Like many Millennials, I love the idea of entrepreneurship. Striking it out on your own, operating independently and having unlimited upside with nobody to answer to could arguably be the new American dream. Business ownership is a very noble and wise goal, and is also a major key to wealth creation in a capitalistic society.
By way of a network marketing invitation disguised as a mentorship (a story for another day), I recently read a book by Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad) where he explained that the types of cash flow one receives can be divided into four quadrants:
Mr. Kiyosaki makes a lot of sense to me here. The quadrants on the left represent active cash flow, i.e. trading your time for money, and the ones on the right represent passive cash flow, i.e. money that comes to you regardless. You can get rich by achieving success on the active side, but wealth is only really built via activities in the right quadrants.
Most people spend most of their lives on the left side, making money in a linear fashion by trading their hours in for dollars. If you’re in the “E” quadrant, then you’re working for someone else, and if you’re in the “S” quadrant you’re working for yourself. In both cases, the amount of money you bring in is pretty much directly proportional to the amount of time you put in.
Naturally, the quadrants on the right are where you want to be, but there are high barriers of entry: namely, capital. For the “I” quadrant, it’s capital in the form of money — and a lot of it if we’re talking about actually producing income. And for the “B” quadrant, the most coveted of them all, it is capital in the form of time, money, people, influence, information, and intellectual property to name a few.
Entrepreneurship can loosely be defined as living in any quadrant except “E”, but is more technically defined as: a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.
The negative stigma around the 9 to 5.
I believe we collectively undervalue the learning / development opportunity that being an employee can provide
I know many people — myself included — desire to be in the position of entrepreneur, and for good reason. We want to be able to do work we’re actually passionate about, make a difference in the world, and not have to answer to anyone but ourselves. We’re not really fucking with this “E” quadrant shit.
Maybe you choose to head down to the “S” quadrant, but even then you still have a boss: your clients. If you’re in the amazing and rare position to move to the “B” quadrant by way of a startup (i.e. you’ve successfully raised capital or had enough to put up yourself and still live with no income), you still have to answer to your investors and board members. And you can only play in the “I” quadrant if you’ve got a bag already secured.
Note: I hate all things binary, so understand that one can and definitely should dabble in different quadrants.
With all of this in mind, I’m not sure quitting our day jobs (or avoiding getting one to begin with) is always the best answer to the dilemma of not waking up every day passionate about being in the “E” quadrant. I believe we collectively undervalue the learning / development opportunity that being an employee can provide.
I totally agree that if you are unhappy with your job and it causes you unnecessary stress that you should leave and do something else. But if you are working in an industry you actually have some interest in, which allows you opportunities to experience things you wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to (not to mention getting paid comfortably) — it’s probably not a bad idea to stick around for now and be patient.
Business mogul Daymond John would tell you that having some income is worth putting in the time, as he was waiting tables at Red Lobster while working to get FUBU off the ground. Imagine if the job he was working was actually relevant in some way to fashion retail! Maybe FUBU would still be here today… RIP FUBU *pours some out*
You can definitely do both.
There’s no better time than our twenties, while we are devoid of imminent adult responsibilities, to work both a 9 to 5 and a 5 to 9. I’ll admit, doing both is hard; but you’ve got to have a vision in order to break into the passive side. How you spend the free time you have after any given work day should be seen as a budget for allocating time as the valuable currency that it is. It’s certainly worth investing at least some of this time in a more financially free future.
It’s when we’re older that time will be all the more valuable and hours for dollars will no longer be such an easy trade. Of course I see the value in going all-in early (major salute to all those who have already made the jump!), and fighting thru the struggles head on, but realize that successfully breaking into the passive cash flow quadrants will require:
Capital — *secure the bag alert*, but also all that other stuff described above too…
Contacts — who not only know you but trust you
Discipline — knowing how to actually work and be productive
Experience — embracing the opportunity to fail on someone else’s dime
What you’re good at and can be paid for won’t always be what you’re passionate about, and vice versa — but as energy is put into both over time, and you find like-minded individuals to cultivate life with, the Universe has its way of creating serendipitous outcomes. Know yourself, put in the work, have patience, and trust the process.
You’re doing great.
“Nine-to-five is how you survive, I ain’t tryna survive I’m tryna live it to the limit and love it a lot.”