A few months ago, in between two jobs, I thought about going freelance, to start my own business. The idea of creating my own project, of being helpful to leaders and people I believe in, excites me a lot. The creativity, the freedom, the passion. Those are all things I want in my life, and being an entrepreneur is the picture of those things for me.
Curious to learn more about entrepreneurship, I subscribed and completed with success an online course on “How to succeed launching your business without a business plan” by HEC Montréal. Over the six weeks, I learned a lot, and got even more passionate about businesses and entrepreneurship.
I love the idea of a startup, of creating something from scratch, of developing a new product, and needless to say, of learning through failure too. I love the idea of taking risks, daring to try something different, planning, innovating, living. IRL, getting out there, not hiding in a cubicle. Doing something that makes sense to you.
So, the next question would be “When am I going to jump?” Euhm, definitely not yet.
Although I qualify myself as very passionate and intuitive, I’m also someone who likes to think a lot, analyze, and plan. To nurture my reflections about entrepreneurship, I researched that topic over the Internets, reading lots of articles. I also talked with great people who launched their own business. What I learned is very interesting IMHO, and made me think twice before starting my own company.
A day job offers you the opportunity to focus on your strengths
Launching a business is hard work, maybe the toughest job out there. It requires astronomic amounts of time and energy to get things going. You absolutely do need to be passionate about your work, your mission, to get through it.
Not only is it hard work, it’s also a competitive world out there, and you need to be willing to invest yourself a 100% (a 10000% I’d say) to eventually make it past the first years.
I’m fine with that part. I’m a dedicated and hard worker, and often go above and beyond the expectations to make projects come alive. As I was mentioning before, I’m passionate, and everything I do, I do with my whole heart. Working on a project I care about deeply always gets me going and give me extra energy to keep my motivation up, so that part is not the deal-breaker for me.
However, after having experience a job outside my field, I’m now happier than ever with my role. As a Communications Advisor, I use my top strengths (strategic planning, writing, and creative projects’ development) on a daily basis. I don’t have to do any accounting, billing, website coding, and all other things I’d need to be doing or get help with if I had my own business. I can focus on what I love to do the most, the organization I work for takes care of the rest. I really appreciate the freedom it gives me to create those amazing projects and events, to meet with new people, and to develop great strategies.
A day job can also be the way to a passionate life
While you need to be passionate about your project to be able to persevere in business, your business does not have to be about one of your life’s passions. In fact, it’s not always a good idea to choose to pursue your passion when time comes to choose what your business will be about. Passion might not be such a great starting point.
Given the description of passion from the the Oxford dictionary, a passion is “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something”. Our passions are about stuff we love deeply for no reason. Most people are passionate about things they do as a hobby: yoga, wine tasting, surfing, etc. Ever heard of anyone doing customer service just for fun, or marketing to relax on weekends? Ok, I confess I do love to watch webinars on a Saturday morning while prepping breakfast, but if I was given the choice between that and yoga, yoga wins. Let’s say it’s not the number one thing on my to-do list on vacation.
While you still can have a lot of fun playing rugby or watching football, those are not the things that will make you successful. The deep drive to help, to serve customers, will get you a lot further. You can love the challenge, love the reflection work around creating strategies to improve the user experience, love the idea of having to come up with a unique product that will fulfill a need. You can love it, without having it to be a passion, without that “intense desire”.
“It took me a few years to realize what I really liked about the pizza business wasn’t pizza at all. It was marketing — getting into people’s heads and figuring out exactly which promotions would boost sales.” – Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite
I’m passionate about my work (how many times will I mention it in this article?!), I love almost every responsibility I have related to it. As I mentioned, I’m really working within my strengths, and love the challenges that I get when developing a new project, but my work does not evolved around my three passions, which are yoga, books, and life. Working for an organization leaves me with some time off for other projects (yes, DTBJ), which in return makes me be an even more complete professional by helping me develop new skills, build confidence, and meet new people.
With that time off where I don’t have to think too much about work, I get to also fully enjoy my yoga classes, write, catch up with family and friends, read, do pretty much whatever I want to make me happy. That, in return, helps me stay balanced, and makes me an even more productive and happy employee. Great, isn’t it?
“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Fulgham
A day job keeps a creative mind happy
Mixing your passions with your business might be dangerous. Fun is an essential part of my life, and transforming one of my passions into a living might take the fun out of them, a risk I’m not willing to take right now. If I was to work as a full-time yoga teacher let’s say, I know it’d add some pressure to my practice. I use yoga as a stress reliever, but if it was to become my main source of income, would it still be that relaxing? I doubt so.
Creatives : you might want to keep your day job. Enjoy that steady income, avoid the added pressure to create something successful that will sell and therefore not being truly authentic to themselves through their art. This allows your creativity to unleash, also allowing you to create and be passionate about your work, without having to think about anybody buying it in order for you to be able to buy grocery this week.
“Debt will always be the abattoir of creative dreams.” – Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
Working with constraints is also a great way to develop your creativity. And what better constraints than working 40 hours a week (kidding, I’m at 35)? You’ll have to create space for creativity in your schedule with a regular job, which in my case, helps me focus on what’s really my priority. I write about the stuff I cannot not write about, the things I cannot not share with you, the ideas that kept coming back to my mind until I release them out into the world. That’s the work I cannot not do, the work I love. Having to do it in a limited amount of time is as much as a constraint as a way to focus on what matters.
Still not convinced? Some of the most famous creatives of our times also chose to keep their day job. The key is to make good use of your time, and focus on your objectives. If one of them is to create, then I am positive you’ll find the time to do it. After all, there is still plenty of time around the 9-to-5, you can either rise up early like I love to do to get time for yourself before heading to work, or work in the evenings or on the weekends, like I do.
Still unsure? Gary Vaynerchuck got you.
” The truth is, you have a LOT more time than you think.
You’ve got 24 hours a day.
Let’s say you work a 9 to 5. Cool. That’s 8 hours a day.
And let’s say you commute an hour there and an hour back. Cool. That’s 10 hours total.
Want to spend time with your family? Awesome, you can spend 2 hours with them when you get home.
Need 7 hours of sleep a night? Great.
You’ve still got 5 hours a day left. ” – 6 time management techniques from a guy who has no time, Gary Vaynerchuck
Even though it’s sometimes harder to get started, to take your brushes out if you’re painting a picture, or to sit down and start writing, if you’re an author, it can also be a lot more satisfying in the end then watching another episode of Breaking Bad. Your creativity is your gift, make the best use of it to bring joy to your life.
A day job is a great place to interact
Finally, as much of a people’s person I am, I’m also a loner. I need some time alone to think, to be with myself, to find my inner peace. I can easily disconnect from the rest of the world, as my internal world is full of wonder. When I work for my blog let’s say, I often completely lose track of time, thinking, creating, developing. I can stay in this creative bubble for more than a day, not talking to anybody without interruptions.
However, as a very sensitive being, I also need the warmth and the feeling of being connected to others. While you do get that walking in the streets, or going in a yoga class, I find that being in an office, working along colleagues, even if you’re not talking to them, is comforting. I can be in my own bubble, without being completely disconnected.
These small interactions might be one of the keys to our happiness. As proven in many studies, relationships are essential to our happiness. We are social animals.
” The interactions we have with other people affect the way we feel about life. Our close relationships keep us grounded and influence both happiness and the sense that we are part of a larger community. Interestingly, even our interactions with people we do not know that well give us a sense that we are part of that larger community. When we are first introduced to that community, those interactions and that feeling of belonging also increase our happiness.” – Art Markman Ph.D., Ulterior Motives
A day job is about working together
I used to prefer working alone. Then I got it. I understood that magic happens when we mix diverse ideas, unleash our creativity together, let our minds get wild together. I’m a firm believer now the best projects take form when you share and confront ideas.
Once I learned how to work successfully in a team, things went crazy good. I’m often amazed at the amazing results we get when we work as a team. As a strategic communications advisor, I can create a strategy, come up with an idea for a concept, but only the experts in my team, the graphic designer, the web developer, the filmmaker, the photograph, can bring the project to life. Often, what we come up with as a team is 10x better than what I had envisioned, as everyone is adding their personal touch to the project.
“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” – Andrew Carnegie
At the end of the day
As you can see, as much as I love creating projects, developing strategies, and working with people, I’m not ready yet to start the adventure of entrepreneurship. In fact, it’s because I love doing those things that I choose not to go solo, as I love the freedom I have to be the passionate and creative professional I want to be. I choose to be an intrapreneur instead, and will make sure I get the most out of my journey as an employee using my creative talents to bring innovative processes and creative strategies to my organization.
“The point of simple living, for me has got to be: a soft place to land, a wide margin of error, room to breathe. Lots of places to find baseline happiness in each and every day” ― Leo Babauta, Zen Habits