Newsflash: Having a job doesn’t make you a failure

Image Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds — Fotolia

For some time now, there has seemed to be a growing message that in order to achieve true happiness, you need to be self-employed. Not just any kind of self-employed though, right? You’ve really got to be some sort of ‘preneur, whether that be an entrepreneur, solopreneur, mumpreneur, intrapreneur, technopreneur… you catch my drift. And of course, through all of that ‘preneuring, you have to be hugely successful.

Success, mind you, is measured in multiple six and seven figure incomes as well as by how few hours you have to work. “Passive income” is the talk on everyone’s lips and webinars are so in vogue that there are now webinars teaching you how to do webinars, which of course is essential now that you are running your business “location-free” — ideally from a villa in Bali with a private plunge pool. I mean, if you don’t have all of that you couldn’t be happy… right?

I’ll just say now… I am not a hater

If ‘preneuring and plunge pools are the key to your happiness and you’ve got the motivation, energy, stamina and smarts to pull that off then I say, “More power to you”. But what I am interested in exploring, is what’s going on behind the Insta-filters and motivational quotes. What does it look like for us regular small business owners, who are hustling to get their message into the world?

Is everyone working full time in their business?

One thing that seems to be implied more often than not, is that all of these new small-business-owners who are making their way onto the internet, are starting their businesses from scratch, with a full time client load and the full time income that goes with it. It seems to be rare outside the “side-hustling” communities, for people to admit to themselves, let alone their clients, that in addition to their businesses, they also have jobs! Whether full time or part time, these “nine-to-fives” are taking the financial pressure off as they build their business. To me, this sounds incredibly sensible, but in the business world — it’s blasphemy. There are two huge issues that I have with this.

1. What message is being communicated that makes people feel that having a day job makes them a failure?

Now, I get it, success breeds success and all that. We want our customers to think we are hugely successful because that will make them want to work with us. Right? I want you to think about these questions:

  • Do you only want to buy from people that are wildly successful and earning six or seven figures from their business?
  • Would it matter to you whether your coach/designer/service provider was working full time at their business, even if they had a portfolio of testimonials and references from people they had previously worked with?
  • Would you only want to collaborate with another business owner if you knew that they didn’t have a day job?
  • Do you want to purchase from people who are inauthentic, representing themselves falsely or were “pretending” to be successful in the business world?

I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that your answers to the above questions were most likely “no”. If that is the case, it is time to get honest with each other. Building a business is a wonderful experience, but sometimes it is also really bloody awful. It is hard. There are a lot of tears and rejection and pushing ourselves way past our mental and physical limits. Let’s acknowledge this and support other small business owners who are feeling the same pain points and celebrating the same wins.

2. Jobs are cool.

I’m sorry, I don’t care whether you agree with me on this one. You won’t be able to convince me otherwise. If you don’t think jobs are cool, then I am afraid you haven’t found the right job.

I can understand the allure of working for yourself and I know why many people start their own businesses — probably for the same reason I started mine. The possibilities really are endless when you are your own boss and there is a definite increase in freedom, flexibility and autonomy. I get that one day you want to be the king or queen of your empire, having built a business that serves your personality, lifestyle choices and family needs. But until you reach that level of success and earn your crown, don’t be ashamed to have a side job to help you through.

Jobs are a great excuse to get out of your entrepreneurial trackpants, put on some makeup and meet up with some real life people. A job is a wonderful way to learn new skills, develop your knowledge and maintain relevancy in your industry in a way that might even enrich your business. And of course a job can be there for you, to alleviate the financial pressure of starting a business, so that you can show up authentically, effectively, consistently and from a place that is aligned with your own personal purpose, vision and values.

What can we do to turn things around?

In truth, I don’t know that this will ever change on a grand scale. The six figure dream, the private jets and the location-free living are all too tempting. What we can do though, is be true to ourselves and be true to our communities in the hope that our honesty and integrity will spread, so that other like-minded small business owners understand that having a day job that supports your business, does not make you a failure.

Hi, my name is Rebecca. I have a job that is supporting me while I build my business. And I am proud of it.

Rebecca McFarland is the creator of Pop Your Career, a website dedicated to providing the freshest career advice that won’t bore your socks off. If you like the cut of her jib, you can sign up to get access to her weekly newsletter, The Hump Day Digest, as well as her free ebook, How to Define Your Purpose Vision and Values (Then Use Them to Craft Your Perfect Career!).