Last week I received the following message from Bernard (not his real name), in response to one of my emails about working online (emphasis mine):
I’m a 25 year old Irish medical student who got offered a 3 week placement world’s leading Emergency Department in Cape Town South Africa. Sounds great but I’ve 8 months [to] raise $2100 to grab this opportunity by the balls. I’ve a degree in Psychology and i’m 75% a doctor with the audacity and personality to seize whatever opportunity comes my way.
What kind of online business would you recommend Bernard start building so he can earn that $2100 as fast as possible?
Here’s what I told him:
You said you have 8 months to earn the $2k.
Honestly, with that much time I’d say just get a decent offline job working evenings and weekends, preferably one where you can learn some online skills as you go. That way you’d have a steady income and you’d be building some skills you could use later for an online business if you wanted to.
You could easily enough make $2k in 8 month online as well, but only try that if you’re really eager to build an online business.
I wanted to share this with you because although I write a lot about building an online business and encourage lots of people to do so, it’s not the right path for everyone.
In fact, here are 2 good reasons why you should forget about starting an online business and go get a regular job (or keep your current one) instead.
1. To Earn
If you’re broke, get a job.
Pretty much any job will do at first, since for some magical reason it’s easier to find another job when you already have one.
Work the window at McDonalds if that’s what it takes to start putting some money in your bank account.
Work hard, display initiative, see if you can rise through the ranks and up your payscale. Don’t just punch in and go through the motions. If you’re going to be there anyway, you might as well make the most of it.
Some people subscribe to the idea that you work better when your back is against the wall, so being broke can help you be more creative and give you that extra dose of determination required to make your own business succeed.
No doubt that works for some people, but for most of us a much better plan is to get yourself a regular paycheck, pay off your debt, and save up 3-6 months of living expenses.
Once you get to that point, you’ll be free of financial stress and you can figure out ways to free up some time to work on your own thing.
2. To Learn
Years ago I stumbled across a blog of some dude – let’s call him Harry – who was learning how to climb.
His self-assigned mission was to go from zero to hero on the rock wall in just a few short months.
With such an ambitious goal, Harry got busy brainstorming ways he could hack his environment to make success more attainable.
Here’s what he came up with:
“I concluded that the best way for all of these goals to manifest, would be to get a job over the winter at a rock climbing centre.”
This struck me as somewhat genius.
Perhaps the only “better” way for Harry to reach his goals would have been to spend a ton of money on a personal rock climbing coach and gym fees.
But by getting a job at a rock climbing centre (which he did), Harry not only managed to flip the financial part of the equation, but he also surrounded himself with a bunch of rock climbing experts and gave himself almost limitless opportunities to practice.
With that in mind, it’s worth taking a minute to ask yourself:
What do I want to learn?
What do I want to get better at?
- Get a job as a salesperson or assisting one.
- Get a job at a gym.
- Ask if they need any help down at the local auto shop.
- Get a job as a farm hand and learn to grow your own food.
Get in, work hard, learn what you want to learn, get out.
Again, I know this might seem contrary to all my usual advice about building an online business and why that’s a great thing to do.
But regular employment isn’t always a bad thing.
9-to-5 isn’t the enemy.
You just want to avoid working endlessly at a job that gets you nowhere (or a job you hate).
Because we’ve only got so much time on this rock.
Best not waste it.