We complain about the corporate world, and then we complain some more. It’s bureaucratic. It’s inefficient. The politics drive us up the wall. If only we could be out on our own, doing our own thing, we’d be so much happier.
The truth is, there are some things about corporate jobs that we forget about, things that we don’t value until we don’t have them anymore. These are the three little Ps: peace, prestige and perks.
When you are but one small part of a massive machine, relative peace is the result. You get to work, do your job for several hours, and leave at the end of the day. You can reliably expect your paycheck to show up on a regular basis, and generally, you can focus on your job without worrying if it will be around tomorrow. And if you screw up a major project, you can apologize and move on. Do that as an entrepreneur or small business owner and you might not eat for a while.
Do you think you work long hours now? You might, but working for a large organization, you’re still encouraged to disconnect for personal and vacation time. You might be required to check email periodically, but other than that, you’re free to do what you want. If your significant other decides to whisk you away to New Orleans for a 24-hour birthday getaway, you can go without anxiety that the business will come crashing down in your absence.
Most corporate employees have a career path that’s pretty structured. They set goals with their manager and know what they need to do to get to the next level. Their organizations are very explicit about how they should present themselves, how they should behave, and what rules and processes they should follow. There is something safe, comforting, and peaceful about clear expectations. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you have no idea of what your career will be like from one year to the next. If all goes extremely well, you might continue along status quo, but you are at the mercy of a thousand things that could go wrong. And if they do, welcome to the jungle!
You might be an admin or junior level staffer now, but if you’re smart and have great people skills, with time you will rise to a very comfortable position in the corporate world. You can get a job at a well-known company whose name you will be proud to share on your resume and at networking events. Your parents will understand what you do and will be proud of you. When you spend a certain number of years at a company with stellar name recognition, the credibility of that firm will open career doors forever.
Without a large organization backing you, your level of prestige is more likely to go down rather than up over time. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners are scrappy and poor, not famous or rich. Talk to a few, and they’ll tell you that they launched their own gig because they weren’t in a position to do anything else. If they’d wanted a taste of life in the rarefied world of the Top 1 percent, they would have gone on reality TV. The point is, statistically, you are more likely to be financially well-off by working your way up in an established company.
Last but certainly not least, we have the perks. Obamacare is great and all, but let’s face it, the money your employer contributes to your health insurance and retirement plans is a major benefit. And now that they’re trying harder to recruit and retain top talent, many organizations are increasing their coverage. What you’ll get on the Marketplace doesn’t touch it.
Bonuses may or may not be a part of your package in a corporate job, but other goodies certainly are. You could have access to healthy onsite meals, exercise, healthcare, child care, retail products, cars, vacations and entertainment outlets. I’ve been a sole proprietor for over a decade, and after a recent visit to the headquarters of a Fortune 500 technology company, I wanted to quit immediately and start working there.
Finally, interacting with a corporation every day also brings with it a priceless perk, and that’s access. You constantly have opportunities to meet and speak with people who can help with your career one way or another. You could get a senior-level mentor, attend industry events and be introduced to high-profile people at other organizations. Your contact list will grow exponentially faster than if you were trying to network on your own.
What else do you value about working at your current organization? Let us know in the comments below.