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!
Speaking (unfairly perhaps) for some of the wonderful folks I've hired at my startups, here's more specific ones:
Top reason is probably its well-paid and you need the money/security...
(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 hateThat 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".
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.
The three that come to mind are:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?"
I personally have 3 right now that are preventing me from leaving and starting up.
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.
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...