There are countless articles, Instagram posts, tweets and videos that say: Quit your job to travel the world or start your own company. Sure, it may sound like a great idea on the Internet, but in real-life, it often turns out to be terrible advice. These fantasies rarely live up to reality, but it is easy to understand why some think it is a wise decision.
Before you leave your main gig, you need to be aware of these three myths about entrepreneurship and these two characteristics of companies with happy employees.
1.Entrepreneurs are stereotyped as risk takers.
There is a common misconception about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. They are supposed to be risk-takers who ditch corporate gigs to pursue their dreams and quickly make loads of money. This may make for a fantastic story, but it almost never happens that way. A rare few can lose their main source of income and build a profitable company. In fact, most entrepreneurs are risk-averse. Warby Parker founders stayed at their main gigs while building the company and didn't leave until they were bringing in substantial revenue.
2. Entrepreneurship isn't easy or glamorous. It's painful.
Building a company is a lot more painful than anybody cares to admit. Entrepreneurs work hard, lose sleep, and are on a constant emotional rollercoaster. In one moment they are screaming from rooftops about a deal they just landed. In the next, they are crying into their pillow and worrying about going bankrupt, getting more customers or paying their employees.
3. You don't need to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial.
The lifestyle may be idealized, but it isn't for everyone. It is important to recognize that just because a person doesn't start their own company, it doesn't mean that they can't be entrepreneurial or have a job that is equally or more fulfilling.
Instead of falling for the idealized version of entrepreneurship and quitting, look for two characteristics: great company culture and engagement.
Company culture and the relationship with employees.
Famed psychologist Barry Schwartz researched what causes people to engage, find value and be committed to a workplace. He found that companies with engaged employees possess these characteristics:
- The work has a greater meaning.
- Employees have some autonomy.
- There are opportunities for personal growth and development.
- For the most part, projects are engaging to employees. Dull tasks are automated or shared by the team.
- The environment fosters teamwork and support.
When considering quitting a job, look for these qualities. If they don't exist ask: could you foster an environment where they are more present or should you find a new job?
Engagement with the work.
Why do some people love their work and are incredibly good at what they do? They're highly engaged with it to the point that they enter what psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls "flow." It's a state of peak human performance where individuals find intrinsic value from their work and are so engaged they don't know where they stop and the work begins. To experience flow, the work needs these three characteristics:
- It has to be something a person has experience in
- It's unfamiliar enough that it is interesting
- It's not so hard that it can't be accomplished
The key is to find a job that is not monotonous, one that promotes continuous learning. Travel and entrepreneurship are great paths to explore, but people don't have to quit their jobs to pursue them. Instead, run a side hustle, and once you get traction, experience, customers and a functional brand, then it may make sense to leave a corporate gig and focus on growing a company. Until that point, there is nothing wrong with learning and growing in a company, especially if that is what suits you best.