At some point in our lives, we have to make a decision about which direction we want our careers to go in. Regardless of your experience in the job market or the lack thereof, your individual preference and level of tolerance plays a vital role in how your career turns out. Some people prefer stability in a carefully laid out career path while others are risk takers and don’t mind charting their own course. At the end of the day, what is important to know is that, you have a choice in the matter.
Growing up, we are told to pay attention in school, make good grades, graduate and then find a great job. Nobody ever told us “develop your mind and create your own employment”. Because of this lack of balance and perspective, many people are stuck in jobs they were not meant to do and certainly do not enjoy doing, all because this path was the only option they saw for earning a living. In fact, many of us do not understand the difference between the “entrepreneurial path” and the “employee path”.
So I thought a post on the matter is only right. To begin, let’s first define entrepreneurship and employment.
Entrepreneurship is the act of and willingness to set up and transform a business entity with the hope of making a profit and creating value. An entrepreneur is someone who sees an opportunity and willingly assumes all of the risks associated with taking advantage of that opportunity. Entrepreneurship most commonly manifests in the form of self-employment. Employment on the other hand is a relationship between two parties, the employer and the employee, with the employee rendering services for which he is paid.
On the one hand, succeeding as an entrepreneur means being able to take on calculated risks and challenging situations in an effort to move your business forward and create value for your clients. Succeeding as an employee on the other hand means being able to create value for your boss and employer.
When deciding whether to become an entrepreneur or an employee, you must first consider the kind of life you would like to have.
The Employment Path
If you prefer a linear career growth, fixed working hours, structured work environment, fixed and consistent salary and benefits, and clear and precise Terms of Reference (TOR), the Employee’s path is the best path for you.
As an employee, you have a guaranteed income at the end of every pay period, whether weekly or monthly. Your roles and responsibilities are defined and you are only responsible for implementing tasks related to your particular role. Moreover, you have fixed leave and holiday benefits and you can easily visualize the opportunities available for career advancements in the organization.
The Entrepreneurial Path
For those who are driven, want total control of their time and money, and have a high degree of tolerance for risk and uncertainty, the Entrepreneurial Path is the right path for you.
As an entrepreneur, the burden of success sits squarely on your shoulders. You have the freedom to chase your dreams and aspirations in the way that you see fit and without the supervisory scrutiny of a Boss. You have the independence to decide when and how long you want to work, and the potential for financial earning is much flexible and higher than that of an employee. However, the entrepreneurial path comes with a lot of risks. Since there is no certainty that the business will succeed, there is no financial security. In fact, you invest more of your money, time and energy in building a start-up without any guarantee of a return on investment. You have to be everything – Lawyer, accountant, sales and marketing agent and the CEO. As a result, you work longer hours and deal with more stressful situations.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that one path is better than the other. In fact, both paths are similar in a lot of ways.
- Both entrepreneur and employee must have some technical and professional skill to grow the business or execute their responsibilities effectively.
- Both have to commit to continuous learning and improvement to stay relevant in their respective paths.
- Both must cultivate people skills. Entrepreneur – to effectively communicate with investor, clients, employees, shareholders etc., while employees – to communicate with bosses, HR department, teammates, and interviewers when seeking new employment.
What I want you to understand and consider from this blog post is the key difference between employment and entrepreneurship and consciously make decisions that will steer you along the path that will bring you the most joy and fulfillment. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget what really matters in life. Choosing the right path and succeeding depends to a large extent on your mindset and the purpose you have defined for your life.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this post in the comment section.
Read next: How to cultivate the Entrepreneurial mindset