Quit Your 9-to-5
Source. Design by the author.

Let me guess. You hate your job. Your boss doesn’t treat you well. You don’t enjoy doing what you are doing. And even after working your ass off, you are living paycheck to paycheck. If you could, you would quit your 9-to-5 right away.

You are not alone.

Most people are unsatisfied with their jobs. They say they want to quit and start their own business. On its own, it’s not that bad of an idea.

But the thing is, these people don’t really want to become entrepreneurs. They only hate the life of an employee.

So what else can they do to keep the lights on? Why not run a business?

The problem with this line of thinking is that it assumes:

① Just because you hate your job, you can run a business

② Running a business is a piece of cake compared to maintaining a job

Why do they think so? These people often make one deadly mistake. They only see the reward and not the hustle behind it.

Hang on. There’s another extreme side of the scale with another set of interesting people.

They dismiss the idea of starting a business altogether. “Hell no! It’s too risky.” They say.

Guess what do they do next?

They go back to their safety of getting employed by, you guessed it, some business.

I know. You are getting some mixed signals here. Right? It’s getting hard to read my suggestion. Whether to stick to your job or take the next big step?

If you leave your job and start your business in haste, you will lose a lot of money. On the other hand, if you hold on to your modest salary for the rest of your life, you will never realize your dreams.

So what to do?

Honestly, I don’t know what’s best for you. Either of these choices can do the trick, but only if you know what you are doing and why you are doing it. Otherwise, neither of them will work for you.

Here are five questions that will help you figure out whether you should sail off on your own or stick to your job.

What Do You Value More, Your Time, or Your Money?

While growing up, society conditions us to value money over anything else. So we earn a degree and get a job. Some of us set on our own and open a shop or run a small business to make ends meet.

The problem with this approach is that; whether you are an employee or own a small business, you are selling off your hours to earn money. By doing so, you are restricting your earning capacity to your active engagement.

I mean, if you don’t show up at your job or don’t open your shop for, say, ten days, you don’t make money. And you may lose your job.

So as long as you are tying your earnings down to how many hours you can physically work, quitting your job and starting your own business won’t make much difference.

Here’s what you need to understand.

Time is the most valuable asset you have, not money. You can’t buy back the five hours you spent earning $50 even when you can pay $500 for it.

So if you want to become an entrepreneur, the goal isn’t to sell off your hours directly to make instant money. Instead, it’s more about solving problems and being scalable.

Which, in turn, brings us to the next question.

How Desperate Are You for Smaller Yet Instant Rewards?

If you are more concerned about your coming few months than the next five years, you are better off sticking to your job.

I don’t mean it as an insult. Running a profitable, scalable business isn’t for everyone. After all, not everyone can take the same risks. Nor does everyone want the same wins.

Make no mistake. It isn’t a hobby or passion project. It is the world that purely follows the law of survival of the fittest. You don’t just launch a business and start earning millions.

Besides, if you see your business as a tool to fulfill your personal needs, you will lose anyway. As M.J. DeMarco puts it in his smash hit, The Millionaire Fastlane:

Stop thinking about business in terms of your selfish desires, whether it’s money, dreams or “do what you love.” Instead, chase needs, problems, pain points, service deficiencies, and emotions.

Always remember.

People don’t pay for a drilling machine.

No, they buy the holes.

So if you are considering quitting 9-to-5 and starting your business, and if you want to win the game, you have to put the market’s needs before your own.

And you won’t get it right the first time. So make sure you can outlast losses before the big win.

Do You Know the Risks? Can You Manage Them Well?

How to make business less risky? At its core, any functional business is all about solving problems. And if you are good at it, there will always be a place for you in the market. Let me explain.

The only way your leap of faith can turn into the leap of death is when you take unnecessary loans and let your ego take over the driving seat.

In fact, you don’t always need to quit your job to try out new business ideas in the market. And even if you do, you can fall back on your skills and get another job in case your business doesn’t work.

The only catch is that you have to:

Work on a product that meets a market gap: Don’t just come up with an idea and assume that there’s a place in the market for it. Instead, find a common problem and see if you can find a scalable solution.

Test that product without breaking the bank: Don’t take a lone and start mass producing your solution. First, you need to test how your target demographic reacts to it. The best way to do this is by using MVP.

That’s how you limit your potential risks to a minimum if your business doesn’t work.

But what if it does?

What would be your game plan to navigate a profitable company?

Do You Know Your Endgame?

I learned this from Tim Ferris. Who took it from Joshua Waitzkin, the American chess player, author, and martial artist.

Waitzkin’s first chess coach taught him to play chess in reverse. Instead of starting with the opening moves, he would begin with the endgame with very few pieces, for example, the king vs. the pawn and king.

What it does is that it pushes you t focus on the basic principles that you can apply throughout the game. So you can bob and weave and find your way through any situation you face.

On the contrary, if you memorize a few openings without understanding the basics, you will get crushed by people with better recipes.

Waitzkin even used the same learning principles on Tim Ferris. He managed to teach Ferris all the crucial moves of Brazilian jiu-jitsu through the ending choke move, the guillotine.

But what does that has anything to do with business? Well, the same rule applies here as well. Here’s how.

Start with what kind of exit plan is acceptable to you. By exit plan, I mean acquisition arrangements. When you manage to pull off a lucrative business, it’s about time that you will start receiving some offers.

When you have those components in place, it can help you in two ways:

① You can make the most out of your exit.

② You can reverse engineer your company structure from the start so that it caters to your exit strategy.

When you have your end game sorted, a mere 10–2 page tentative agreement can help you build a company worth acquiring by a much bigger company. So before you quit your 9-to-5, make sure you know what your endgame looks like.

Have You Put On Some Muscles While Doing Your Time?

While starting a business, having job experience can really work in your favor. That is, only if you have used the time to learn something valuable.

And again, if you have spent most of your work-life sleepwalking, you won’t survive as an entrepreneur.

Here, you have to have everything right. You have to have good judgment. You have to pick the right things to work on and the right team to work with.

The accountability is crazy high.

How to go about it? Use your job to your benefit before taking the leap. You can either be better at your job or find a job that comes with a great learning curve.

As Tim Ferris puts it:

Find a situation where you can be in the room with masters of a craft. That could be just deal-making…you sit in a room with an absolute pro at crafting deals, negotiating, and getting past no.

And how would it help you?

Learn before you earn. It’s never too late to do that. I don’t care if you are coming out of a college, out of a high school, 30, 40, whatever it is. System’s thinking. Focus on the skills and relationships first. And then you can just create a blank check for how much money you wanna make.

Of course, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. All they do is, help you reassess your priorities and consider all your options.

It doesn’t even matter if you don’t have all the answers yet. It’s all about asking yourself the questions. Otherwise, you will remain unaware of your unawareness.

That’s not a good place to be in, regardless of whether you are an entrepreneur or an employee.