I Have a Successful Business but Still Work a 9-to-5

Last year, I was invited to a local television show to speak about the importance of “spring cleaning” your finances. While I was there, I met a businesswoman who was invited to share her expertise on the power of organizing your home and decluttering. We chatted about our respective businesses while we waited to be called for our segments. I learned that she had an office in an enviable part of the city and loved what she did. By the way she spoke, I thought she had it all and had it all figured out.

I told her that personal finance was my love language, and I felt that I was born to inspire women to be thoughtful and brave. However, I glossed over the fact that my business was not my primary source of income. This was because I had internalized some of the common belief that entrepreneurship is the ultimate form of winning and if I’m still working a 9-to-5, I lacked confidence in myself, and my vision was “playing small” and settling for a B-rated life.

Click to read more about what it’s really like to be an entrepreneur.

Once our segments ended, we walked to the train together and continued our conversation. Between the 15 minutes it took to exit the studio and swipe our Metrocards through the turnstile, I learned that my new friend was in heavy business debt, and had financed much of her personal and business expenses across several credit cards. She was also extremely stressed.

Since she was such a new friend, I didn’t feel it was my place to give her advice, so I instead gave her a listening ear. As we stood on the platform, she shared some more. And when we boarded the train, she shared even more. Throughout this conversation, I wondered if she ever considered returning to a 9-to-5 while she built her business or if she, too, deep down believed that worker bees were losers.

Since our conversation, I’ve revised my initial “all or nothing” stance about being an entrepreneur or working for someone else.


My New Beliefs

  • If you’re unhappy at your job, then maybe you should find a different job that better aligns with your values, complements your skill set and provides fulfillment. Quitting your job to work for yourself without exploring this option may work against you.
  • Entrepreneurship isn’t the only way to show that you embrace risk and uncertainty. Ever fall in love, have an unpopular opinion and voice it, move to a new city or share your vulnerabilities with a new friend? Those are risks, right there.
  • Working for yourself is still work. Much of these conversations about true and ultimate fulfillment are rooted in what you do instead of relationships, personal growth and having an impact on the lives of people you don’t know. Keep this in mind the next time that you’re beating up on yourself about whether or not being “the boss” is the ultimate symbol of a being a badass.
  • You can work for someone and work for yourself. It’s not mutually exclusive.
  • Your 9-to-5 is not a burden, it’s a blessing. It gives you stability and allows you to fund your business without dumpster diving for food each month.
  • We all have the capacity to be entrepreneurs, but I do think size matters. You can be a full-time or part-time entrepreneur or somewhere in-between.
  • Maybe the reason you’re able to love your passion is because you can do it when you want. If you rely on it to make you money, maybe you won’t love it as much.

Making the Right Decision for Yourself

Since I founded The Frugal Feminista, I’ve been paid to speak about women and personal finance across the country, worked with large brands, written books and built an online money movement that I’m truly proud of. I did this while simultaneously being committed to helping close the achievement gap as an education administrator. These are two causes that are dear to my heart.

While I keep myself open to the idea of making The Frugal Feminista my main source of income and do the work necessary to make it happen, I’ll enjoy the journey, for now, no matter how winding. I now know this truth: Success can happen whether you work for yourself, work for someone else or do a combination of the two. Only you will know what’s right for you, and only your opinion should matter the most when it comes to making this decision.

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