July 21, 2020

Working 9-5-is a Waste of Life

"9 to 5 is for losers" declared Harry with an air of arrogance.

I raised my eyebrows, "Really?"

Harry doubled down, "Yes, they are losers. Dude, why would anyone want to spend their entire life working on the same fucking thing, day in and day out, week after week, month after month and year after year..."

I pointed out, "Aren't you making too many assumptions?"

Harry asked, "Like what?"

I said, "Not everyone is going to do the same work throughout their lives, people switch jobs, move departments, get promotions..."

Harry cut me off, "But it's still a 9-5 job, they are still expected to be at their desk by a certain time, they are still expected to clock in 40 hours with hardly any freedom or autonomy and you will be surprised how many people end up being in the same position, doing the same job with no intention of ever moving up the ladder."

I thought for a second before saying, "But not everyone wants a promotion and not everyone does their job just for money, some do it because they love their work. "

Harry raised his eyebrows.

I insisted, "What? There are people who do their jobs because they genuinely love them..."

Harry interjected again, "Cut the sh*t, most people do it because that's what they are taught to do or think they have to do, they are too afraid to get out of their comfort zone and are willing to settle for a boring, mediocre life, spending their time whining and complaining about their salary, boss and colleagues."

I declared, "Not everyone CAN be an entrepreneur, not everyone WANTS to be an entrepreneur, not everyone HAS to be an entrepreneur and not everyone WILL be an entrepreneur."

After this conversation, I again met Harry after 2 years.

I casually asked him how his business was and he said, "I no longer have my own business, I have a full time job."

Surprised by his answer, I asked, "What happened?"

Harry narrated his story.

Everything was going pretty well at the SaaS company - Harry and his partner started.

In fact, they were growing like crazy and had to hire and expand their team fast to keep up with the increasing customer demand.

Harry was really good at marketing and sales while his partner was skilled at programming and coding but due to the rapid growth of the company, Harry had to be closely involved in other domains like recruitment and hiring, making presentation pitch decks and seeking additional investments.

He had to put in 80+ hours a week and as a result he was completely stressed out and exhausted.

To make matters worse, his marriage suffered due to constant travel and long hours at work.

Things at his company weren't going too well with customers complaining about the lack of prompt customer service to their support tickets and employees were turning over at an alarming rate.

Harry started having conflicts with his business partner which worsened over time and at home his wife gave him an ultimatum - either be present, spend time with her and make their marriage a priority or she was leaving.

After giving it a long thought, he finally decided to get out of the business and when he communicated the same to his business partner, he became very angry and accused him of being weak, spineless and cowardly.

Things escalated and spiraled into an ugly war of words which completely destroyed their friendship and trust they had for each other.

Both of them consulted separate business lawyers and there were several bitter exchanges and insults hurled at each other at the meetings.

After a series of endless meetings, Harry ended up with a sum that was less than the money he had spent for his attorneys, travel, lodging and other expenses.

The only good thing he mentioned that came out of the bitter experience was that he realized how much his wife loved him and supported him throughout the tough period.

She asked him not to worry about the business loss and instead focus on what he wanted to do next.

Harry started applying for jobs and he got hired as the Marketing Director at a software company.

He finally said, "I learned my lesson. I was too cocky, too arrogant and this has taught me to be humble and grateful."

I love entrepreneurs.

As an entrepreneur myself, I greatly appreciate the freedom and autonomy of running your own business.

You are your own boss, you can decide when you want to work, where you want to work and how you want to work. You can earn as much as you want and as little as you want. You can be a solopreneur or run a company with a small team or have a huge army of skilled and talented people to grow your business.

But entrepreneurship is not all rainbows and unicorns.

It's painful and hard and lonely and NOT for everyone.

Yes- entrepreneurship can be extremely profitable - if you get it right, but it can also be downright devastating when you get it wrong.

The stats are scary - according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, upto 20% of new businesses fold within the first 2 years, 45% within the first 5 years and 65% during the first 10 years.

The margin of error is smaller than you think and you will be tested physically, mentally and emotionally.

There will be plenty of moments of self-doubt, confusion and frustration as you navigate into uncharted territories.

You will be stuck, you will experience failure and rejection and you will have to make decisions not knowing whether they will end up turning good or bad.

While you pour your heart and soul into your product or service or software, you will find the investors, clients and consumers don't really give a damn.

When things don't go your way, you won't know whether you need to persist or pivot.

You won't be able to ask for guidance from family or friends because they are NOT entrepreneurs and can't understand the constraints and challenges you are dealing with.

You will have to figure it out yourself or seek out mentors. 

You will have to have firm boundaries so that you don't bring your business home.

You will have to learn how to switch off so that you can be completely present with your loved ones at home.

You will have to learn how to take care of your health because in the pursuit of business success, you can easily neglect your health and well-being in the long run.

In short, entrepreneurship isn't for everyone and if you are a successful entrepreneur, good for you and if you happen to be one of those entrepreneurs who believe 9-5 is for losers, I have two words for you

- Fuck you.

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