There are two things that you can do in your career. Two options to choose between.
You have to decide whether you want to make money for yourself or make money for someone else. You go to work every day to fill the pockets of your boss (the one way up the top who you don’t even see) and receive a slice of their pie – or you get out there and make your own.
When you have a solid job, you know that your money is coming in next week. I like that. From time to time, I’ve taken on short term, full time positions just to give my mind a break from worrying about how to pay my rent. That can be comforting. With a family to support, it can be a priority for you.
Unfortunately, that’s not enough. Not any more. If you really want to enjoy your working life — and I mean thoroughly enjoy it, not just find it bearable — you have to find a way to become your own boss.
This article is nothing new. Better writers than me have come up with it. But you can think of this as a signal boost, another voice shouting and hoping you’ll listen. In the future, I’d rather live in a world full of excited entrepreneurs, rather than people who are miserable.
Because Companies Aren’t Loyal.
It used to be that if you chose to work for someone else, you had stability, security and the knowledge that your loved ones were looked after. If you were loyal to the company, surely they’d be loyal to you. Unfortunately, these days that’s just not the case. Big businesses don’t think twice before downsizing.
Don’t you hate that word? It’s such an easy, sterile way to refer to fucking up someone’s entire life and placing their family under strain.
Your boss isn’t always going to look out for you. They won’t take a bullet for you. You could work till your fingers bled, and still end up out on your ass because it makes a spread-sheet even out.
Because Your Salary Is Capped.
You know what limits your salary when you work for your boss? You’ll only ever make as much as someone with no real connection to you or belief in your skills thinks you’re worth. Your boss will put a price on your sweat and your time, and some day you’ll look back and realise you were under-compensated — after all, you only have one life.
When you work for yourself, the limit of your salary is directly related to how hard you want to work and what work you choose to do. That’s it. There’s no begging for a pay rise, watching other people get paid more for doing a shit-tonne less. It’s all down to you.
Because Pensions & Retirement Funds Are Going To Leave You Destitute.
We all have this idea in our heads that the future is going to be okay. That we’ll retire some day, and magically have enough money in our pensions and 401k’s and superannuation funds. That we can spend our lives in comfortable poses inspired by retirees in stock photos.
The reality is, many people are going to reach retirement and suddenly realise there’s not enough money for them to live. That’s the way it’s all going. If you’ve worked for someone else your whole life, you could be in for a shock. If you work for yourself, the options are different. You don’t even have to retire, if it’s not what you want. And if you do, you could have an asset.
Because You Can’t Control Your Time.
When you work for someone else, they make the decisions that govern your life with the company’s best interests at heart. That’s fair enough, but it means you’re never going to be treated the way you want. Feeling like you can’t face the day? Try calling your boss and saying that to them. Want to take a sabbatical and hike up a mountain? I hope you’ve scrimped and saved your annual leave.
When you work for yourself, the decisions are yours. The priorities are yours. You can choose to do things that might not work out the way a corporation would want, but will still make you happy. You can choose when you work and where. You can control your life.
Because Your Life Won’t Wait.
How often have you thought about something and put it in the “someday” box? I hate that box. It’s full of ghosts and bad memories.
The list of things I’ve left in there is both long and depressing. A half-dozen courses from Udemy, Instapaper articles with lists of the best restaurants in Sydney and my old guitar.
When your focus is on working for someone else, your motivation to do something else with your time just dies. This is because you spend 9 hours a day having every moment dictated to you by workplace policies. It trains you to stop spending your time with meaning or thought. When you work for yourself, you are forced to become mindful of each passing second.
Because The Freedom Is Worth It.
Did you know the Daily Telegraph recently installed electronic desk monitors to measure exactly how much time their employees spent at their work stations? The journalists weren’t even notified. They had to Google the devices to find out what they were dealing with.
When you work for someone else, you’re left open to abuses of your freedom. There are companies who spy on their workers’ screens, who spy on their every working movement. People aren’t meant to be controlled like that, people should be trusted and respected.
Until you break away from having a boss, you’ll never experience that kind of freedom. There’s always going to be someone who wants to exert control over you. It’s the way corporate life works. It’s shit, but there it is.
It will be rough. It will be hard. You will, I can promise, want to quit and go back to the safety of your old life. As long as you stay focused, and work, and try, there is just no reason you can’t carve out a better life.
In the end, it’s going to be up to you. This is like one of those old-school video games, where the story will change depending on the option you pick. Press A to make money for someone else. Press B to make money for yourself.
Thing is, the helpless character you’ll be trying to rescue in this game is your own fucking sanity. And there’s no option to play through a second time.
Thanks for reading — I’m Jon Westenberg. I’m an entrepreneur, writer and avid learner. I advise start-ups and investors on how to build profitable companies and operate with a small business start-up mentality. You can read more about me on my website…
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…Or just reach out and say hi!