Corporate Job vs Entrepreneurship


When I graduated from college, I had a relatively easy decision regarding whether I should take up the job offers I had, or carry on with my business. My business was up and running, and profitable, and, having experienced work in the investment banking department of a large bank, my choice was pretty much made and fairly clear without too much thought and deliberation. My family was supportive of this idea which was another key factor in making the transition a smooth one. However, maybe my case is an anomaly which most college graduates do not experience. Usually at graduation time there is no set business to do, and even if there is, it is very much in the conceptual stage and untested. There is hence much family pressure to take a job and acquire :

1. Discipline to work in a 9 – 5 job.

2. Get experience before you eventually make the transition to running your own business.

3. Bring stability to your life & pay off any debts you may have incurred at college.

All valid points, and in most cases, often the right choice for people to get a job rather than start up their own business. However, my take on the matter is that this decision is purely dependent on the characteristics and personality of the person. To argue the first point, it is all a matter of a self discipline. If you are someone with the ability to get your schedule right, and work a pre-set number of hours or more everyday, then the first point in the argument does not hold true given the crazy schedules that most graduates have in college. However, this is a quality which definitely needs to be developed.

The second point of getting experience to run your own business is bogus in my opinion. I believe the experience someone gets running their own business is far greater than anything you learn at a desk job. You may develop some functional expertise eventually in a specific area at a job, however, that will not be enough to start your own business. This essentially limits your horizon to a specific area, and more often than not, strategies taken by larger companies are not translatable in the startup world. Lastly, when do you achieve enough experience? I know a lot of people who said they would quit their jobs after a couple of years, but that seldom happens! Once you get into the corporate routine with a stable pay check, you take on responsibilities such as mortgages, leases and eventually get married. Each one of these factors work against your ever taking the plunge into the startup world.

The last point regarding stability and getting rid of your debts has some degree of truth to it. I agree with the getting rid of debt aspect of the argument, I don’t however agree with the stability aspect as much. When you are 23 do you really need stability in your life? This is the time in your life when you can take the greatest amount of leveraged risks as you do not have major responsibilities. The stability concept is definitely appealing to parents who are able to sleep a lot easier at night knowing that their son/daughter is working at a reputable firm, which will eventually enable them to live the ideal cookie cutter life.

My thoughts in this post are definitely biased, it is true. However, they are biased towards those individuals who actually want to take risks to do something remarkable with their lives. There is a need inside of these individuals to create value and wealth themselves. Entrepreneurship is definitely not for everyone. It is a roller coaster ride which has the ability to turn your life upside down. It confuses people, specially parents and the people in your life , until you experience some degree of success in what you are doing. This is a route meant for those individuals who have the ability to risk everything they have in return for a chance to achieve greatness. If you are a recent graduate, and think that entrepreneurship may be the path for you, you need to fight for it like everything else in life. Overcoming the odds is what sets entrepreneurs apart, and the sooner you get a head-start, the better!

33 Comments Corporate Job vs Entrepreneurship

  1. veer

    Good article. I just took the plunge from a 3 year old good paying job towards the startup world. Got some good motivation on reading your article.


  2. Usman Sheikh

    Thank you for the compliments veer.

    Have you selected an area where you plan on developing your startup? Please get in touch if you need any sort of assistance or advice.

    Wishing you the best of luck & success with your future ventures.

  3. Sheriff Mohammed


    I started out as an entrepreneur on 2009. I freelanced and got enough money to help my family on a monthly basis. But now I want to focus on my product – I am “stuck” at a technical issue and 20 days have gone past – I have to pay my bills since I am living in a rented house. I have multiple risks now.

    => I do not know when I will be able to solve this technical issue.
    => I have cut-down on all expenditure except for the bare-minimum, food, water and clothes.
    => I have self-doubts: Will I be able to finish this issue on time and show to a funder? Where should I go to find a local funder in Chennai/India? I keep getting thoughts to get back to a job – but I want to pursue to find solutions rather than get back to a safe job.
    => Should I take the risk of living my financial stability at par and focus on completing my task?
    => Does getting funded assure product success? Is this something I should not worry about now?

    I seem to have answers outside and within me but I’d really like some advice from someone who has experienced similar things in their early stages of a startup!


  4. Usman Sheikh

    Hi Sheriff,

    Every entrepreneur has self doubts about whether their product is going to make it or not. That is something perfectly normal and even healthy to a certain extent. Finding a funder for your product may not solve your problems. Getting someone to invest at an early stage is usually very challenging and it is probably best to see if you could use your skills to find some alternative income while your product gets some traction.

    Seems like you are in a situation that is common to many bootstrapping entrepreneurs. Email me at blog (at) and I will see If I could be of any assistance in your current situation.


  5. Anubhav


    Very inspiring, reassuring and bang on target.

    Exact 3 reasons my parents keep giving me to stop pursuing entrepreneurship and get a stable job.

    Thanks for posting.

  6. Jose Paul

    Once you get into the corporate routine with a stable pay check, you take on responsibilities such as mortgages, leases and eventually get married. Each one of these factors work against your ever taking the plunge into the startup world.

    That was so spot on that I actually smiled in realistic humor.

  7. Usman Sheikh

    Its a tough pill to swallow.

    I was told really early on that take as many risks as you want when you are young, as the opportunity costs keep on increasing as you grow older.

    Hope that things work out for the best which ever path you choose.

  8. niks

    I am actually going through same situation. I am currently holding a very good job in one of the big finance firm. I am also working on my startup with few friends on saturdays and sundays since from last 2 years.

  9. Usman Sheikh

    Always a tough situation.

    Many of my friends are in the similar circumstances and the advice I always give them is to choose between one or the other. In this situation both the finance firm and the start up are not being able to leverage your skill sets completely. This is due to the split focus which has a substantial impact on your productivity.

    Take stock of where you are, what you want to achieve and whether you are happy doing what you do 5 days a week. Once you decide on a path give it your whole with the conviction that you are going to be the best at what you do everyday.

  10. Sardar Mohkim Khan

    Nice read as always, agree with your point on debts and the pressure to get a stable paycheck – i guess the region we belong to inculcates this mentality, we are a risk averse nation [in majority] and this is exactly what we reap.

    Even corporates lack this -

  11. Usman Sheikh

    Thanks Mohkim. I agree that Asia as a whole still attaches a strong stigma to any sort of failure. However I do see that changing at a very fast pace though. In the end we reap what we sow as individuals. By empowering just one other person and providing him/her with guidance and information to make a more informed decision can have a massive impact on society as a whole.

    We have to take responsibilities for our own actions as our life is a direct reflection of the actions we take on a daily basis.

  12. Mikayla F.

    Hi, I am a student in an Entrepreneurship class and I would like to use the picture above, “Anatomy of an Entrepreneur”, for one of my assignments. I would appreciate it if you could get back to me to let me know that this would be okay with you.

    Thankyou, Mikayla

  13. Jeff

    As I began to read this, I immediately saw how directly it correlated with my own life. I have been struggling with this decision exactly how it is written in this article. It’s become a recurring thought. My real problem, though, is finding a really great idea. I have run 3 businesses in the past, but I am still stuck without a really good business idea and i’ll be graduating in May. I also have the debt problem, and to the tune of about 400/month for the next 10 years!

    In trouble, and losing time fast!

  14. Usman Sheikh

    Finding that really great idea is one of the most challenging things that an entrepreneur has to do. In my opinion it all begins with identifying something that you have a real passion with an overlap of your strongest skill sets. An article where I have written about this in great detail is

    If by May you haven’t found something that you really want to do then I would explore different career paths and options to actually discover yourself in greater detail. Through the process of elimination of knowing what you do not want to do makes decisions a whole lot easier.

    On a closing note you are at a point in your life where taking the maximum amount of risk comes at a very low opportunity cost. I will be more than happy to talk to you in greater detail and perhaps you could even bounce some ideas that you may have with me. If that is something that interests you then please do get in touch.

    Best of luck!

  15. Ms Leah

    This is a great article, I am also struggling with implementing my business idea, I want to start off asap but I get fears of possible failure, even though I believe that what I want to do is needed. What are your views on renting property to execute a business?

  16. Usman Sheikh

    You are off to a great start. Thinking about what you want to execute and planning for it is a start. The next step is definitely the most challenging. I would recommend making small steps towards what you are wanting to do.

    The concept that you are talking about is somewhat like a co-working space correct? You may want to check out The margins of operating such a property are not very high unless you own the space you are renting out. Doing some numbers early on will give you a better idea of what to expect. I have done some research in this area, if you want to have a chat about it we could. Alternatively drop me an email with your questions and I will do my best to get back to you.

    Best of luck!

  17. Narayan

    Very well written. Comforting for people like us who moved out of the comfortable sea shore to take the trade winds.

    Thanks Man!

  18. Sohal Khatwani

    It is one of the hardest decisions of life. However, I believe to achieve greatness you have to risk a great deal. Without risk, there will be no great return.

    Yet, the comfort of knowing that you get paid at the end of the month is so hard to let go. This is especially true when you come from a family where there is no business and not much money.

    So confused!!

  19. Usman Sheikh

    I agree that it is a tough predicament which usually leaves most people in the paralysis of analysis stage.

    The best way how to make progress is to:

    1. Launch a minimum viable and test to see whether the business you want to start actually has the legs to stand on.

    2. Join a startup team that has agreed to cover your basic costs expenses and learn the ropes to see whether you have what it takes.

    The key takeaway is to take action and move forward. If you do not, it just leaves you in a state of limbo.

    Hope that helps.

    Best of Luck!


  20. Badarudheen

    Its a great post. It’s informative and also has strengthened my motivation to go for entrepreneurship. I’ve always dreamed to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to do something that gave value and purpose to my life. Recently I’ve been in a dilemma whether to go for a job offered in my campus placement (going to graduate soon – B.Tech) in one of the leaders of the software companies or to throw away everything to pursue my dream. I’ve also got a positive reply from an entrepreneur and a potential partner in starting the business. Your post was very inspirational and instrumental in clearing some of my apprehensions. Thank You.

  21. Usman Sheikh

    Glad the post was helpful Badarudheen. In my opinion this is a very good time to get into doing something for yourself. It is important to remember however that before you get into starting your own venture that the correct amount of due diligence is done. If you haven’t watched this video already, I would highly recommend you to do so. If you need any further assistance or want feedback on what you are working on, feel free to email. Best of luck and success!

  22. Janson Chen

    Great post, great discussion topic.

    Let me share my story with you guys. I hold a PhD and I studied Business in Harvard.

    Where I am from (far east), we believe in Fortune Telling and Feng Shui. Many international companies, such as Coca-cola etc. etc., actually consult these feng shui gurus. They have actually proven that companies “changing” feng shui actually result in remarkable growth. This is now widely accepted in Chinese countries. It’s not something science can explain.

    After receiving my PhD, I had many job offers. But my true passion lies in entrepreneurship. One of the fengshui grandmaster said that my life is “designed” to work for people. I make an excellent employee and bosses will recognise my efforts easily. However, if I choose the self-employed route, I will find a lot of hardship/problems/anger and results are slow. This instantly killed my spirit. Family and friends stopped supporting me. I was almost at the crash & burn state of mind.

    I chose what my guts told me too. I rejected many offers, including the prestigious Mckinsey&co – not many people can do that. I went against my family. I went against my own destiny. It wasn’t easy a single bit- I experienced countless breakdowns, countless arguments with investors and too many problems. I took maximum loan. Banks were chasing at my doorstep. I had to shutdown my first company and rebuild it again. At every point of failure, my family and friends will say “I told you so! Why didn’t you take the easy way out?”

    This year, my beverage manufacturing company just experienced a $15M annual turnover. My 2 cents worth of advice is – your DECISION and MINDSET change your fate. Feng Shui and your destiny is like the Balance Sheet. It is only valid at that point of time. Tomorrow’s balance sheet may change dramatically. Don’t give up, be realistic at the same time. You will be successful – I guarantee that.

    I’m 27 years old. I believe in myself.

  23. Usman Sheikh

    Awesome story Janson. Goes to show where there is a will there is a way.

    It is relatively easy to tell people to take the obvious route forward. Those of us who are charting our own courses are often met with resistance and a considerable amount of hardships. In the end it comes down the perseverance and like you mentioned believe in your own abilities to make your dreams a reality.

    Wishing you all the very best for the future.

  24. Ashish Grover

    Interesting picture and good read. I am of the opinion that certain amount of experience helps a person becomes disciplined and mentally mature.

  25. Usman Sheikh

    Thanks for dropping by Ashish. I agree that over time you do grow with experience and have the ability to make better decisions. However it has to start from somewhere and a lot of the times it is the mistakes that one makes, which turn out to be the biggest lessons overall.

    Best of luck with your new startup. Let me know if I can assist in anyway.

  26. Ronak Surana

    Thanks for the share Usman Sheikh. It has certainly helped me in decision making and say YES to entrepreneurship at a time when the entire loved one’s are not very happy with this decision of mine. With a lot of fear build around but still the voice within say’s YES I CAN DO IT !!

    When you start facing the fear it will start shrinking if avoided it keeps growing. Thanks a lot !!

  27. Zubair

    Hi Usman,
    Out of Frustration of 11 years i started searching the comparison of entrepreneurship and job,and i found you on the google.Nice to hear from you.I have a stable income working as Freelancer with one full time employee as IT infrastructure and Management Consultant.But i believe I am earning around 35 percent less compared to job and hence i think i am compromising additional facilities like End of service benefit,Annual payed vacation,Medical insurance etc.I sometimes believe is the dream iam following to establish business compromising the facilities i can provide to my family.I have a vision of establishing some business between saudi arabia and india ,iam presently in saudi arabia.
    Should i continue with the present setup or join job and do the business as part time .I heard its not possible to continue job and business it has reference in your articles answers also.One thing is clear i dont want to lose the track of business .
    Please give me some guidence

  28. Anil Singh

    That was really good specially when i am fighting with my father over job vs Entrepreneurship issue. I have quit my job and now have started a coaching institute. I am 100% confident that i will do it, sure that post is a catalyst.

    Anil Singh

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