8 Signs the 9-to-5 IS Right for You


There's so much buzz about escaping the 9-to-5 and becoming your own boss, or working from home. But… this isn't for everyone, and you may actually be cut out for the 9-to-5 grind.

I had the experience of going back to a 9-to-5 job after running my own business for five years. After returning to my cubicle, I realized that there are some significant benefits to working for someone else at a regular job instead of starting your own business.

Here are signs that you might be happier and more successful staying with the classic workday grind.

1. You Need Your Next Paycheck

Unlike a 9-to-5 job, owning a business often means variable income. Some months you might make a lot of money, and others not so much. Those first few months after you start a business are often months when you are not likely to make much income as you are establishing customers. Could you afford to go a few months without any income? If not, you might be better off staying with your 9-to-5 job.

2. You're Making More Money

If you are getting paid more at your current job, working for your current employer, than you think you could make on your own, then you might be better off staying at the office.

For one thing, some companies offer regular raises. After a few years of good performance reviews, you could find yourself with a salary that would be hard to replicate doing the same work as an independent contractor and competing with other hungry independent contractors.

Another reason you could be paid more at a 9-to-5 job is leverage of resources. At work, you might be a small cog in a big machine, but the big machine is making a lot of money. If you strike out on your own — no longer surrounded by all of the resources of a big company — you may provide less value to your customers and get paid less as a result.

3. Your Hours Really Are 9-to-5

A lot people would be thrilled to work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then go home. Many positions demand working much more than 40 hours per week, plus working evenings, weekends, and sometimes holidays. If you have a regular job that gives you a full-time paycheck for working 40 hours per week or less, think twice before giving that up.

If your current job leaves you with some spare time, consider keeping your 9-to-5 job and adding a side hustle to bring in some extra money.

4. You Are a Specialist

When I started my business, there was a time when I was the only one working there. It was exciting to be the boss and work on technical projects, but someone needed to vacuum the floors, pay the utility bills, answer the phone, etc. Since I was the only employee, that person was me!

Working at an office with lots of other people around allows employees to specialize. A "real" business might have custodians that take care of vacuuming, financial analysts that take care of paying bills, and administrative assistants that take care of answering phones.

The job descriptions at a 9-to-5 job are typically a lot more specialized than if you work for yourself. If you have special skills and provide value by performing specialized work, you might end up doing a lot less of that specialized work and a lot more general tasks if you leave your regular job.

5. You Like to Finish Things

People have different working styles and different comfort levels with chaos and changes in direction. I know some people who work really well on a defined task and can drive away at it steadily until it is completed. At a typical 9-to-5 type job, if other demands or tasks pop up, the management will help sort out priorities. Additional staff can be pulled in to deal with new work. Most employees have a few top priorities and focus on getting those things done on time.

Working on your own, there is no one available to help juggle the chaos of real life. If additional tasks pop up, you may need to let some balls fall to the ground in order to catch more important ones. You can often end up stopping in the middle of some tasks to take on more urgent work. If letting things go unfinished would frustrate you, then you might be more satisfied in the more stable environment of a regular job.

6. You Are Afraid of Financial Risks

Financial risk is the main reason I left my own business to go back to a 9-to-5 job. While running my own business, I would sometimes use personal credit cards to make payroll. As the business grew, I applied for small business loans to keep the business operating until we got the next big contract. It was my name signed on the two-year facility lease. Income was good at times, but not predictable. At any time, the income could stop coming in and the payroll and facility expenses would still need to be paid.

I decided that I liked where I lived, and with kids getting to school age, I wanted a more stable source of income and to take on less financial risk. Fortunately, I was able to transition to a great career in a 9-to-5 position.

Being your own boss has greater income potential than working for someone else, but this potential comes at the cost of greater risk. If you are already stressed out about your finances, taking on additional risk by leaving a steady income behind may not be a good move for you.

7. You Crave Balance

One reason people think about leaving their day job is to get a more flexible work schedule. It is true that working on your own can result in a more flexibility, but this schedule may include working a lot more hours! If your goal from striking out on your own is to be able to spend more time with your family, you may be disappointed.

Many 9-to-5 jobs will allow some schedule flexibility if you work with management. If you can still get your job done, you may be able to arrange working hours that are a bit different than standard office hours or even do some of your work from home.

Before leaving your regular job to get some schedule flexibility, see if your current employer can support this request. You might be able to get better work-life balance without the need to take on the challenges of starting your own business.

8. You Have Friends In the Next Cubicle

For many people, work is an important part of their social structure. You become friends with people at work since you spend time with them and get to know them. Your position at work facilitates meeting new people and quickly establishing relationships.

If you leave your regular job, these friendships and connections will fade. Working at home on your own makes it harder to meet new people and keep up with old friends. If you leave your 9-to-5 job, you might be leaving more than just your old cubicle behind.

Do you think working 9-to-5 or owning your own business is a better fit for you? Share with us in the comments!

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