Saying goodbye to a job or career that you do not like to start a new business


What are your top three reasons for not leaving a job or career path that you absolutely hate to start your own small business?

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asked Dec 20 '09 at 05:03
Tommy Jaye
231 points

12 Answers


Wow, such negative answers! You'd think that everyone who's gainfully employed is lazy and stupid. Hope you don't have to hire anyone like that at your startup!

How about:

  • Values time spent with family over time at the office
  • Steady paycheck and fixed hours frees you for hobbies you enjoy and enrich your life. (Most pursuits aren't profitable!)
  • The surest way to a safe and comfortable retirement is to earn steady money and save every month. Why roll the dice when it's a sure thing?

Speaking (unfairly perhaps) for some of the wonderful folks I've hired at my startups, here's more specific ones:

  • You love writing code. Not managing, not making ads, not having to fire people, not accounting, not sales. Just writing code in peace.
  • You don't like being the boss. You like being a core part of where things go, how things work, and making something happen, you just don't like having to make the final decision. You like debating but not judging. You want to discuss but then get back to work.
answered Dec 21 '09 at 02:32
16,231 points
  • Jason, you make some good points. Most of the people that talk to me about jumping ship hardly ever state your reasons. Mostly, it's fear. A good startup environment will allow all the things you mentioned and more. My philosophy is that you don't have to kill yourself by working long hours at a startup to make it successful. – Jarie Bolander 14 years ago


Top reason is probably its well-paid and you need the money/security...

answered Dec 20 '09 at 05:46
Mark Stephens
976 points


(I don't disagree with the answers given above, they are true for some people. What follows is another pattern that I feel is common.)

reasons for not leaving a job or career path that you absolutely hate

That hating your current job is absolutely not a viable business plan for a future startup! Running away from something bad does not necessarily imply running towards something nice...

I see that OP has a business, so the question is probably not about him. I think most people instinctively understand what I said above, and then rationalize it with "I don't have a unique product idea" or "I can't get funding".

answered Dec 21 '09 at 00:28
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • I can't agree more. Wish I could favourite a comment. "...hating your current job is absolutely not a viable business plan for a future startup". #awesome – Joseph Fung 14 years ago


I guess I would argue that those are not your only options. People don't leave a job they hate because they are risk averse, lazy, have other focuses, etc. Changing career paths is hard but starting your own small company is not the only option. Many people change careers without starting their own company by just going to work somewhere else in a different field.

In terms of getting a job in a different field vs starting your own business I would agree with Mark that money and security are the biggest reasons but some people don't have the contacts, ideas or time required to do so.

Starting your own business is not a job it's a life style and not everyone wants that life.

answered Dec 20 '09 at 11:34
1,866 points


The three that come to mind are:

  1. Money: When you are accustom to a certain lifestyle, it's hard to switch to lower pay (or no pay) to pursue a business.
  2. Security&Familiar: A nice corporate job feels safe but it's really not. You can get laid off no mater how good you are but most people like the 9 to 5 security and the bad corporate coffee. It feels comfortable and familiar.
  3. Risk Adverse: This is probably the biggest one. People that don't start their own gig typically don't take many risks. Starting a business is a huge risk, so it scares them.
answered Dec 20 '09 at 11:59
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points


  • Lack of resources/skill/confidence/perserverance to succeed in your own venture
  • Lack of a compelling idea for a business
  • Listening to other people's opinions about your probable success
  • Fear of failure
  • Most people just never make the big leap/change
  • Risk aversion
answered Dec 20 '09 at 15:45
Tim J
8,346 points
  • +1 for Fear of Failure. Lot's of risk adverse people are really afraid to fail. No risk, no failure. – Jarie Bolander 14 years ago


Money, mortgage and children.

That said I'd argue that in the long run, you'll have a better, richer life doing something you don't absolutely hate like so many of our fathers did, you'll make more money, and your children will like and respect you more.

answered Dec 21 '09 at 06:17
Bob Walsh
2,620 points


I like Jason's answer - though I disagree that salary implies sure thing. My experience has been more volatile with sure things than through independent contracting. Then again, I lack the qualities that make for a good and docile indentured servant employee.

The three things that kept me from leaping off while employed:

  • Saving 3 years of expenses
This was something I came up with after the first sure thing decided I lacked the enthusiasm of his other workers by refusing to work a minimum of 14 hours a day. I wanted a reasonable amount of cash that would cover expenses and give me the flexibility to take 6-8 months to work on something without worries.

I called it the F&$% Off Fund : for when you find reason to take a break from your employment situation. A side effect of its growing balance is that you become bolder and more brazen in your dealings with management, and you start to take less notice of the day to day grind and more notice of how the market might accept your own ideas.

  • Falling for the Game
I really wanted to get experience managing a software team before trying to do it on my own, so I figured being awesome would result in a quick promotion where I could learn those skills. Every time I interviewed at a company, it was a sure thing that the most dedicated and talented workers get promoted quickly, sometimes even in less than a year!

Being ambitious in a corporate environment, no matter what size company, is a fast way to be completely exploited and burned out. They're going to keep that carrot away from you as along as possible, to squeeze blood out of a stone.

It's like being the mark that's completely taken the bait in an elaborate scam: you think maybe this time they really mean it and really care about your career goals! "I'll give them one more shot," you say to yourself, and put yourself through another hour of traffic. "They just gave me that raise as a sign of good faith; the real promotion is just around the corner!" You then sit through another day where somebody expects you to blindly act as an instrument of their will.

The game ends when you stop caring about the carrot. You realize you have the experience (just don't do what all your managers did), the appeal of the career goals
lose their luster, and you find yourself feeling sorry for others stuck in the game. You might even feel guilt for leaving them behind.

  • Health Insurance
At least in the US, the cards are stacked against the independent worker in this department. This is largely why I saved 3 years of expenses: in case of catastrophe, break the piggy bank and hope it's enough.

This is all just pure fear. It still lingers in the back of my mind from time to time. I found purchasing a high-deductible plan and avoiding sky-diving, guns, and whitewater rafting to have a calming effect. The risk is still there, and less risk averse folk (or those under a constant stream of medication) may cling to their employment like an addict, just to keep health insurance.

answered Feb 15 '11 at 01:11
230 points


Not everybody is suited to starting businesses. It requires skills sets that not everybody possesses. Some people are risk averse and others are in financial positions that don't make it easy to make the leap (families, mortgages, etc.) And some people would make great entrepreneurs but aren't done learning their trade yet.

I covered the topic of whether you should work for someone else or start your own company on my blog in a post (linked above), "is it time for you to earn or to learn?"

answered Dec 23 '09 at 15:16
Mark Suster
545 points


I personally have 3 right now that are preventing me from leaving and starting up.

  1. Money. I am recently married and now have a wife who depends on me to bring home a paycheck. I can't expect her to eat ramen every day while I try and bootstrap a startup.
  2. Foreign employment. I am living in a country on a work permit. I leave my job, I lose my permit to stay in the country. I can still look for a new job, but the chances are not as high since my permit would have to be sponsored by the employer.
  3. Time. I always seem to be chasing after free time. I keep saying "after this event, ill have more time for my ideas." Unfortunately this free time keeps eluding me.
answered Dec 21 '09 at 13:53
277 points


My answer to this is pretty simple - lack of capital. One of the main reasons you are probably employed is the fact that you are not sitting on a pile of cash right now. Hence,
even if you have an idea, the inclination and the team, getting access to capital [ or the process of knowing how to go about it] might daunt most people from starting up. For me, right now, that would be the main reason.

Great topic, one that I am debating with myself right now about.

answered Dec 21 '09 at 17:51
11 points


If you truly have a job that you "absolutely hate", then you should submit your resignation today! Chances are pretty high that someone else is dreaming about getting your job.

Regardless of starting a business or not, why torture yourself by spending the majority of your time and energy in something that you hate? By some series of choices, you got yourself into the job/career path that you now hate. It might mean taking a few steps back, but please start today on a path that you will be more passionate about!

If you can find someone to pay you for something that you love to do, that's great. You'll be happier doing what you love to do even if you're not being paid for it.

I think people who conclude that they must do a job that they hate in order to make a living are selling themselves short and have given up way too soon.

Edit after OP's comment: I don't have any reasons for not starting a business! I also can't think of any reasons to stay at a job you hate. So if I was working a job that I absolutely hated, then I would quit today and start working full time on my business. Trying to come up with reasons why someone might not make that decision would be conjecture at best.

If you'd asked for reasons why I'm not leaving a job that pays well and I enjoy in order to start a business, then I could have given a few.

I don't think starting a business requires that you leave your job.

Of course, if you think that you must leave your job before starting your business, then you probably won't do either. I like my job, but I'm still starting my business and I'll leave the job when I can't afford to stay there any longer. I'll let you know how it works out...

answered Dec 22 '09 at 04:23
Coder Dennis
691 points
  • Ok, let's clean it up a little; All things being equal, what would be your top three reasons for not starting a business (keep the response simple)? – Tommy Jaye 14 years ago
  • Thank you & good luck! – Tommy Jaye 14 years ago

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