So many inspirational blogs ask their readers to step out of their comfort zone, follow their passion, quit their job and travel the world. Today, I'd like to play devil's advocate and look at the other side of the coin. Perhaps, it's not always the best idea to drop everything and become an entrepreneur.
Let's take Bob for example, he's a 30 year old bank teller making 30K a year. Every day he wakes up feeling anxious and counting down to the weekend. He's managed to save up some money and now wants to quit his job, travel for two months, then come back and open a vegan restaurant. This is a typical scenario for someone who's fed up.
How much money did Bob save exactly? Statistics Canada has released a chart showcasing the median net worth (=total assets-total liabilities) of Canadian families in 2005. Considering this chart is from 2005, let's be optimistic and assume that in 2016, the median net worth of families younger than 35 years old rose to 25K. Now that's for two people (a family). Divide that number by two and we have 12.5K of cash for Bob to play with. This is obviously a rough estimate, but it seems about right to me.
First, let's talk about Bob's travel plans. He's dreaming of doing the ultimate Euro trip. How much will it really cost him? You can't put a price tag on this life changing experience, but budgeting is still important. Blondechicktravels blog breaks down her cost of a 2 month long Euro trip:
Main Transportation Costs
-Round Trip Flight to/from Europe: 777.62
-In Europe Travel Cost (city to city):
-Plane Travel: 803.40
-Train Travel: 845.53
-Bus Travel: 27.31
Daily Costs USD (for 50 days):
-Food (inc. alcohol, which was very minimal): 1,619.50
-Attractions (tours, museums, etc): 558.35
-Local Transport (metro, local bus, local train): 393.10
+ miscellaneous expenses $233.07 for a grand TOTAL of $6,836.67 USD ($9,431.19 CAN, ouch!)
That's way too expensive for Bob. Let's say he decides to only travel for one month instead of two. So it ends up costing him $9,431.19/2=$4,715.6
As a result, after his extraordinary Europe adventure, Bob returns to Montreal having $7,784.4 in his pocket to start his new business and life.
According to restaurantowner.com, the minimum startup cost needed to open a restaurant in the lower quartile is $125,000. That's way out of Bob's budget. He might want to look into starting a vegan catering business from his own apartment first which also needs a solid investment to run a secure website, inventory, etc.
Small Business BC states that business owners need to fund 25-50% of their businesses from their own pocket. This means that the maximum amount that Bob can count on to start his vegan catering business would be 16K. That's the best case scenario.
"In 2007, only 2% of businesses obtained some sort of government funding or assistance." (Small Business BC)
There are very good chances that Bob is not eligible for any sort of government assistance since these programs are usually geared towards specific industries and groups of people. Commercial loans are another possible option. They represent a more common form of financing (44% of businesses).
Let's be optimistic yet again and assume that Bob put together an outstanding business plan. He managed to impress his lenders and get a loan. He now has $16,000. What's next? Bob needs to start his business.
Bob finally starts his vegan catering business, hires a graphic designer, chef, etc. I still have bad news for him. Bloomberg states that 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. That's a very discouraging statistic. The chances of Bob succeeding at his under financed business are extremely low. Not to mention the stress of having to pay off his loan, rent and other personal expenses during the first two years (when most new businesses are not profitable).
If Bob's business fails (which has a very high probability of happening), he is left with debt, two to three years of time "wasted" and facing the dreaded return to a 9 to 5 job. Optimists will say, "Well, at least he tried!" Yes, but! He would have been in a WAY better position if he chose to stick to his day job instead of "following his dreams". He would probably get a raise by now, be financially secure and overall less stressed.
In other words, becoming an entrepreneur is a gamble that you need to really take time and analyze before jumping into. Your chances of succeeding are very low. It's not impossible, but the odds are never in your favour.
If adrenaline rushes and uncertainty make you nervous, you should definitely stick to the comfort of a 9 to 5 job and pick up a hobby on the side in order to feel more fulfilled in life. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable. The ultimate goal is to be happy.
On a side note, here's what helps me to stay happy.