot into a lucrative corporate consulting career as a self employed business psychology expert.

I learned more in those few months of employment than I’ve learned from every business book I’ve ever read. Combined.

Being proudly unemployable is a joke 

If you’re in a place where you life absolutely sucks, because you don’t have enough money and you have no idea where you’re trying to end up… get a job.

If you simply don’t know how to make your business work, you feel like you’ve tried everything and you’re screwing up your life… get a job.

It doesn’t have to mean the end of your business ambition. Choose your job wisely and it might even mean you “get” that thing that you needed to get.

I needed to “get” sales, by doing it. The job gave me the safe place I needed to stretch my sales wings. It allowed me to deconstruct the sales process and apply it to my own business. I’m now a huge advocate for entrepreneurs learning sales on the street, rather than out of a book.

When I told the freelancer to consider a part time job, I advised him to hunt for a position that’d grow his business skill set. I suggested he assist a successful entrepreneur in his industry – watch and learn. I counseled him to transform his vision from “what I want to avoid” to “what I want to create”, with the help of a warm shower and a good meal.

I received a scathing reply. I was evil, a disbeliever, toxic and part of the problem.

The person who contacted me was just one of many. I’ve heard his story many times. I’ve received similar responses.

Real entrepreneurs can work for people

It’s time to destroy this myth that they should not. There are many circumstances where a job can accelerate business success.

In some cases, a business can be entirely quit. So long as the entrepreneurial attitude remains, quitting is just another step in the journey.

Get a job, learn something, dream up a vision. Hit a home run next time.

Being stuck and broke with no way out means your progress has stalled. Not only are you not learning anything, you’re hemorrhaging money because of it.

The only belief you need is that, no matter what happens in life, you’ll always come back to business. That you’ll always be an entrepreneur, even if you’re temporarily undercover – “stealing trade secrets” from The Man. Why not frame a job as a recon mission?

Quit your business if you have to. Just never quit on business, even if you want to.

What do you think? That’s my opinion and I’d love to hear yours, so leave a comment.  There are no wrong answers…

{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordi July 23, 2012 at 11:41 am

Totally agree, and that’s what I actually did a couple years ago.
I started promoting affiliate offers through PPC, went broke and had to get a job in an online marketing agency.
Now with some savings and more experience under my belt I’m ready to give entrepreneurship another chance!

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 11:57 am

Hey Jordi,

Go you for making a smart move. That’s exactly what I’m talking about here. Can’t wait for your second act. Gives the words “back-with-a-vengence” whole new meaning eh?

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Jason Hull July 23, 2012 at 11:55 am

If someone doesn’t have a definable call to action for why a potential customer would want to spend money with that person in the first place, then there’s no reason to start a business. Jobs are great for gaining enough skills to be able to offer something of value in the first place. You have to be able to perform a service/provide a product that nobody else wants, and, as you SO rightly point out, be able to sell to a buyer and get them over that barrier of actually spending money.

As an entrepreneur, you’re always working for a boss. The boss is your customer. People who think that they can escape having a boss through entrepreneurship are deluding themselves.

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for this wisdom Jason. The boss is indeed your customer – the advantage of entrepreneurialism is that you can have *many* customers and be a bit more in charge of the process… but your point is super value all the same.

Thanks for stopping by and speaking up!

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Bill O'Riordan July 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Hey Peter, I like that article. All the stuff out there persuading the gullible they can make it by buying some “programme” can get me all over exctited, even still. But teres a special breed of people who are true entrepreneurs and over the years I’ve realized I’m not one of them. I still have the business ideas, but now I write them down for the future, and let the dream be just that, as I pick up my well earned monthly check, from PGi as a matter of fact. Theres no get rich quick scheme that someones going to give to you over the internet.

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Hey Bill! Too weird a coincidence! Good to hear PGi is doing good work setting entrepreneurs up for future success 😉

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Neil Asher July 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Great article Pete, can I offer some web advice, your theme is NOT doing your site justice.

It does not constrain your text properly so if I view your site on a small browser site it’s nigh on impossible to read Pete.

Your blog deserves better as your content is 1st class.

I’d invest $50 on a god theme for yourself, the investment will be worth it for the additional people who can read your blog.

🙂

Thanks again I LOVE reading your posts

Best wishes from England

Neil
http://www.roarlocal.com

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Hey Neil,

What browser are you viewing from? This theme cost a tad more than $50 ;), so I sure hope we can fix it and have you view the posts in all their glory

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Dora May 6, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I believe the commenter may be referring to the fact that the site does not adjust to the browser window size. A “responsive” website will do that, and will work well on mobile devices, too.

Many WordPress themes are now responsive. You can check with your web developer and ask her if this theme can be made responsive. (By the way, I LOVE the visual design of this site! Your designer did a beautiful job!)

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hungus jones March 3, 2013 at 11:53 am

hey idiot. you dont just roll up on someones site, tell them how much the design sucks and then pad it with content phrases and expect to get a sale do you?

sounds like you need a job. in sales.

fag

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Greg July 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I’m glad you posted this. So often entrepreneurship is presented as a binary choice: you’re either free and the master of your domain, or you’re a chump chained to a cubicle in the 7th deepest pit in hell.

I’ve flipped back and forth between working for myself and working for someone else at multiple points in my career — it all really boiled down to what was important to me at any given time. Different variables hold different levels of importance across a person’s lifetime. But in neither circumstance did I feel one choice was superior to the other. It was really about tradeoffs and skills — what was important to me at the time, and what I wanted to cultivate.

As you pointed out, you can’t provide client value if you aren’t providing value for yourself. It’s hard to care about a client’s goals or challenges when you’re worried about your own basic needs. Sometimes the hardest part about being an entrepreneur is prioritizing. Second hardest: taking the long view.

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm

So much wisdom here Greg. Thank you for sharing your perspectives!

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Melanie July 23, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Great article. Sounds like some are confusing “freelancing” with “freeloading”. If your business is floundering to the point you are literally homeless it’s time to get another job and work in your free time until your side business can support you! The fact that he angrily rebuffed that advice shows that he doesn’t want to work. He wants a handout or a magic bullet.

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I don’t really want to criticize the guy for thinking “wrong” (I hate magic-bullet mentalities!)…. the real point is that there’s this stigma around getting a job.

I think you’re spot on though 🙂

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Cory July 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Peter,
Thanks for the post. I’ve always liked the idea of being a corporation of one, whether working for myself or others. The ability to work for and with others IS the key business skill whether you’re a C level executive, an eager grunt-worker, or a single dynamic entrepreneur. What is business if not a series of repeating and ever more complex relationships between individuals and groups? To think that you can create a “lifestyle business” without the support of clients, friends and a modicum of physical safety is delusional.

There is no better classroom than working for others and learning all you can. There’s massive entrepreneurial value in becoming a linchpin, in knowing someone else’s business inside and out. The smartest business decision I ever made was spending nearly 2 years loaning myself out to work as a temp doc in various clinics in my area. It was a crash MBA in medical business management. Even though I joke that I am “constitutionally incapable” of working for others, it’s not true, nor has it ever been. I am more than capable of absorbing the educational juice of any experience that comes my way.

Thanks for poking some pragmatic, real-world holes in the “all-or-nothing” entrepreneur myth. It’s only all-or-nothing if you are incapable of anything else, and that’s just not how humans are made. You are done being an entrepreneur when you say you are done, not when you start working for someone else.

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 1:44 pm

“You are done being an entrepreneur when you say you are done, not when you start working for someone else.” <--- AWESOME. Cory thanks for this. You said it right, with an eloquence I lack and a better example than I could think of! I should have interviewed you for this piece!

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Jeffrey Trull July 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I’ve seen some people just languish as entrepreneurs, and I wonder what’s the point.

I just spent about a year preparing to make the leap to self-employment, and finally made the jump in May. While I can see many of the benefits to quitting your job and becoming a business owner, I don’t think it’s the only option nor the best option for everyone.

Do I want to go back to working a job? Hell no! But I’m open to it as an option should I get to the point where I need to make that decision. I think others should be, too, especially if their current entrepreneurial pursuit has brought them to a dead end with few other choices.

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Right on Jeffrey. Congrats also, btw, on taking the plunge.

Enjoy the journey brother!

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Elizabeth Cottrell July 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Bravo for getting this important message out there, Peter! The life of an entrepreneur is not a good fit for everyone any more than college is a good choice of everyone (though I’m a strong proponent for education). We’re doing a disservice to folks when we make them feel that Success can only look one way. And I’m glad you also mentioned the hybrid options that are often a perfect combo.

Thanks for this honest and insightful article.

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm

You’re so welcome Elizabeth. Thank you for stopping by and for the comment 🙂

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Kristy Lyseng July 23, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Hi Peter! Great message! I now have a new outlook on my current day job. It’ll be interesting to see what I can carry over from that into freelancing.

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Peter Shallard July 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Hey Kristy! So glad that this had the impact I was intending 🙂

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Jamie Alexander July 23, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I’m currently freelancing write now for a company writing articles and I love it.

I definitely think a job is fine if you are struggling to pay the rent. As long as you have a proper business is place that you can work on at night it shouldn’t really matter. Just build it up slowly.

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Hey Jamie, I think you’ve got a point. I often advise people to get up early and put a few ours into their business in the morning… before they head off to work. Promising to work on your project at night, after clocking in and out of work, can be problematic if you’re low on energy. It’s amazing how much the order we do things in matters.

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Srinivas July 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm

HEy Peter,

It sounds like we need to bring you back to BlogcastFM. I think back to what Dyana Valentine told me. She said to treat your day job as your first angel investor and that a dream and a day job don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I’m doing a combination of freelance gigs along side BlogcastFM at the moment. Those enable me to bring in some cash. But I’ve also had to be wiling to move home. My friend John Falchetto also told me something really smart. “To be uncomfortable in one area of your life (i.e. building your business) you have to be comfortable in others (i.e. food, shelter, survival).

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Dude! Let’s make it happen!

That quote is solid. TOTALLY what I’m talking about – I can steal that right ? 😛

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Dude! Let’s make it happen!

That quote is solid. TOTALLY what I’m talking about – I can steal that right ? 😛

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Andrea July 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I love this post. I’m an entrepreneur that sleeps at night because I also have a fulltime, (awesome) job (that I love). It allows me to learn and make mistakes while I grow my business and tweak the vision. I actually have to shutter my business for 4 months out of the year because my job sends me to Antarctica for those months. But while I’m gone working I spend my time amping up the plan for the next year and growing the vision. I think it’s rare that someone can go from a vision of wanting to ‘makes lots of money’ to making lots of money. I think more often than not, the money follows making a different, value-added vision come true. So I like your message of follow the dream, not the money, because they usually come in that order…

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Andrea! What is your JOB?! It sounds amazing!!!! Spill the beans…

You’re about the only person in this community who cooks up plans from Antarctica. So awesome.

Dream first, money after. I like it 🙂

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Sam July 23, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Hey Peter, I agree that part time work is the best solution. 2 days a week. That gives you 5 days a week to work on business ideas. I did that for 2 years. Worked 2 days a week and earned $1000 per month. I made it be enough. That way I could work 4 days on my business and take Sunday off.

I’m on the home straight now with my business so I’ve dropped the job, but I couldn’t have got here without it.

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Sam, this is exactly it. It isn’t SUPPOSED to be easy. If it were, everyone would do it.

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glenn burkey July 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I agree. You have to get your basic needs met. But at the same time I would recommend getting in the process. What is the process? Read books, listen to CD’s. When you get some money together, get a business coach. Go to: http://www.whoownstheicehouse.com and sign up for their course. It is a course on the Mind Set of the entrepreneur. Absoulutely the foundation for entrepreneurship and endorsed by the Kauffman Foundation and Cisco Systems. (I make no personal gain from them) But STAY in the PROCESS.

Coach Glenn

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Hey Glenn,

Good call. There’s a heap that can be done and most of it is free 🙂

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Andy Fogarty July 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm

You’re so on point with this, Peter.

I’m constantly working with men who’ve taken the entrepreneurial path way too soon or for all the wrong reasons.

Far too many men who find themselves hating their job think that branching out on their own is the obvious solution when it’s not. Hating your boss is one thing, but hating your work is the result of a much deeper issue — not knowing your mission.

The worst part is that most never even create a real business, much less one that will support them. Barriers to starting a business have become incredibly small. It’s far too easy (and enticing) for people to fool themselves by taking just a few steps (or clicks of a button) without any true direction or purpose.

Being an entrepreneur is NOT the path to freedom. Discovering your mission (that thing every experience in your life has been training you to do), and dedicating your life to achieving it, is the path to ultimate freedom and happiness.

The truth is, every person is in business for themselves, whether they’re the CEO or the janitor. You don’t do the work, you don’t make the money. It’s really that simple.

Good stuff, Peter.

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm

“Being an entrepreneur is NOT the path to freedom. Discovering your mission and dedicating your life to achieving it, is the path to ultimate freedom and happiness. ”

<----- This. This is the truth.

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Norcross July 24, 2012 at 12:20 am

I’ve never quite understood the perverse allure of entrepreneurship. While it certainly has it’s benefits, it isn’t (nor has it ever been) a magic pony ride. I grew up watching my father run his own business, in a way (a minister running a small church) and my brother own his own business. I recently took a full time “job” with a company after almost 3 years of working for myself. While I never envisioned myself doing that, my priorities changed. Taking care of my family was more important than any “freedom” my own company afforded me.

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Interesting.

What I take from this is that the journey isn’t OVER – it’ll be interesting to see what comes next for you. Knowing what I know of you, I don’t see you humping a desk for the rest of your existence.

In fact, you’re probably not even doing that now.

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Priska July 24, 2012 at 6:55 am

For me, entrepreneurship is not about fame or fortune.
It does not matter how long it takes to get there and I have no idea of where ‘there’ is anyway.
Before its too late, I would like the opportunity to create my own thing, I have not had this pleasure since I was a young child.

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Financial Samurai July 24, 2012 at 10:52 am

I agree with you Priska! I told myself at age 34, “If not now, then when?” Do I really need another three million in the bank to be happy? Nope! After you accumulate a certain amount, it’s all gravy.

Freedom and time become more important as we get older.

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Hey Priska,

I think un-restrained creativity is different to entrepreneurship. What you’re talking about sounds like “art” to me – it’s pure creation for no other end than itself.

A business is constrained (and rightly so) by the need to turn a profit. Of course, that’s the fun part of the game 🙂

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Tayven July 24, 2012 at 8:27 am

Hi Peter,

Your article makes me feel better about keeping my full time job while working on my business ideas on the side feels like I work 24/7 but the cash flow is so important and keeps us fed. One thing I’ve learnt over the last year of working for myself part time is that I have alot to learn, I hope I can work out the kinks and one day do it as my full time job.
Cheers

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Financial Samurai July 24, 2012 at 10:51 am

I moonlighted for three years with Financial Samurai and the Yakezie Network until I announced my retirement last week.

Three years flew by, and I’m happy I worked, saved, and worked on the side.

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Tayven, as I said…. keep the focus on learning. That’s all that is needed. It’s the people who switch off their minds who never escape the cubicle.

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James Chartrand - Men with Pens July 24, 2012 at 9:11 am

I so agree with this post that it’s not even funny. As a major blog owner, I see so many readers “stuck” in the same place 2, 3 even 5 years later… readers who claim to want to be freelancers who are struggling along (yes, all that time) and who keep asking, “How can I be successful?”

Get out of freelancing. Get a real job. Get out of debt. Get yourself to a happy, better place. THEN start a business IF you have something to offer.

If you don’t, keep your day job.

It ires me to see so, SO many sites and blogs out there pushing people to “escape the cubicle” and become location independent and shed all possessions and become minimalists with happy-go-lucky smiles and no future to their name.

I’m really sorry, but I’m all for wealthy capitalism. I look around and see a bunch of people with travel experiences beyond my dreams… and no savings account, no home, no place to raise kids, no money saved up for retirement… this is NOT the freelancing dream.

And yeah, it takes all sorts of people in “real” jobs (involving cubicles!) to make the world go round. Options are NICE… but enough with the shoving freelancing/location independence/live the dream down everyone’s throat. Let’s be realistic: it takes all kinds to rule a world.

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Trust James to come in and deliver the hard truths. Thanks for saying what I tried to, only better 🙂

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Jen Gresham August 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I’m seconding everything James said (along with a huge high five). However, I’ll also add that I don’t think the “gurus” are to blame. I hesitate to even use that word, since the I seriously doubt any of the authors of the books you link to think of themselves that way (in fact, I suspect they would all agree with the tenets of this post too).

The first step, whether you plan to be an entrepreneur or work for someone else, is to take responsibility for your own decisions and life. Do that, and the rest largely takes care of itself.

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Financial Samurai July 24, 2012 at 10:48 am

Guy is worth closer to $4 billion btw 🙂

I just engineered my layoff after 13 years of working and was about to negotiate six years worth of living expenses.

To be able to maintain my lifestyle for six years and not do anything is an incredibly powerful feeling!

Nobody should quit their jobs. They should get laid off.

People do what’s rational. I love the lifestyle design movement b/c they are doing what makes them happy. Even if they are broke, they are happy, otherwise they would get a job.

Sam

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Financial Samurai July 24, 2012 at 10:50 am

Correction: “Was ABLE to negotiate six years worth of living expenses” as severance.

An awesome feeling is having money. Enough money that you don’t have to worry about money so that you can do what you wish.

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Peter Shallard July 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Hey Sam,

Not sure if I totally agree with this, but I also don’t know the full picture of what you’re describing.

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Financial Samurai March 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Employees have more rights than they know. When they quit their jobs, they lose out on a tremendous amount of benefits.

Imagine having 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years worth of living expenses paid for when you quit your job? You won’t be afraid to do anything, and will therefore end up doing a lot!

Sam

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Priska July 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm

When you have lived and worked in wealth creating capitalism all of your life, have raised the kids, own a house, purchased items you previously never dreamed of, then what?
Finally you have options and choices.
Endless games of golf and travel do not fulfill.
Entrepreneurship does.

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Peter Shallard August 23, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Hey Priska!

I get a better kick out of skiing!

It’s the “create something” that really tickles our desire for self-actualization 🙂

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Karilee July 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Fact: Not everyone is ready to be an entrepreneur.
I firmly believe the skills and mindset can be learned (of course, I teach, so I’m biased!). I think the skills of entrepreneurship offer a degree of security in a world where many jobs no longer do. I think many job holders would sleep more securely at night if they started developing a side business. It’s great to have a fall-back position, to not have all of your eggs in one basket. It’s always good to learn new skills before you’ll need them.

Fact: What “entrepreneur” means isn’t the same for everyone.
Some folks want part-time income, with a few tax deductions. Some want the freedom and security of being able to create a job for themselves – to be their own boss. Others want to learn to leverage other people’s skills and money and achieve fortune and/or power.

Fact: If you can’t keep food on the table and a roof of some kind over your head, you’re not ready. I think you gave him the right advice. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a day job until you have both the skills and mindset. Survival stress doesn’t nurture creativity, it nurtures more stress.

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Peter Shallard August 23, 2012 at 8:11 pm

“Survival stress doesn’t nurture creativity” … way to say what it took me 1500 words to, in one sentence! *sheepish grin*

Thanks for your eloquence !!!

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Anna Long August 15, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I love this take on it. There is definitely a lot of side-ways glances when I tell certain entrepreneur friends that I hold a job part-time at a non-profit to help cover life expenses. This has been my entire “side-step” plan from day one. I has allowed me to build a business that is more selective than what I could do if I quit and relied immediately on my business. It may take me more time in the long run…but my hope is that my business will be build on a solid foundation of my vision and values…not a mish-mash of crap that I had to invent to pay the bills.

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ancuta August 16, 2012 at 6:18 am

You’re perfectly right. I have been working for more than 10 years and I’ve learned a lot before starting my first business. It wasn’t a success (it was even worst than that! :)), but I didn’t take it as a failure. I decided to continue with another business and things are going much better now.
There’s always a price to pay to become an entrepreneur. And the vision, as you said, is essential. Not the money goal. Of course, a business means profit and ultimately means money. But we have to take money as the expression of the value we are able to add to the market and not as an absolute goal for ourselves.
When we’re engaged in what we’re doing and arrive to live for our business, and when we understand that learning is a continuous process, we have all chances to succeed. Business is not a lottery!

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Peter Shallard August 23, 2012 at 8:09 pm

“business is not a lottery” <--- A lot of the trendy new startup entrepreneurs would do well to remember this truth!

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Lynn Daue (@lynndaue) August 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Your parable falls directly in line with some of Chuck Wendig’s thoughts on writing, specifically: “Nobody wants to hear this, but maybe you’re just not a writer.” The thought is directed at people who really just aren’t cut out for writing; he also makes mention of other common problems (the story isn’t ready, the writer–although a writer–isn’t ready, etc.) in 500 Way to Be a Better Writer. It’s interesting to see this from an entrepreneurial standpoint as well!

In the same note, I have a post going up tomorrow referencing your take on the Guru Effect in regards to Chuck’s book and writing advice. I hope you don’t mind! It will be up here around 9 EDT: http://lynndaue.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/5-ways-to-be-a-better-writer/

Thanks for the wonderful words!

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Peter Shallard August 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hey Lynn,

Thanks for the comment and the link. I don’t agree with Chuck’s sentiment – I believe every behavior is learnable, by almost any human… given the right motivational levers are in place.

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Lynn Daue (@lynndaue) August 23, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Out of curiosity, do you ever work with people who are simply not cut out to be entrepreneurs? Whether through lack of motivation, lack of skill, or lack of some other essential ingredient? From my perspective, I think that’s what Wendig was getting at, and hence the parallel to your story–that some people, though perhaps teachable, are not cut out at the moment to be writers (or entrepreneurs).

Regardless of whether or not we agree on this point, I think it’s worth noting that sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do in order to attain your ultimate end goal 🙂

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Peter Shallard August 24, 2012 at 10:32 am

I would say I work with people who are at different stages of their journey … or different parts of the learning curve. Very few people are cut out to be entrepreneurs from birth – really, only a handful of the children of successful entrepreneurs might have those skills imprinted.

So this is something we’re ALL learning, to some degree or another.

The people who completely lack motivation aren’t entrepreneurs. I don’t work with them, because they can’t be bothered getting in touch 🙂

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Lynn Daue (@lynndaue) August 24, 2012 at 1:12 pm

“So this is something we’re ALL learning, to some degree or another.”

Amen.

Scott August 24, 2012 at 12:04 am

The way I see it, ‘business owner’ and ‘entrepreneur’ is not the same thing. Entrepreneurs sell their time, talent, skill, and/or sweat to a customer that they enjoy working with, where they can do their best work to live the way they want.
Sometimes that means being a business owner and serving many people, for others that means being a top performer as an employee.

For me, I’m happy to be an employee (work as an EMT for an ambulance service if you’re wondering). I still work on bringing an income-generating hobby up to a business level, but I doubt I’ll ever fully quit EMS even if my business grows.

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Peter Shallard August 24, 2012 at 10:36 am

Hey scott, I think what you’re doing is great… I have to disagree at a semantic level though.

If you google “entrepreneur definition” this is what you find:

“A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so.”

It’s the financial risk part that is so important in defining what an entrepreneur is. As an employee, the risk is being picked up by the employer. That’s why employees aren’t entrepreneurs (at least, not while they’re at work!)

Hope that makes sense 🙂

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Michael Kawula September 4, 2012 at 9:13 am

Peter this is dead on and awesome!
Raising the white flag for a particular battle does not have to mean you’ve lost the war.

I think there is just so much people don’t take into account before becoming self employed and I laugh each time I meet with friends from 8 years ago when I left my job for my own dreams at the age of 32. They all have magical glasses that see the grass so much greener and are deaf to the realities of the opportunity cost that were given up initially to pursue my dream. No such thing as an end to my day, Health Insurance, Paychecks, Vacation and so on.

I would personally have it no other way but I would tell folks to fully think of what they have before making the leap and when they do to be prepared to adjust their sails daily. I’m now on my 3rd business after 8 years (2012 #144 on Inc’s Fastest Growing 500 companies) and it has not been an easy journey. I’ve adjusted my sails many times and will continue, but the destination is in sight!

Look forward to reading future post and glad I found this post from Michael Ellsberg. Enjoying the Journey! Mike

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Peter Shallard September 4, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Hey Michael!

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!

This is a great observation. Of those eight years, I’m betting at least half of them were nothing but up-hill toil. The thing about success is that it always appears to be good fortune to the casual observer.

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Lori September 17, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I was talking to someone who graduated from high school a year ago and is floundering. I explained to him I had my own business and it was finally starting to do well and he replied, “see that’s what I want to do, I don’t want to have to answer to anyone.”

I then went on to explain to him that I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, I worked in retail as a manager up to being an Operation’s Manager for 15 years, I worked as a bookkeeper, marketing manager and in sales for many years as well. That I needed to do all that to learn how to run my own business.

Nothing is easy, especially not having your own business. There is no shame in having a “real” job and there is so much you can learn if you’re willing.

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Triftan October 4, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Hi Peter, awesome article!

I started my own video digitizing business at the age of 21 while I was serving the army and doing it part time after “official hours” as I got to book out daily. I had a girlfriend who was a foreigner staying with me, and I had to pay salaries to her an my mum who was running the business for me. I was sleeping late at 3 to 4 am just to process the orders after that. That was hell, if you asked. I had no formal training, how I actually got started to the own your business dream was through a entrepreneur motivational session.

Well, to cut the story short, I had no formal on the ground training or business mentor on how to expand the business. True enough, business dwindled and winded due to the sunset industry nature and lack of planning.

I went for a full time job after that, started some side business again and failed but had learnt lessons from it. To a true blue entrepreneur, it kinda itches us to create something for ourselves better and meaner than your boss when you are working.

Now I’m 31, 10 yrs has passed and I am gainfully employed as a manager in a startup. How exciting. But my entrepreneurial spirit lives on, learning everyday life and business lessons from work.

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WritersBlock October 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I think some people ( including me sadly) think of going into entrepreneurship because they’ve been looking for work for years ( no exaggeration) and still cant find work. Its not easy especially for a young adult to find work with no experience (yes I’ve tried to volunteer) … Yes i was also humble when looking for work by applying to places like fast food joints, diners, grocery stores etc… One article i found pretty much made entrepreneurship sound like the one and only for sure fix to being jobless, and that’s the real reason I’ve gotten so into it and the guy your talking about situation may be similar so he’s scared to go back to endless applications trying to stand out with nothing more than pieces of virtual paper.

I just recently brought education of millionaires hopefully its not a waste!

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Brook September 30, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I understand where you are coming from. I have similar concerns and have 20 years of experience.

Two suggestions. Find a career you like and are interested in and check to see what the potential is and see if that fits for you. For example, You may love to clean but the income ceiling on cleaning is very low. (Actual cleaning owing a cleaning business is not the same as cleaning) I chose a field I really love graphic design but the income ceiling is very low as there are many very talented people who are in the field who will do it for very little.

2. Find a career where longevity make a difference. For example; Teachers don’t make much money, it first, but if you can stick it out, a teacher of 15 years makes very competitive wages, has remarkable job security (unless they are blatantly negligent), has retirement, excellent benefits and the summer off.

Best of luck to you. The good people of the world, and that most of them, are pulling for you and want you to succeed!

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Bikash Ranjan Mohapatra April 9, 2013 at 4:18 am

Hi Peter,
My total experience in the telecommunication sector is of 14 years. I quit my job in the 2009 and started a small business setup of mobile communications infrastructure. However, things are not going well and I want to enter into the job market once again. I had give couple of interviews, however not been successful. Pls. advise what should be the best possible answers to the following questions:
a. Why do you want to quit your business and enter into the job market?
b. How to explain the gap of 4 years diplomatically?
c. should I compromise on the salary and perks factor?
d. Can you proof-read my CV and advise accordingly?
Rgds
Bikash

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Peter Shallard April 10, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Hi Bikash,

Here are my answers:

a) Try talking about what you want to LEARN and that you see a job as an environment to develop new skill sets while making money and adding value to the company you work for

b) Talk about your dream as an entrepreneur and the extreme learning curve you faced. Be honest – everyone knows people get jobs for MONEY… no point trying to hide that fact.

c) not sure what you mean

d) no, sorry.

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asdadsad July 13, 2013 at 8:21 pm

My competitors have millions in funding and operate at a loss.
My customers are abusive, demanding, and cheap.
Market demand dictates what I work on, not what I want to do.
I have lost interest in the industry I am in.

It’s basically all the bullshit of working for someone else, with added risk and low pay.

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Peter Shallard July 15, 2013 at 10:55 am

Hey Asdadsad, that sounds terrible. Let me know how I can help.

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Grace Sia December 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Hey Peter,
Great post – i am totally for the whole “live the dream, live the passion” etc but also believe in being realistic.

Thanks for taking a different spin on this topic. i wouldn’t say the position is quite completely devil’s advocate because even if you find a part time job, you can definitely still always run a business on the side.

Another thing is knowing when to quit a business. I’ve only come up with 2 but i think that’s enough to help decide.
1. It’s not making you happy
2. It’s not making money

Best of luck to all those people who are at the fork in the road and deciding which path to take. Who knows, after a bit of meandering you might end up down the entrepreneurial path anyway!

xox Gracie

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Rob March 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Great post, and just what I need to hear.

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Bryan June 9, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Peter,
Great post. I have been running my own business for several years now. I’ve gone through the ups and downs and although I’m on the upswing now. It just isn’t fast enough. I recently got married and we are talking about kids. I have an offer in the works to work for a much larger company in the same industry. The position would be at the C level and and concentrate on strategy. One of my favorite parts of what I do now. But it is still hard to even think about giving up my company. Your posts gives me some ideas for the right mindset for taking the job. In particular, “Why not frame a job as a recon mission?” Since I never studied business formally, this sounds like a great to get an education.

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Amy Johnson September 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm

I have been an online marketer since 2003. I am so sick to death of it now I want to stick a pen in my eye. I am bored of the same old thing and I am going to keep it running in the background and get a day job. I am sick to death of self employment too. This is a wonderful article- validation that it’s okay to change. Sometimes this change is your sanity and your anchor to relaxing from stress and debt.

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Brook September 30, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Very Good article. I really enjoy what I do when I do it (Graphic Design) and I have 20+years experience.

I’ve struggled with my own design business over the years and I run into two problems.

#1. I think things are going to change just around the corner. It’s as though I’m being strung along by the devil of entrepreneurship. I have two to three lean months and just at the point I’m going to give up I have a good month, get inspired and think I can do this, I’ve finally turned the corner! Then the cycle repeats and it’s such a slow painful death, its almost impossible to see it happening!

#2. I’ve tried to get a “normal job” and cannot. I don’t know what I’m do wrong but I think I’m over qualified there are many kids out of college have exceptional design skills are are excited to get a job at $35,000 a year.

I think many self-employed people are that way because they can’t find a “real job”. No so much that they choose to be self-employed. I get frustrated with people who say go get a job as though they are like a light switch you can just flip on and poof there is a job.

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Toby Hazlett October 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm

This thread has been great to read. I have been running my own IT business computer repairs etc now for the past 4 years and it has been a great experience for me and made some money along the way. However i have been dreading going to work the past few months and am not finding any happiness in what i do.

After reading the posts above i have also been thinking about either winding back the business and getting a contractor tech to cover for me which will mean a reduced income and i was thinking of going and working for another company doing software sales, or completely going the other way and going to study university.

I don’t feel as bad to see other business owners here facing similar problems. I guess i have lost my “Vision” for my business and dread most days going to work now and see it as a chore instead of enjoying it like i used to.

Like what was mentioned above, what can i say to an employer in a job interview about why i quit my business and getting a job again? I would rather be happy and work for someone else for a year or so at this stage as i am getting mega burned out in my current business. Thankyou again for this page. Great info!

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Oli February 3, 2015 at 8:01 am

Great post. I have been struggling with this for 3 or 4 years now.
It even led me to launch a second business to try and bring in more income.
This only led me to lose my focus and have to worry about even more things!
I am now completely frustrated and looking for work.
It was hard to accept and something I have struggled with for nearly 6 months now. This article helped me realise that i’m not failing or unsuccessful by getting a job. I’m simplifying my life and getting some new skills while i’m at it.

Thanks

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Claire March 13, 2015 at 11:50 pm

Hello, I enjoyed reading your post. I run a small graphic design business and have so for almost 8 years. The debt never gets any easier and I’m sick of working for no wage in fact its costing me money, as work is low and I’m losing my passion for it, just wearing too many hats with multiple responsibilities and no change in pocket each month.
So I’ve decided to get a part time job. I’m applying for 2 that are up my alley. But… What are some ways of explaining why I’m looking for a job to a potential employer without mentioning my failure?

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Mwamba Chanda April 4, 2015 at 4:09 pm

I dont understand. The freelance guy was an entrepreneur failing, couldnt pay for gas and food but he had money for psychoanalysis with you? Hmmm

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chuks May 1, 2015 at 6:15 am

Thank you Pete for this article. The fact is that asides personal business virtues there are two important things required for any meaningful engagement – money and skill. I suggest those seeking for what to tell an employer need to be proud and focus more on the lessons learnt over the years. This should form their story and like Pete said be honest. Let me end with this observation that startles me. Robert Kiyosaki wrote the famous Rich Dad Poor Dad and then created a game (cashflow). But if you have played the game you would notice that every life in the game starts with a job (that provides salary) and is sustained with the Payday event. So a financial base (backup)is important for a better focus.Thanks again Pete.

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Maqsood December 5, 2015 at 7:08 am

I will not agree with this artical to quite your business and join a job, because you are going to deep water instead of enjoying to sit on the side. if one have talent and do the business then I would say that business is like green valley and the job is like a desert in which you wondering with limited resources.

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Ethan March 24, 2016 at 6:19 am

I quit my day job to accomplish my business goals. I must say, ” If you’re proficient with your business model – how good it can be and how worse it can get” you already on your way to become a successful entrepreneur.
Loved this article!

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