get a job

6 Reasons Why “A Job” Might Be The Best Entrepreneurial Advice You Can Get

by MJ DeMarco · 22 comments

A lot of entrepreneurs tend to HATE on jobs, especially us Fastlaners.

And yes, I admit; I’m guilty.

Despite my guilt, getting a job might be the best entrepreneurial advice you can receive.

Here are 6 reasons why:

Reason #1
You have to experience firsthand how much the system sucks in order to be motivated enough to leave it.

A job can reinforce your desire and determination on just how bad you want to be an entrepreneur.

For example, read this thread (screwed over by my boss) over at the FastlaneForum.

In this story, an entrepreneur takes a job under the premise that “you will be taken care of!” if he does an excellent job in the position.   Long story short, the employee does as expected and better; he sacrifices his life with long hours and does a fantastic job only to find out that the promise of “you will be taken care of” amounts to a measly 5% pay raise.

Gee thanks.

The man is livid and the whole experience sharpens his determination to become an entrepreneur.

Reason #2
A job can verify your entrepreneurial DNA, or lack thereof.

How many times have you heard your friend talk about starting a business?

You’ve heard the old story dozens of times: Willie-Wantrepreneur wants to be an entrepreneur but decides to get a job first — you know, so Willie-Wantrepreneur can “pay bills” and meet his obligations… and then… the next thing you know, Willie-Wantrepreneur is forever trapped in a job and the mediocre lifestyle it affords… as soon as he receives his first paycheck, lifestyle entrapment ensues  (the fancy apartment, the leased Lexus) forever prohibiting Willie-Wantrepreneur from starting a business because “I have responsibilities.”

To translate the above, Willie-Wantrepreneur has junk he can’t afford and isn’t willing to sacrifice that junk to take the entrepreneurial risk.

Want to uncover your true work-life DNA?  Then go get a job.

If you enjoy the illusion: the so-called security and peace-of-mind of a paycheck, you probably aren’t cut from the fabric of entrepreneurship.  And that’s OK.  Conversely, if you loathe the job, the structure, and the boss, regardless of Friday’s paycheck, you might have that rare entrepreneurial DNA.

The fact is, many people *think* they are entrepreneurs but they aren’t. These people are actually in love with the mystique of entrepreneurship (be your own boss, make your own hours, unlimited pay ceilings) but are oblivious to the sacrifices needed to make those benefits real.

Thousands of wantrepreneurs enter the workforce never to return — and that’s a good thing — because they weren’t entrepreneurs in the first place.

Reason #3
See Unseen Opportunities

Third, getting a job will expose you to opportunities unseen in your current unemployed position. A common theme in many entrepreneurial success stories is the discovery of a need uncovered in a job. Successful businesses are started because an employee immersed in job culture sees an unfilled need and decides to solve it.

The success story always starts the same … “I was working over at ACME Company and I noticed that there was a NEED/PROBLEM for XYZ and decided that I could solve it.

Success in business evolves from a need-based premise; not “be your own boss” “do what you love” or any other typical self-love, guru-fed BS.

A job might give you the right foundation.

Reason #4
Experience Business Before You Can Start A Business

Getting a job will give you first-hand experience in seeing how successful (and unsuccessful) businesses are run.

In all my job experiences, I always enjoyed analyzing the business process.  In each instance, I reflected on how I would do things differently. If I was in charge around here, what would I do different? Or not at all?

For example, when I was a teenager I delivered pizzas. I remember the owner of the pizza joint complaining regularly about dismal sales figures on Mondays. After suffering the slow Mondays myself (not a lot of pizza to deliver!) I suggested that the owner run a “Monday Night Football” pizza promotion. Pizza and football go hand-in-hand, so why not run a promotion to encourage more pizza sales for the big Monday night game?

Sounds like a great idea right?


The owner snarked “Well, when you own you own pizza place, you can do that, until then, keep quiet.”  Basically, he told me to shut up and get lost. Despite being in the target demographic for a pizza buyer, the owner decided that my idea was unworthy.  I mean seriously … 18 year old kids don’t buy pizza or watch football right?  It wouldn’t shock me that this pizza owner is now out of business, or still stuck in the same rat hole working 7 days a week for a paltry $40K/year, complaining about misery Monday.

Reason #5
Free Education

You can learn a shit-load with on the job training. Many companies will pay for an advanced education, seminars, sales training, and whatever else that can help make employees more productive. Take this comment on the Fastlane forum from a respected entrepreneur about on-the-job learning.

“[I]went to work for the world’s largest retailer [WalMart]. It was then that my eyes were opened up to the free education I was receiving. I was studying from the industry giants, I was getting paid to do things like attend Dale Carnegie classes, and I was using someone else’s LARGE checkbook to experiment. I was being trained the best practices in the world from a company who knew it ALL, and they were paying me while I was getting this education.”

Reason #6
“Older” Entrepreneurs Have More Success

Some research suggests that most new successful entrepreneurs are older, not younger. Yes, despite all the success stories of young tech entrepreneurs striking it big, the older generations are having more success when starting businesses.   Some attribute this success to business experience, established credit, more startup capital, more networking contacts, or perhaps, decades of corporate doldrums as motivational fire — whatever the reason,  years of business experience might groom you toward entrepreneurial success.

In closing, don’t fear the job as a path to your entrepreneurial goals.  I know some of you out there view “getting a job” as a failure.

It isn’t.

Make “getting a job” not symbolic of failure, but symbolic of your commitment to your entrepreneurial process.



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Comment Guidelines: We all have opinions and I'm cool with ya disagreeing with me however anonymous comments, stupid comments, trolling, hating, and other uncivil comments will be deleted.

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  • Adiakritos

    An old jewish principle I heard that is used to explain why jews happened to be generally very resilient and wealthy, no matter where why go, is “All jews are professionals and entrepreneurs”. 

    • ron

      Sounds good but Jews also have high poverty rates in parts of America despite stereotypes. Jews are also a tiny minority in America. That is why in a jewish nation like Israel they MUST work the jobs that make the nation run. The police officer, the pilot, the fireman, the electrician and on and on. You can’t outsource it all if the actual ethnic group wants to run a nation.Can’t run a nation on salesmen if you want to be the controlling group in a nation. The so called dirty work jobs are what makes the actual nation RUN…It is just in America there are so many people, others will do it…

  • Benji Walklet

    Great post, MJ.

    I think I was fortunate to learn early how much most Jobs suck. I did an unpaid internship and basically commuted 3 hours every day to spend 8 hours a day on Facebook and Stumbleupon, with the occasional “bosses” (a mere 2-3 years older than me) telling me to make them pie charts in Excel. After 3 months of that I had had enough, and haven’t turned back to the rat race since.

    Another motivator was seeing people on the bus and train during my commute. They all looked completely miserable. That was another indication that my life had to change.

    • MJ DeMarco

      OMG. the morning commute is always a good motivator!

  • Jen

    True. I started a small business last year. Unfortunately, it failed quite fast (I did not loose much money, but learned a lot from my mistake). Afterwards I got hired by a start-up company where I work now. A job is a job – really hating it somedays, but boy am I learning a lot here from my boss, from investors, from colleagues, from customers, from partners, from government agencies etc. Have my bills paid for now and free education ongoing. Soon should be ready to start my own company again – this time truly ready.

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  • Manu

    In my case I absolutely agree with reasons #1 and #2.

    A week ago I had to help my family in two different masquerading-as-jobs bussiness they own, a bar and a greenhouse, and even they paid me something I felt miserable doing it.

    The loooong hours doing work that trades my time almost directly for money, trying to change bad practices and improve organization but not being able because I’m not the owner and lack of time… maybe I’m just a whiner but it was a nightmare. One day there was point when I actually felt my stomach upset because of a disorganized situation.

    It’s been a few months since I consciously decided I want to be an entrepreneur and I was a good slap to remember one of the reasons I choose to do this.

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  • DJ Duty

    This is great!

  • Mike

    Dear MJ

    I just got done reading your book and it is easily the best the book I have ever read on business/finance. It help to explain why a job and investing in the stock market/real estate for 40-50 years is not a good way to create wealth. There are only so much time for the money to grow, there is only so much money you can make in a job and so much interest/investment growth you can make. My big question for you is would it be Slowlane to get advanced degrees from High Caliber Colleges and to have years of experience to start a hedge fund or private equity fund like many Hedge fund and private equity managers have or would it just be part of the process of the fastlane?

    Sincerely Mike

  • Eric

    Great Post I learned alot more about systems working at MC Donalds than from just reading a book ore watching a DVD. There is nothing wrong with a job starting out on you’re path to being a self suficient Entrepreneure in my opnion

  • Ron C.

    Reason 7. You can still save money from the job to gain some capital for your business. If I am not mistaken, this was already a point in the MF book.

  • Michael Vale

    Very cool post and I learned so much from it….omg

  • Jay Samuelli

    I think that everyone can benefit from a little time in the corporate world. Even if only to get a peek behind the wizards curtain, so to speak.

  • twalkitout

    Firstly keeping the sstuff aside, i surely “enjoyed” reading this . I have just gone through all this and pushing my entrepreneurial vitals up, this info just acted as an antidote to the slackening overpowering me!! just awesome!!!

  • Tlcalis

    Thanks MJ I’m 19 and I’ve never had a job

    so I’m going to be searching for a job. So that I began earning some money and try to get some experience.

    I also heard several places that a lot of people complain about their job or about how shitty their job is.

    But isn’t it also very common that many who complain about their job aren’t always trying very hard at their job? and if they can’t handle their job, how would they be able be an entrepreneur?

  • livedajourney

    Hi there, I decided to check out the forum after reading your eye-opening book. This blog post is super relevant to me, just enrolled in my first marketing job and I’m quite disillusioned. I’m overqualified for what I get to do and it feels like colleagues are more interested in preserving a comfortable workday rather than moving the company forwards. My initiative to implement new marketing initiatives with most likely HUGE leverage was met with blank stares. The one good thing is that I have plenty of time to study stuff I may be able to apply later in a venture. I’ll be trolling the forums looking for recommendations. Thanks for your work MJ

  • Mojtaba Ghavidel

    when you have a job,you negotiate better at your own business

  • Ernie

    Excellent! I just ‘discovered’ your book 2 weeks ago and found it simple yet powerful! I’ve read many books like this and have to say I currently work at a large fortune 500 company.
    I’m only 32 years old and despite the six-figure salary, healthcare, & vacation days… I’m done here!!! I see the 40-year plus guys around here and have vowed to be in a much better place well before that age. You’re right on with the free training and education I received here. It’s been priceless but your book was the final kick in the ass I needed. Time to move on…Many thanks!

    Ernie in AZ

  • Ian Pickering

    I have been working for way longer than I have had entrepreneurial aspirations, and I find my own perspective on work shifting into line with the points in this post more and more.

    I am actually changing jobs next week, and I am planning on 2 things:
    1 – Soaking it up and finding that unseen opportunity
    2 – starting a business by 2015, and not going back to a “job” ever again

    I gotta say, I would have never gotten to this point without TMF – thank MJ

  • Pablo Domingo Montesinos

    Great piece of advice MJ.

    It is always so motivating reading you!! When I was busy with The Millionaire Fastlane I could really not stop reading and it was always inspiring. It took all my energy from inside and put it in action.

    Thank you very much for all that you share.
    All the best, Pablo

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