For those fresh out of college and leaving the academic world, there is a pivotal decision ahead: what to do with the rest of your life… or at least where to start? Do you become part of the corporate workforce, clocking in at 9 and out at 5? Or do you take the risk on your own business?
The basic pros and cons of becoming your own boss can be broken down into the following:
- You are the key decision maker
- There’s freedom and flexibility
- You can cultivate your passion into a career
- The ability to be selfish with limited responsibilities to other people and finances (that is, until you have employees and investors)
- The government wants you to succeed—there has been an ease on federal student loan burdens by allowing upcoming graduates to cap their monthly payments at 10% of their income, with any remaining debt balance forgiven after 20 years—thanks, Uncle Sam!
- You need a lot of self-discipline to succeed
- There’s no sense of security in the form of a consistent cash flow
- You’ll get no employer-provided insurance or health benefits. Under the Affordable Care Act, every American is required to have insurance or face a penalty if they don’t, either a flat amount ($95 for 2014) or a percentage of income (1% for 2014), whichever is greater
- If you have student loans, the obligations to make those payments may prevent you from being able to take the chances or risks that are usually necessary when starting a business
- There’s a possibility of serious debt when you shoulder all the risk
The argument is almost equally weighted, so what makes risking your life savings worth it? What is the motivator—is it the aversion to the safer route of working at an established company or the desire to create something innovative on your own terms?
Ken Sundheim—who started KAS Placement (a sales, marketing and media recruitment company) in his college dorm room—said, “I would deter any recent graduate who wants to open a business simply to avoid getting a job, as entrepreneurship is a 24-hour position.” A startup is a way to escape standardized work, but is the opposite of taking it easy. Startups require time, energy, sweat and tears—of both happiness and despair.
But what if the option is to become an entrepreneur or to remain unemployed? According to Scott Gerber, serial entrepreneur and founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, “if your back is against the wall [without a job], and you’re smart about thinking who your partners can be, who can fill in your weaknesses with their strengths, I think that anyone can learn to become an entrepreneur.”
Becoming an entrepreneur is a career path open to every graduate, but only those willing to completely invest in themselves will grow into pioneers of innovation. Recent graduates pursuing entrepreneurship need their love of creation to outweigh the desire for security—it is passion that will burn the embers of success.