I get it. The idea of working for someone else is repulsive, right? My friend once described it as, “renting someone else’s desk.” Every single person I know that’s in business school and isn’t planning on a career in law or accounting are all thinking the same thing; how can we start a business right now.
And that’s great. Being your own boss can be really rewarding. Getting to run things your way and turn your vision into a reality is great. But when you start a business at 18…or 19…or 20… you’re missing out on an opportunity to learn. And anytime that you can learn, that’s a good thing. So with that in mind, here’s 6 reasons why it’s ok to get a job.
Have You Met Ted?
Other people have ideas too. Those ideas might be good. Those ideas might be bad. But the important part comes just from meeting people and talking to people. Especially people that don’t have to say “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” to you every time you have an idea. Surrounding yourself with people that get to say to your face that you have a stupid idea will change your life.
Working with people in a place that isn’t all about you is one of the most educational experiences you’ll have. You’ll learn more about the psychology of work the first time you drink out of the mug that belongs to Chuck, the strange guy from operations, than you will in a semester of learning about how teams work together. You’ll learn more about management from having a drink with Susan and Cheryl and Peggy and talking about how their boss treats them than you will from most management classes.
Work with people. Listen to them. Find out what makes them tick. You can’t do that when you sign their paycheque.
Have You Met Ted’s Friend…and His Barber…and His Accountant?
Most of my network over the years has come from work. Maybe my network isn’t people that I’ve directly worked with, but they’re people that worked with people that I worked with. They’re the brothers and sisters and accountants and barbers and doctors of people I worked with.
When we hear about most startups that AREN’T founded by current students or recent grads, we often find that they worked together somewhere else before they launched. Working with people or around people gives you definitive insight into how they work. There is great value in meeting someone in an environment where they have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I can walk into a networking event and be an absolute rock star but it’s not until we sit down and start working together that you find out I’m tone deaf and can’t read music.
How Does This Work?
I’ve worked my fair share of jobs. I’ve been a corporate trainer. I’ve managed large teams of employees. I’ve picked strawberries. I’ve run a software department at a retail store. I’ve written content for national brands on behalf of one of the top ranked marketing firms in the country. I’ve told people to turn their phones off before the movie begins. I’ve built computers. I’ve thrown drunk people out of bars. I’ve surveyed people on behalf of the Canadian government. Sometimes those last two seemed pretty interchangeable. Now while I don’t use the particular tasks from MOST of those jobs in my day to day life, the processes are key.
My personal belief is that every single job you have ever or will ever hold has some purpose. It’s hard to see that when you’re cleaning up a bathroom or getting yelled at over the phone but here’s my suggestion. Look at the big picture. How does management work? How does their pay system work? Or does it? How do they recruit talent? How do they improve talent? How do they communicate with clients? Each of these processes is important to understand because if and when it comes time for you to run your own show, you’ll have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
Ouch. That’s Gonna Leave a Mark
Businesses succeed or fail based primarily on how they deal with something I’ve dubbed (I’m sure someone else thought of it first, but they didn’t write this post now, did they?) pain points. Paint points can be related to your product, your customer, your employees or your process and the simple definition is that pain points are anything that doesn’t work the way you want it to. Pain points are also the number one thing you need to understand if you’re going to run your own business. Why?
Think of Airbnb. People didn’t sit around and say, “wouldn’t it be neat if there was a way we could leverage existing property into a revenue generating concept.” People said, “we’re broke and all we have is this stupid apartment.”
When you work with people, you learn about the things that they hate and the things that they love. So many businesses have sprung up by solving a piece of the puzzle. People work in large companies and realize that one little piece of that puzzle doesn’t work very well so they peel away all the other layers and focus on that one problem.
There’s this great local company called Proposify. The guys who run Proposify figured out that the way companies, especially agencies, handled proposals sucked. No one liked it. So instead of starting an agency that did proposals “the right way”, they decided to make a product that would solve that problem for agencies. They’ve now partnered with some of the biggest platforms in the world to deliver their product to more and more people, who all had that same problem.
The Cheddar, Benjamins, Green, Stacks…
Good news. You’re 22 years old. You have a degree in business. You’re $40k in debt. Awesome. So now you’ve decided that it’s a good time to start your own business. All you have to do is take out a big loan and hit the ground running. So now you’re $100k in debt. You’ve never had a job so you have no work experience. But you’ve got a startup. So, there’s that.
Along with building your network, learning what makes businesses tick, figuring out what problems you need to solve and being surrounded by interesting people, it doesn’t hurt that businesses pay you to work for them. You don’t have to live in squalor and just eat Mr. Noodles in your parent’s basement while you watch the bus go by you because you can’t afford to take it as you walk to a coffee shop in the pouring rain to use their wifi and try to build your empire. Money is not your enemy. Complacency is your enemy. It’s ok to start your business in the spare room of your house and drive a car. There’s no shame in that.
Everybody’s Working For The Weekend
Way too many people have no idea what work is actually like. They think that every office is about sending memes back and forth while you drink espresso in a room with glass walls listening to hip hop on a record player while you Google “KPI”. Working in a place with a great atmosphere is awesome. But if I can recommend one thing to everyone it’s that at least once in your life you work at a job where you have to physically do things. Hammer something. Break things in half. Throw things in a bin. Mop a floor. That’s what work is.
It’s fine to sit at the top of the empire but it’s a very good idea to know what happens on all the other rungs of life. Working, physical or otherwise, will provide you with an idea of what the world is actually like that you can’t learn in a classroom or at an accelerator or in a facebook group.