The Problem of Falling in Love with a Company
Entrepreneur is Safer than Employee
Stability is a good thing. No one will argue with that. It feels great to know that your bills are paid, your kids are fed, your rent or mortgage is handled for the month, and that the everyday minutiae of your life is manageable by virtue of that oh-so-comforting thing that arrives twice a month—your beloved paycheck. You count on that check not only for the things you need, but also for those that you want, like the weekly massage you’ve grown accustomed to, or that ski vacation you take with your family every spring. That’s all fine and good, unless you are truly serious about becoming self-made. Self-made means you understand that status of entrepreneur is safer than employee.
By definition, self-made means you rely not on the paycheck paid to you by a company, but on your actual self. It means that your whole life won’t come crumbling to pieces if that check, for whatever reason, doesn’t show up. It means you are not at the mercy of anything other than your own talents, passion, interests and skills.
Which is precisely why you should never fall in love with a company. Even if that company offers yoga classes at lunch and at-your-desk reflexology; even if that company lets you show up in your flip flops; even if you think that company is going to be the next big thing. When you fall in love with a company to the point that you give all of yourself over to it indefinitely, you essentially chisel away at your chance to one day become completely self-made.
The Corporation Conundrum
A lot of you likely hold positions in corporate America, you’ve probably worked hard to get there, so congrats! In fact, while you do work in such a position, the best thing you can do is, what SELF MADE’s author, Nely Galán, calls “think like an owner.” Use your time there to hone your experience as a doer and a leader, knowing that, in time, you will find a way to apply those skills.
But no matter how cushy it may seem, you want to avoid falling in love with a large corporation, because at the end of the day, no matter how much your praised, or how much of a raise you get, or how much you love your colleagues, or how well you gel, or pretty the view is from your corner office—the reality is (and we apologize for the bluntness here) you will always be replaceable. Ultimately, jobs are like revolving doors: people come in and out of them all the time.
There are a million different reasons why these types of companies start thinking about hiring new blood, and no matter how hard you work, when you’re an employee, you never know when your particular position might be rendered obsolete. Companies get restructured, new executives march into the building, and the fact is, you will have very little control about things when push comes to shove.
The other problem with massive corporations is that when you spend years or decades of your life there, you may start to lose your sense of authentic identity. Where do YOU begin and your duties to them end?
The New Glamour of Tech
For better or worse, tech companies are sprouting like weeds these days, which on the one hand, creates a landscape of endless and diverse professional opportunities that can seem very seductive. The idea of getting on board with something new and the promise of a glorious exit strategy is enough to convince many that going to work for a startup is a great idea. And we’re not saying it isn’t. We are saying that you shouldn’t bank on that company to be your “Prince Charming.” Unless, of course, that company is yours, in which case what you’re banking on yourself, which is what being self-made is all about.
Your Time for Them is Less Time for You
It comes down to this: life is short. So the more years you give to that company that you love—be it a corporation, a startup or anything in between—the less time you have to give to your own pursuits. They say time is money, but it’s more than that; it’s the one thing we have in which we can take actionable steps. So you have to map “the time” of your life wisely, so that you don’t look back twenty years from now with a heart full of regret.
Don’t misunderstand us: we’re not saying quit your job, leave your boss high and dry and be totally selfish. On the contrary. See whatever position you hold as a tremendous opportunity to learn things, to train yourself, to prepare yourself for whatever happens to loom on the horizon of your own self-made plans.
Also, if you do decide to stay with a corporation, make sure you are making the most of the various benefits that corporation offers, such as: your retirement fund, health insurance, stock options you may be buying; and even more importantly, that you diversify outside of that job with other investments.