Many aspiring entrepreneurs dream about leaving their day jobs. Often, it’s the frustration and lack of passion for a day job that drives someone to want to start their own business in the first place. But opinion on this is divided. While many entrepreneurs will strongly advocate keeping your day job for as long as possible, others will tell you that your business will never thrive until you make that jump.
So who is right? Which piece of advice should you listen to?
Well, it’s true that businesses often thrive only once an entrepreneur is working on it full time. But the reason for this isn’t as obvious as you might think. You might assume it is a simple math equation: 60+ hours on your business a week rather than 20+ hours must yield better, faster results, right?
But this isn’t the reason why businesses do better when the entrepreneur is running it full time. The reason isn’t related to the numbers. It’s actually related to that old phrase, “having skin in the game.” You see, it’s only when you don’t have your day job to fall back on that you really lose your “Plan B”. And without plan B, you have no choice but to make plan A work for you. That’s why entrepreneurs often thrive only once they are start doing it full time; it’s simply because they can’t afford to fail.
However, not all entrepreneurs thrive in that type of scenario. And that’s why you often get a split opinion about quitting your job. The answer actually lies in the “flight-or-fight” theory. Some people hate the fear of having no back-up option, and rather than encouraging that person to thrive it actually paralyses them into inaction. They get scared, quit their business, and go off to find another day job. The ‘flight’ scenario. Others thrive on fear. You’ll know if you are this type of person because when you were younger you often did your school assignments at the 11th hour and studied for exams the night before the tests. You did this because that’s when you worked at your peak. You have a personality type that thrives under pressure, and that pressure brings out the best in you. That’s you in ‘fight’ mode, and if that’s your personality type, then you will probably only start to see real results in your business when you have that sort of pressure.
Now, like many entrepreneurs, I don’t like to simply advise people to quit their day jobs because I don’t want to see anyone make a foolish decision. While it’s a great strategy for some entrepreneurs, there are certain situations when quitting your job is NEVER a good idea. So if any of these apply to you, then I would recommend that you keep your day job for as long as possible:
- You’re paying off debt.
- You don’t have any savings to fall back on (I’d suggest at least 6 months of savings to cover living expenses).
- You have a family to support and are the sole source of income.
- You have a high number of monthly expenses.
- You’re bad at managing your finances.
So, if you are wondering whether to quit your job, there are two things you need to do: Firstly and most importantly, you need to look at your own circumstances and whether you can afford to live without an income until your business starts making money. Secondly, you need to make an honest assessment about the type of person you are. Are you the type of person who will thrive under that sort of pressure? If you’re not, then a day job will help keep that pressure off you in the early days of your business.
About the Author
Lauren Lambie is an entrepreneur and author of The Glittering Eyes Brigade, a blog about her journey in starting her own business.