Updated: Nov 14
Back when I was in first year varsity and working part time for an NGO, this co-worker - let’s call him Jay - was a pretty shady dude. Naturally, he was a radical who would randomly spout abolitionist, alternative, or radical living content. Talks varied from the ones I liked such as “Gender is a psychological construct humans used to understand the world” to “Gay people are a government conspiracy and they were fed something at birth to make them this way.” Suffice it to say he was a pretty controversial man who would say the first thing out of his mouth and argue you into circles until you forgot what you were even defending. It was at one such conversation where he was talking about how he’s nearing an age where he does not see himself working anymore and is moving forward with his business idea. He was basically pushing the agenda that we should all be starting our own business and stimulating black economic growth and how we should not be spending too much time working instead we should be venturing out seeking to be our own boss ( I am paraphrasing here). And the others who were present at the time of this chat, were all riled up and excited. I however, being it a childish need to be contrary or snarky or a genuine thought and stance that I hadn’t fully developed at 18, boldly stood and said “not everyone needs to be their own boss or and entrepreneur to have a successful life or a life that stimulates economic growth, you’re just ego tripping” at the time we argued, I of course had a good laugh but we reached the consensus that if the spirit isn’t in you, it just isn’t and hey. I can say even now, as someone who currently at 22 runs three successful side hustles, it’s still not in me, it's just a case of necessity. And granted I was taught these entrepreneurial (Jesus what a word) skills in school but some I had to do research on and discover myself. They have been extremely helpful and incredibly good to me, especially in the past years with all the job losses and covid changing the world. I was still able to sustain myself and buy myself shiny things and be happy and I am eternally grateful and maybe Jay was on to something.
But here’s the thing, there is no part of me that enjoys the entrepreneurial hustle or process - just getting the money and getting out. And I do have a dream job: I want to travel around the world. Building an encyclopaedia of stories from all walks of life that help widen perspectives while being paid an obscene amount by my publisher and having a great relationship with my boss and co-workers. I do. I desire to work till retirement and I cannot lie. I see the appeal of not having a boss, being my own manager and paying myself and being absolutely rudderless in what I do. But I enjoy knowing that at a certain hour of the day, I can throw papers in the air, go home and not have to think about work until a certain hour the next morning. I can then simply go to my friends and complain about my awful coworkers who always mess something up or how that place is lost without me.
As someone running their own businesses, you don’t get to do that. I currently lay awake worrying about budget, sales, and whether I'll even break even this month and what I am going to do about a certain unhappy client or some straining work. I have to save my business for yet another month or tools and equipment I have to buy. I am so stressed half the time that if you shake me I will genuinely start crying and it won’t be a joke.
Here’s what they don’t tell you in those inspirational Jay Chetty videos (Coincidence my co worker was not Jay Chetty) or those hype “Buy my book to learn how to start your own business and make six figures monthly”. Mastering your own destiny does not always involve entrepreneurship, and the business idea is not the only way to change the world for the better. Only if your drive and desire is greater than money, will you ever enjoy this because it is stressful since you do not have the security blanket of a day job.
You will probably not rest much or have much quality time with loved ones. It’s a commitment far greater than you’ll understand until you are finally untethered. Absolutely terrifying. Don’t be incited by the flashy people in Lamborghinis telling you about Shopify or how you can start making money for yourself by reading their book and starting a business. (Here’s another thought, if they have already unlocked the secret to millions , why are they wasting time trying to sell you a book and not out in a yacht somewhere by the coast of Greece? Just thinking.) The reality of entrepreneurship is so different. The dangers of preaching a scheme without warning people of the downsides? I’m wincing. Beyond the fear of leaving that safe, secure, constant day job, there are pitfalls and more businesses fail within the first year than not. So I am again, choosing a contrary position but with none of the snark. It really is not for everyone and if you are one of those people going around making others feel bad for not wanting to leap in and take that risk by starting a business, please stop, no need to lord it over us that we chose security and what we actually like doing.
And hey, if you’re even a little like that radical ex-coworker then let me say, go for it. You need to try it out at least a few times, expect a few crashes and burns, maybe a lot, but if your reason is really to solve a problem and help people, you’ll eventually get there (Jay has personally been through this, he left and came back to his post at work a few times.) But! Heed me well, if your goal is just money and posting it up in fancy TikToks, maybe just upskill yourself and get a better paying job (maybe rob a bank). Because the truth is that all this cookie cutter ready-made Shopify and drop shipping businesses won’t last long. You need to really know your ‘WHY?’ and enjoy it because trust me, it’s not easy at all. It’s a lot harder than that job you’re currently holding on to and may have less rewards.
Consider in capitalist economies: there are essentially two people, those who dupe others and those who are duped.One who takes and one who has his things taken from. So maybe it’s not so bad getting duped, but in turn working a job happily, being wise with your money and buying yourself overpriced coffee from your locally owned franchise machine. There really is no harm in never starting a business. You’re not crazy for not getting free enterprise urges. If the bug never bites you, that’s okay! You might be considered dull, drab or a stooge by the Jays of the world, but I would rather live chasing your true happiness and purpose. It might just be there, in the clocking in and out, getting paid, the shiny things you’ll get yourself, and saving for that nice retirement in Greece.
About the author:
I am a person of the world with a window that allows me many lives. Music and good food are why I'm still here. Apples are my arch enemy.