Should you continue a 9-5 job or set up your own business?


This article is to provide some consideration points to anyone (especially Gen Z) who is thinking of quitting a job to set up a small business.

The dilemma of being an employee or an entrepreneur with its myriad of ups and downs is not unfamiliar to Gen Z. Although everyone has their own career aspirations, many have experienced “seismic shifts” deep in their passionate hearts.

Before taking the plunge, considering all options is necessary. Let’s explore how to decide between being an employee or an entrepreneur, as well as some tips to boost your morale!

Understanding yourself first

Whether you want to work in a specific field or start from scratch, understanding your passion (what you love to do) versus your strengths (skills and talent) is essential. In other words, you need to understand yourself, and what are you willing to do to improve yourself before taking any big decision that could impact your financial life.

You can take some time to answer a few questions such as:

  • What specific work do I like to do? For example, do I want to start a food business or work as a finance employee at a large bank?
  • What are my strengths (skills, talents) for that work? For example, if you have a business management degree and your family has a business background, you have a good understanding of entrepreneurship.
  • What other requirements do I need? For example, being an entrepreneur requires many strong skills and wears many hats, i.e. leadership, finance, people management, and operation. What would you plan to do to brush up on these skills while still having a 9-5 job?
  • How do you plan for the financials, both for personal as well as business goals? Remember that both of the goals are different, and therefore you need to plan carefully so your personal goals will not be impacted if your small business takes a longer time to reach stability.

The above is just some of the suggested questions by MO Foundation for you to start, but there are many other questions in the journey to becoming an entrepreneur. 

More questions can be asked, depending on each situation, desire, ability, financial and personal circumstances. Talk to others who have gone through similar journeys. Find your community to support you and your dreams.


What do you need to prepare to become an entrepreneur?

You may see many “successful entrepreneurs” excite you on social media by saying that “starting your own business will give you freedom and financial independence”. It might be true in some cases, but it is a long and challenging journey.  Don’t just take the words for it, you have to focus on your plan, and carefully prepare to avoid unnecessary risks.

Firstly, you should thoroughly research the field and market you want to start a business. Carefully study potential customers, competitors, trends, and potentials in the field to get an overview of the market and orient your product or service.

Next, you need to plan in detail about your finances. This is one of the most important factors to ensure the success of the startup. You need to carefully calculate the initial capital, operating costs, expected profits, and repayment time if you lend money to start the business.

In addition, you should also seek and build relationships and network with partners, suppliers, potential customers, and employees while you are still at your employment. These are the people who can help and support you in the process of starting and developing your business.

Finally, you should not quit your 9-5 job yet unless you have a concrete plan and started some small steps in building that plan. Build the funds for at least 12 months of expenses for yourself, besides the initial investment capital for the business, as this might be the time when you do not have a steady paying income to support you when you quit the job.

If you want to continue your 9-5 job as an employee, what then?

Working as an employee is perhaps the starting choice for many young people before taking the “leap” in their careers. Working as an employee gives us experiences, relationships, and perspectives, and builds a foundation for our lives in many aspects. And if you take your job as your own business, i.e. having that entrepreneurship spirit, you might go far in your career development.

Each person will have a different purpose for working. Some want to advance and become “irreplaceable” in the company, while others want to have a high salary that matches their abilities as they grow to become a leader in the company. There are also those who work for the sake of waiting to pursue their passion in becoming an entrepreneur at a later time. Depending on each purpose, you will plan and prepare for different stages. For example, after 3-5 years of working, you may want to see the promotion in terms of both ranking and financially for yourself, or you could consider starting something on your own.

We did mention before that you should equip yourself with an entrepreneurial mindset even when working for somebody. What do we mean by that? It means you have to be dedicated, flexible, proactive, humble, responsible, constantly learning and updating your knowledge and expertise in any job. Best of all, never give up when things get hard, because that is the ultimate spirit of an entrepreneur.  This could help you to be given more responsibilities, and potentially move up the corporate ladder in the future.

Promotion in the corporate environment is not necessarily happening to everyone automatically. You need to brush up on your negotiation skill to be confident to talk to your boss and set the development plan for yourself. If you stay stagnant in the job, both in ranking and financially, you will not develop and increase your values over time. And the other risks could potentially involve being laid off when the company is not doing well, or the economy is unstable. This is when a lot of people would have a plan B, setting up a side business as a backup.

Working as an employee is a great opportunity for you to learn and develop, especially with good bosses who can be mentors/coaches to help you advance in many aspects. Pursuing a career in a corporate world is not a bad idea at all, if this provides you fulfillment in life. Just don’t forget to keep improving on yourself, your skill set or experience, and most important of all, your financial situation, as you move up that corporate ladder.


Whether to work as an employee or as a business owner depends on your individual decisions based on your passion, abilities, financial planning, and life circumstances at each point in time. And some of you might think you can do both, continue a 9-5 job, and invest in a small business as your plan B. Why not? If you are willing to do anything, don’t hesitate and just go for it. The important thing is taking small steps and starting to build something. Transform your ideas into real actions. Success will be a motivation, but failure will provide valuable lessons.

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