Career Dilemma: Should I Stay in a Safe Job or Leave it to Start My Own Business?

Dear Karen:
Should I stay in my safe job with benefits or risk it all to open a business that might fail?

The best way to approach this dilemma is to determine what you truly want, and what you have to lose by giving up the other. Sure, you may have a so-called safe job with benefits, but what is the tradeoff? Are you happy, fulfilled? Will you regret your choice years down the line, and wish you had at least tried to start your own business? Plus - how safe is your job, really? There is always the potential to be downsized in a company that you work for - even for the smartest, most loyal employees. 

If you haven't done so already, do your homework. Thoroughly research the risks/pain points for the product or service you're interested in, survey the geographic areas of potential locations, potential customers, and generally try to gather as much data as possible to ensure you have a viable business plan before making any moves. Consult with others in the industry and network at events - soak up all the information you can, like a sponge. Ask yourself, what small step can I take today to get closer to my goal of owning my own business? Begin mapping out your goals and ideas, and assign realistic timelines to achieve them. 

Still not sure? Consider the possibility of starting your business and keeping your job - at least at first.

If you're worried about the risks, you may find it viable to begin your business on the side, while you remain gainfully employed, chock full of benefits. This may allow you the opportunity to properly gauge the likelihood of success, and mitigate your risk. 

However, consider that you will always have the opportunity to work for someone else; in the worst case scenario where your business does not succeed, you would simply use your abundance of skills, experience, and expertise to secure another full-time job with benefits. 

Safety nets can be great. Sometimes it's nice to know that when something goes wrong, something - or someone - will always be there to pick up the pieces and guide you back into your safe place. The problem with this is that like a flower without sunlight, you don't grow in your comfort zone.

The truth is that nothing in this world is guaranteed, but with hard work, determination, and passion, you have a great chance of doing/creating something truly amazing. I encourage you to ask yourself what you truly want, and what you really have to lose. Spread your wings, and push yourself out into the sunlight.

Good Luck!


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