There’s no doubt that entrepreneurship provides opportunity, excitement and freedom that long-term, a corporate job can’t match.
However, if you’re chomping at the bit to start your own business, turned off by how unsexy the idea of a 9 to 5 is and are ready to embrace entrepreneurship straight out of college, hold off for just one second.
Before I graduated from college, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. But, I decided to first get a job and then start my business on the side.
If I had to do it over again, I’d do it the exact same way.
Here are seven reasons why you should at least consider giving the 9 to 5 a shot before leaping into entrepreneurship:
1. You need money to make money
No matter how much you bootstrap in the beginning of your business, you will still need to invest a few hundred or a few thousand dollars into a product, a website and a slew of other support structures such as legal support, payments processing and customer service.
Sure, maybe borrowing from your relatives is an option, but if you’re like many Millennials whose parents can’t afford to continue supporting them after college, the fastest way to scale from idea to income is by investing your salary back into your business.
2. You'll learn to walk before you run
Thinking back to when I first graduated from college, as much as I would have liked to believe otherwise, I can say now without a doubt that I was not ready to run my own business.
Professionally and personally, I needed the stability of a corporate environment in which to grow and mature before I was ready to start working for myself.
It’s inevitable you’ll make mistakes when starting out.
While even one misstep could be fatal in your own fledgling business, it’s significantly easier to bounce back within the much more forgiving environment that only a multi-million or multi-billion dollar company can provide.
3. You'll see what your end result might look like
If your goal is to ultimately build an empire, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
No matter where within a company you start out, you can learn a lot about how sales, marketing, product, HR, legal and operational support all fit together to support a large corporation.
Instead of trying to teach yourself everything as you go and wasting time inventing solutions that already exist, do yourself a favor and learn what the rules are before you decide which ones you want to break.
4. You'll learn to be a follower
To paraphrase Aristotle, “To be a good leader, you must first be a good follower.”
Even though beginning at the bottom was incredibly frustrating for me, it taught me compassion and empathy. Ultimately, it made me a much better leader.
Working my way up through the ranks from individual contributor to manager also gave me insight into what to look for when promoting within my own company.
It also taught me about additional considerations, such as salary, nurturing career growth and balancing what’s best for my business versus what’s best for my team.
5. You'll have access to a network of potential mentors
Everyone talks about the importance of having strong mentors at every point of their careers, and it’s much easier to find them and get on their calendars when you’re both part of the same company.
6. You'll be able to take more risks while growing your side business
A few months into launching my business, I started getting this question: “How were you able to grow your business so quickly?”
My response? "Because I grew it on the side."
This might seem counterintuitive at first, but the truth is, the stability and income from my day job helped skyrocket my business.
Not having to worry about supporting myself with my business revenue allowed me to invest back my earnings to maximize growth.
In addition, the stability my job provided me gave me the freedom to experiment with and invest in product launches, design, customer acquisition and support.
7. You'll learn to appreciate the freedom that entrepreneurship gives you
The upside of starting your own business is truly limitless and incomparable. But entrepreneurship is hard, and it’s not for everyone.
Starting out in a traditional job will allow you to explore the benefits of working for yourself, while determining if you’re willing to pay the cost in terms of hard work and hustle upfront.
In addition, it’ll also allow you to fully appreciate the freedom and flexibility that running your own shop can provide.
If you do decide full-on entrepreneurship is for you, leverage your day job to help you grow as quickly as possible, and then set a deadline for yourself.
After all, while a 9 to 5 is great to help you get started, there’s no point in sticking around for too long if you decide it’s not for you.