By Okechukwu Onwuka|
This is one question I get asked often. Of course, such questions are prescriptive questions which seek an answer of Yes or No. People who are somewhat unfulfilled in their regular jobs often look out for the opportunities or ways to enhance their expectations. While some pursue some form of enterprise on the side, others pursue full entrepreneurship.
Some entrepreneurs are born not out of frustration on their regular jobs but by one misfortune or another. My personal finding is that no one position is superior to another. Employees need employers and employers need employees. No one group can succeed without the other. And each position has position-specific challenges.
It is a common phrase that â€œpeople cannot get rich by being an employeeâ€. This statement pre-supposes that the primary issue of importance in life is riches. Or that employers and entrepreneurs are generally happier or more content than employees. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The reality is that while entrepreneurs may pay the employee wages, contentment and happiness remains an individual prerogative.
While an employee is worried about how to plan and manage his or her life around the regular remuneration, the employer has the added issue of ensuring sufficient revenues are generated to pay not just the salaries but the costs associated with sales, marketing, property, accounting, Government regulations etc. While an employee may be burdened by heavy loan portfolio, company executives have similar issues to worry about. The bottom line is that challenges exist everywhere.
The differentiating factor lies in the way an individual views life. My viewpoint is that the best way to be happy is to thoroughly enjoy what you do. I love every bit of what I do today. And it has always been so. As an employee, I constantly sought out ways to solve problems within and outside my business unit. The excitement of looking forward to the solution was enough to propel me through any difficult situation. During my exit interview, the Human Resources Manager sought to know the reason behind my decision to leave.
He asked if it was any of my bosses that affected my decision to leave. My reply was that nobody, not even my immediate supervisors had anything to do with my decision. I assured him that I would take the same decision, irrespective of the department I was assigned to. I told him that I had had a beautiful experience with the company and that it was time to do something else. And based on the companyâ€™s beautiful management system, every employee has the inherent ability to steward his career in his or her preferred interest area.
The system has guided me to realize that the next way for me to provide services for the company is as an external consultant if my skills are found adequate.
The difficult situation I had to deal with was that of the young engineer that was recently transferred to our unit. He was a first Class honours graduate and was understandably not happy to be deployed outside of a core engineering function.
He had been very depressed at the transfer and I had counseled him on the great values of the department and company. And he really brightened up after that. Less than two weeks later, he heard of my resignation.
He was shocked. He could not understand why it had to be me, after all my encouragement. When we met, I had to let him know that I meant every word I said concerning the organization and the career prospects. He had to understand that it was oneâ€™s responsibility to make the best of any opportunity to add value in the work place and that it was impossible to do that in an unhappy state.
I assured him that my decision was not at variance with the philosophy as I plan to maintain working relations with the company but under a different format. That is the situation till date. On the other hand, some of my ex-colleagues still think I took the wrong decision while some others think Iâ€™m better off as an entrepreneur coupled with my freedom.
Having seen both sides of the coin, I know that it is not an issue of being better off or worse off. In fact, I owe a lot of my experience and skills to the 18 years as an employee.
I find that it would have really been very difficult for me if I did not pass through the process, work under different bosses, Expatriates and Nigerians, learn the art of patience, perseverance, submitting to authority, and working under demanding schedules. Many think that being an entrepreneur means more free hours but that is not exactly true. My work schedule now is even much more demanding that what it was as an employee.
Instead of one boss, I now have a wide array of clients whose demands we have to meet. Rather than an internal appraisal process, I now have an unbounded external appraisal system to deal with complete with erratic schedule, cost, risk and resource constraints. Rather than dampen my enthusiasm, the challenges becomes a pivot for new breakthroughs, in much the same way as when I was an employee.
Those who think that entrepreneurship is a bed of roses, at least when compared to being a regular employee should have a re-think. Any attribute that has served you well as an employee will serve you even better as an entrepreneur.
So, if you are grossly unhappy in your current job, to experience a different result in business, you may have to strongly review your work ethic and strategies if you plan to venture into full enterprise. No situation is perfect or superior. The end result depends on personality, attitude, perception and value system.