Anyone who has ever tried climbing the corporate ladder and challenged their luck in becoming an entrepreneur will know the answer. Both are stressful in a totally different way!
While both bring some perks that you can't get from the other, there are some setbacks about choosing one over the other. Climbing the corporate ladder gives you some kind of stability. Becoming an entrepreneur will give you a chance to make your dream come true. But really, which one is more stressful?
Now, you know I'm not the kind of person who will strongly recommend you to quit your job and travel to start whatever business is… But I've been in both situations. Stressing over a corporate job, and dying to figure out how to make things work for my business.
So in this post, I will talk about it… The stress you may get from both sides!
Climbing the Corporate Ladder vs Becoming an Entrepreneur
In 2017, I was frustrated by how much I hated my corporate job. At the time, I got the stability to secure my monthly salary that was considered high in my country. I got a chance to travel for work too since I worked with an international team overseas. On paper, the job looked legit but looking back, I never felt as broken as I was then mentally.
At the time, I quit my job to sort things out with my life because I suppose I knew that I couldn't function properly if I didn't give myself a break for a while.
Well, I initially tried out a plan to start my business with my Malaysian-based coworkers from work. They're a couple of Japanese and French nationals, and at first we were interested in trying out a dropshipping business. I barely got anything left since I was quite bad with money at the time, but at least I got my back-up, thanks to daddy, who loves me unconditionally.
But it's not easy. I eventually lost my passion for the business plan that I already created. My friends bailed on me, as they were planning to relocate to the US, and they seem to have some other things going on so I was forced to have my back-up plan.
This blog is my back-up plan. And I'm lucky that it began my entrepreneurship journey ever since.
What's Stressful About Climbing the Corporate Ladder?
Now that I've been on both sides, I'm confident to say that becoming an entrepreneur works better for me. However, I wouldn't dare to say that being one is the best for everyone. You wish it was, but it's not.
There are many benefits you can get from working a corporate job. First of all, you sure get all the stability since, for what it's worth, at least you know you'll get paid periodically. It's just your responsibility to budget your income wisely.
Sure you're often underpaid, but at least you can tell how you can improve the quality of your life if you decide to try a new challenge. And if you have to take an extra job to cover the gap, theoretically, it would be easier for you to manage your time. Practically, God knows how chaotic it could be. LOL.
So now you know there are some perks of building your career through corporate jobs… What are the most stressful things about working on one?
1. You build someone else's dreams.
Remember the backlash when Jeff Bezos thanked Amazon workers for paying for his space trip recently? Imagine you work your ass off, getting paid next to minimum wage, you live paycheck to paycheck to see your boss having an experience of peeing in the zero-gravity…
Well, it's pretty much what sums up working a corporate job. You work your ass off, but it's not always what you want or what you're passionate about… Even worse, you don't always get paid what you deserve too sometimes!
You see, you know you're old enough to understand that you don't always get everything you want in life. But is your sacrifice worth it?
For me personally, I'm an accomplished overthinker. I remember when I just graduated from the university, I was super picky about the job opportunities that I applied for because Indonesian companies tend to have the most ridiculous policy that I don't think is worth the sacrifice.
A state-owned enterprise would bind the employee to a 5-year contract with some policies that come across as a violation of human rights, seen from the woke's perspective.
For example, they withhold your diplomacy during the contract. You cannot get married with anyone who works for the same company, some even forbid you to get married at all. And if you want to end the contract, you have to pay around IDR 100,000,000 (around $6,900 USD) for a job that pays you around $270 USD monthly.
At the time, I knew it wasn't right so I didn't bother applying for those companies with such ridiculous contracts. Fast forward to today, we know I didn't have to worry about it since I'm still single as fuck, but did I regret my decision? Not at all.
All of these to build someone's dreams whose vision is not aligned with mine? I'm just glad that I made the right decision for me.
But guess what? Some of my friends' dreams is to have stability since starting a family is their dream, so climbing the corporate ladder seems like an excellent choice for their lives because sacrificing for their beloved ones is their priority, and I respect that.
2. It's hard to create a work-and-life balance and set boundaries for your professional life.
This is probably something that I struggled with the most when I worked my corporate job. I commuted every day, and it could take around 2 hours to get to the office from my apartment and vice versa.
I had to wake up around 6 AM to get ready, and the most ideal time to arrive at the train station would be around 7 AM so I could arrive at 9 AM sharp. Earlier was better, as I usually spent my time having a cup of coffee as soon as I reached the office.
I usually finished at 5 PM, and I'm the kind of employee who would come home early just because I wanted to. And also because I didn't see any point why I had to stay late for work. Some colleagues of mine decided to stay late simply to avoid the peak hours for the traffic, and it was understandable.
For me, I'd rather get off early and deal with the crazy commuting because, before the pandemic, the commuting scene in Jakarta was totally crazy and chaotic. It was very rare to get even a proper seat on the bus or on the train.
I sometimes even took a longer route just so I could take the bus to their last stop at Jakarta Kota and get on the train as the train was relatively empty from there.
It was more convenient as I could at least sit properly to my destination, but the decision came with a price since I could arrive at around 8 or 9 at night. I spent at least 5 hours alone to commute, and I basically had no life because of that. And it's even worse when I had to work overtime!
3. Sometimes you simply don't feel appreciated despite the hard work.
Don't even get me started with a horrible boss because that was the last shot that made me quit my job a few years ago!
After resigning from my job at the multinational company (which I would consider my last office job because my actual last job before pivoting into freelancing was really a shitty one), I accepted a job in a local-owned design school. Only for me to realize how I took things for granted because I got better things in everything in my previous job.
On top of that, despite how stressful my job was, at least I had a supportive boss that actually loved to show me grow. The last job that I had at the local-owned design school was a disaster!
The boss was the product of toxic sacrifice that got to where he was… Which made him think that we had to get through the same shit hole as he did to succeed. I had to be a whistleblower that sent an email to the director of the company about how he treated the staff. From unpaid late working hours, belittling their staff and thinking he was the only one who's right. It was such a toxic working environment that I got there.
I could only survive for 3 months, because it was the 3 months of hell for me. I didn't know how many days I had to stay late for some unnecessary meetings or listen to my boss's rants about some trivial stuff. On top of that, the HR just told us that the annual leaves we get include the holidays, which means that we couldn't take leaves outside the holidays.
That being said, not all corporate jobs are bad, but some companies out there really treat you like slaves. Avoid them at all costs!
What's Stressful About Becoming an Entrepreneur?
Despite being an entrepreneur, I really hate it when people start glorifying entrepreneurship as if it's like the easiest thing to do when you have a dead-end!
Granted, maybe it's easier if you have the privilege of back-up plan or the inner circle that could be your safety net when things go wrong. But it's not always the case. When you're stressed because of a corporate job, you're stressed mentally, but at least you know that you'll still get paid for your labor by the end of the day as long as you have the job.
But being an entrepreneur? That shit is privilege because otherwise, you have to declare bankruptcy to get things started all over again.
Sure, if you work hard enough with an adequate amount of luck to get by, you tend to have a higher chance for a work-and-life balance. You can also manage your time so you can get enough rest in between your hard work.
But no one told you that when you have to work your ass off as an entrepreneur, you actually do to the point that sometimes you feel like you barely have a life.
1. You're constantly worried about money.
Ever since I started my journey as an entrepreneur, I gotta admit that there isn't a day that goes by without me getting worried about money. Will I be able to afford the bills this month if I don't get a new client onboarded? What else could I do for a backup plan? The list goes on.
And no one told me about how sometimes being an entrepreneur means that I have to spend 24/7 working or try to get some work to get by. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
For me, at least at the beginning of my journey, I didn't worry much about paying the bills since I got back to my parents' house. At least I didn't have to worry about what I needed to eat or how to pay the rent. But if I don't have the privilege as I did back then, I really couldn't imagine how long it would take until I make it. Maybe never.
2. Sometimes the journey can be a little lonely.
I know how it is to be a solopreneur, and I also got a chance to build another business with co-founders. But even so, the journey can still feel a little lonely because a lot of times, you think you have a lot of visions about how your business would take, but you feel like you're the only one who cares about it.
If there's anything that I got from being an entrepreneur, it is that I no longer want self-reliance to be considered as my positive trait for every other thing in life. It's like, in business, I know how it is to have no one to rely on so I can get up and do things myself.
It's something that you rarely experience when you climb the corporate ladder, because you will always have a team that you can count on. Sure, they can be a make or break for your whole career, but at least you're not gonna feel all alone for every decision.
I recently watched The Intern movie, and I could honestly embody how Jules felt when choosing between her professional and personal life.
3. You are forced to know a little bit of everything.
Running a business, especially when you do it all alone, you only have yourself to count on. And that means that you need to know a bit of everything to make sure that your business works smoothly. For me personally, I think I should be grateful that I consider myself a generalist instead of a specialist because at least I already know some other things on the surface.
When you start your own business, you can only begin with a positive mindset that it's gonna work. And when it works out, no way you'll do it alone forever because, at some point, you have to delegate your tasks. In order to delegate your tasks properly, you need to know how it is to teach others about what you do.
Rest assured, it can be overwhelming when you're expected to know how it is to be a salesperson, an HR specialist, and a trainer at the same time… But that's what being an entrepreneur is all about.
It's not always easy, but at least you do it as an attempt to build your dream.
So, which one is more stressful? Climbing the Corporate Ladder or Becoming an Entrepreneur?
Nothing in life has ever come easy. A lot of times, you have to pay for your glory. Whether you climb the corporate ladder or taking a leap to become an entrepreneur, both come with the risks and perks that may work better for you.
So, which one is worth the risk for you? Share in the comment below, and cheerio! 😉