Talk about romanticism: We are so quick to celebrate those quitting their day jobs, yet chastise those sensible enough to let their business grow from side hustle to full strength. In the latest rue, Fox News shamed '80s sitcom actor Geoffrey Owens of The Cosby Show for being spotted working at Trader Joe's. You can almost hear the collective gasp of seeing a middle-aged man make a respectful living. 

Don't believe the hype - there is nothing dishonorable about having a day job, especially when you see Owens is still acting! In fact, having too much pride to have a day job can hurt your goals way more than help it.

Why we don't feel authentic

It is easy to confuse high risk with maximum creativity, assuming that you have to put it all on the line to be a success - otherwise, you're not living an authentic path. In reality, our need to go to extremes, like quitting our day jobs, masks a bigger insecurity or fear.

We fear that we will never make a move, so we create an extreme situation ("It's do or die!" "It's now or never!") to motivate us. [But] We actually may be delaying our actions for reasons other than procrastination. Do you need more time to develop your next startup idea? Perhaps staying at your day job for another few months and working on the startup in your spare time would be the best route. Or, perhaps, you know deep in your heart that you don't really want to do the startup in the first place.

Why we feel shame

We feel shame, and project our own shame on to other creatives, because we are afraid of looking like we aren't successful. It is why, even to Mark Cuban's confusion, we celebrate the startup that got a million-dollar loan over the scrappy bootstrapping one actually making a profit. It is why we champion glossy success over proven results.

It is why we support the rich-on-Instagram wannabe actress, who matches what we think Hollywood would be like, and shame the working-class actor, who is actually doing his profession regularly.

There is nothing sexy about a day job, except that it can help fund your big idea. Actually, that's pretty sexy. It's just that others may not think so.

What you can do about it

You have to ask yourself: Do I want to work on my craft or do I want to look good?

As a full-time independent, even I've had many late-stage discussions that almost became my day job. And while we eventually decided not to partner, I definitely respect the steady paycheck, the built-in health benefits, the retirement planning and, worth repeating, the steady paycheck.

In fact, a day job can actually afford you the ability to build your company the right way:

  • You aren't making decisions based on profit
  • You can take your time naturally finding the audience you want to serve
  • You can pivot into (or out of!) the new business whenever you like

My best-seller The Bite-Sized Entrepreneur is based on this argument, with my full-time thing being independent writing and my two startups being my side hustle. In it, I also describe how, going full-time independent much earlier in my career, had me working temp jobs to literally keep the lights on.

It's not just my argument, either. Chris Guillebeau, Chase Jarvis and countless other successful entrepreneurs all say the same thing: Don't quit your day job!

And if a broke "full-time" entrepreneur criticizes your decision, you can buy them a round - because you can afford to.

Published on: Sep 2, 2018