in Business

Don’t Discount the Value of a 9 to 5

As an entrepreneur, I feel like I am lumped into a group of ‘lifestyle designers’ who run through the streets preaching that you should never work a nine to five – that if you’re spending your time in a cubicle you’re a sell out and that working for ‘the man’ is the devil.

Hear me loud and clear – I do not, in any way, think that 9 to 5ers are “suckers”. I’ve written about it before that YOU need to be doing whatever is best for YOU. Just like nine to fives aren’t for everyone, neither is entrepreneurship. There are pros and cons to both (no, the freelance life isn’t all glitz and glamour) – and there are things I very much miss about the office environment.

I get tired of seeing people who are hell-bent on talking others into “breaking away” from the grind. I love my current lifestyle and the work I’m doing but I also fully understand that this isn’t for everyone.

The ‘corporate’ life has a ton of great benefits. So from an ‘entrepreneurs perspective’ here are a few things that I see as extremely valuable in a 9 to 5.

The Value of Community

One of the things I miss most about my agency job was being able to work with so many other passionate, hard working people who shared in similar interests. There is a LOT to be said for the power of collaboration and what you can accomplish within a positive company culture. Being able to bounce ideas around, ask questions, and learn from others in your field (at all levels of experience) is invaluable. Going into work with an open mind and being receptive to other ideas will allow you to grow exponentially as an individual and young (or old) professional.

The Value of Structure

We talk all the time about ‘lifestyle design’ and ‘location independence’ – that we don’t like structure and routine and we want to set the pace for our own life. I agree that freedom is a beautiful thing, but structure can be as well. Work/Life balance is something that’s very important to many of us, and admittedly, as an entrepreneur, you do a lot of running around like a chicken with your head cut off – you work ridiculous hours, and that work/life balance becomes a blur.There’s a lot to be said for being able to leave work at work.

I look at my wife (she’s an accountant) who can come home and not think about work at night and on the weekends – while I sit next to her with my laptop open plugging away. I find myself now, as an entrepreneur, trying to get back that ‘structure’ I had in my previous jobs. I’m doing everything I can to create a nine to five away from the nine to five (funny how that works out, eh?) Being able to leave work on your desk in the office and come home with a clear mind is a beautiful thing.

The Value of Experience

When I talk to recent graduates, I never recommend to jump straight into entrepreneurship. I think EVERYONE should experience the ‘corporate’ lifestyle – and while it wasn’t quite my cup of tea, I still learned a ton and each experience was invaluable to shaping the “businessman” I am today. It’s important to do the nine to five thing and see if it is a good fit for you. The hours you work aren’t nearly as important as the work you do and the culture you surround yourself with.

Maybe the job you’re in right now isn’t ideal – but odds are you can still take a lot away from every experience. I’ve learned something from every single job I’ve had, all the way back to being a grocery bagger in Franklin, Tennessee at age 15. And if you feel like you’re not learning in your current situation – push your boss to take on new clients and projects or more challenging work – you’ll learn more, have more responsibility, and who knows, maybe earn a bigger paycheck.

The Value of…well, Being Valued

We all want to be valued, we want to be appreciated and recognized for our accomplishments, we strive to be an integral part of our businesses success – the key is, nine to five or not, find something that allows you that. Find something that allows you to be you and to be appreciated and valued as ‘you’. Your company will get the best out of you when you find a company that allows you to be at your best. That, and attitude is everything – it’s amazing what a positive attitude can do for even the shittiest job.

Do I love where I am today? Of course. Do I miss the nine to five sometimes? Very much so. I have ABSOLUTELY no regrets about any of the experiences I’ve had – each experience adds a little something to the toolbox. Nine to five or not – your passion is your passion, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Add Your Voice



  1. Oh Yeah! Working from home and on your own can be such a bummer at times. Sure I love what I do and I love the freedom, but on those days where I don't talk to another flesh and blood, it gets lonely.

    I also miss a boss sometimes, not often! On the days where i just can't quite figure out what to do next, it would be nice to have someone tell me.

    You bring up such a good point about lifestyle design. If you fall for the old, “travel around the world and do what I do,” thing, then you still aren't designing your life, your just following someone else!

  2. Community is something I enjoy most. Yes its great to have options to work anywhere you want (I think thats a powerful advantage) but when you're working from home its not a bad idea to start-up a co-working environment where local entrepreneurs and freelancers can work together at a coffee shop (or maybe lease an office together) M-F 10am-4pm to get work done. At least you're setting a flexile schedule for yourself, getting out of the house for “go time”, and still working with some amazing people in different fields.

  3. Matt, this is why I like your take on lifestyle design. It seems everyone talks about getting out of working for someone else, but no one addresses that it's not for everyone — or maybe not to that extent.

    Thank you for reminding me about the perks of my cube while inspiring me to make it mine!

  4. One, my first job was as a grocery bagger as well–awkwardly, it's still one of my favorite jobs I've ever had. Two, I totally agree. While I didn't last very long in the corporate world, I learned a ton and I absolutely loved the company I worked for. I met a ton of smart, talented and all-around awesome people. It just wasn't the right place at the right time for me, but I still miss getting to joke around with people in the office or have a big company lunch. The people are really what make the difference!

  5. To me, this whole discussion exists because society has created two activities in life – work and everything else. Regardless of whether or not you like work, it's one of two things you'll do in your life (I lump school into everything else).

    So if you believe in the idea of doing work and doing everything else, then the idea of applying value (or not applying value) to a 9 to 5 job (or any kind of job) is possible. But if you're not a fan of that belief, then this whole idea of value is out the window.

    Currently, we need money to survive in society. Hence the creation of work. Work earns us money which earns us everything else. At the end of the day, if we had to do away with work or everything else, we'd have to get rid of everything else because we need work to earn money to survive.

    So what if you change your perspective entirely? What if there isn't work and everything else? What if there's just one thing: life? What if you just did stuff and got paid for it?

    It doesn't matter what you do (probably something you enjoy), when you do it (who cares about 9 to 5), where you do it (who cares about location independence), or who you do it with (probably people you like). You simply do stuff and get paid for it.

    This makes perfect sense in my head. But I'm not sure if it makes any sense outside of there. Anybody follow what I'm blabbering about here? :)

  6. Matt,

    As somebody who is really in a hybrid role of 9-5 and freelancing I think you have some rock solid points. I'm not sure where I heard it, but somebody said that if you want to be an entrepreneur one of the best things you can do is find a job where you report directly to the CEO. I'm fortunate to be in that position. There are many benefits to reporting directly to the CEO. One of those of course is that you model yourself after an entrepreneur. The other ties to one of the things you mentioned. The CEO is a great sounding board for many ideas that you have and your communication doesn't get lost in the chain.

    On Balance: When you are freelancing, it's really easy to get caught up in a somewhat unbalanced situation where you are kind of working all the time. I've had to learn to free myself from my work a bit and unplug at times. It's really easy to spend all day in front of the computer tweeting, and doing other things.

  7. People should always realize that there are 'different strokes for different folks' out there and that is what makes the world go round. I have been on both sides of the fence, continually jumping back and forth like an idiot but the point is sometimes there are things that make it work for you no matter what side of the fence you find yourself on. I once quit a very good position that i had created for myself, working for myself when i no longer was being fulfilled. And i ran off to grab a position working for another individual that now called the shots. But that was okay. My brain was tired and i just wanted to be able to turn off the light and close the door at the end of the day. Of course, once that brain was well rested…i took off in a sprint clearing the fence in double time. Now once again, here i am, master of my own domain running another successful business (i am a bit compulsive and tend to give everything i do over 100%, sometimes a good thing, other times i know it will one day be the death of me). But it is me, it's how i do things, so i trudge on.

  8. Matt great artilce!!! I've worked in everything from a small business with 6 associates to the Fortune 100 with 80,000 associates. Very good insight. We can glean so much from any of these learning opportunities if we keep our minds open. From my experience, the small orgs provided great leadership opportunities on processes from start to finish, but the large orgs provided much learning for what is really required for processes and projects on a large scale.

  9. I love this post- most of the Gen-Y/Career/Social Media folks look at the benefits of breaking the rules and being different and not working that 9-5. Sure the rules have changed (just finished reading Brazen Careerist) but that doesn't mean we need to blow up everything- just realize how to adapt to what's changing and what's right for you.

    Thanks for taking the other view to most of the things I read.

  10. Exactly – and one path is not 'better' than the other. It comes down to what YOU think is best for YOU. No sense in letting me or anyone else tell you what you 'should' be doing…

  11. Very true. Though I love being an entrepreneur (I am currently working from bed) I have also enjoyed the private sector working as a project manager and there are advantages and disadvantages for both.

    Just a thought, if you break up you text chucks and get some white space in there it would make the layout more attractive to read.

    Trust you doing well mate, good to have you back on the blogging scene.

  12. Great post Matt. I'm currently employed in a job I don'r enjoy and working crazy hours so I don't have the benefit of closing the door at 5pm and forgetting about work, but I do also have the security of knowing I have a steady income whilst, in what little spare time I have, I can research and refine my ideas for creating a passive income from my own business. Hopefully, at some stage soon, I'll reach a tipping point where I can quit the 9-5, or maybe even just rebalance the hours I work, and concentrate more on my own business. There's a lot to be said for both worlds.

  13. Hey Jonny. Always looking to improve things around here. When you say I should 'break up my text chunks and add white space' – what exactly do you mean? In the post itself? Things look pretty spaced out on my end…I don't have a solid white background (a little light gray texture)…but, like I said, I want this to be as readable and accesible to my readers as possible so any feedback would be GREATLY appreciated. Feel free to shoot me an email – – would love your thoughts.

  14. My husband and I both work from home – he is much better at it than I am. He has more self discipline and self motivation. Actually, (and he still can't fathom this) I like working 9-5 at an offsite job. I like the structure, I like the social aspect and I find it's much easier for me to leave my work at work when I'm offsite working at a job.

    To each his own – I think the trick is finding what YOU really like and not do what's popular.

  15. Exactly – the idea of 'lifestyle design' is that you design your own life, right?

    I hear you on the boss thing – I don't miss it much, but like you said, this lifestyle can become very scattered and it would be nice to have someone around to say 'this is what you need to be doing'. Being your own boss is great, but a very unique challenge.

  16. I love the concept of co-working. If I wasn't so far out in the burbs here in Chicago I'd seriously consider doing it often. That collaborative environment can really help you come up with new ideas, get over an obstacle or hurdle, or just have others around to interact with face to face. I try to get myself out of the apartment often so I can get around other people.

  17. Working for yourself can be a beautiful thing but 1) I don't know if I'll be doing this forever and 2) as you said, it's not for everyone – and like everything else, it has it's pros and cons. I'm a realist and I will never try and convince everyone (or anyone) that they 'need' to be doing something different with their life than what they want.

  18. Holy shit Matt, this is my favorite post of yours by far. I SO TOTALLY AGREE. When I first quit my 9 to 5 to live the glamorous freelance life I'll admit to thinking those left behind were suckers. But honestly, what I wouldn't give to NOT think about work 24/7. To stop thinking about my shit at 5, to not confuse my bedroom for an office. That being said, I'm not a 9 to 5 kind of girl. I work best at 10pm and can't handle authority. My personality suits the entrepreneur lifestyle waaaaay better than an office gig, but other personalities are total opposites. I realize “escaping the 9 to 5 grind” is important to a lot of people. It changed my life. The important part is recognizing how YOU work best and kicking ass that way… THANKS FOR REMINDING US!

  19. I can't say that I agree on the bagger thing – but I did have a couple sweet gigs after that I had a lot of fun with (surprisingly in retail, which I really can't stand). I miss that community of the office environment as well – one of the main perks of working a 'nine to five'. You're absolutely right – the people that make up the culture of the business are most important.

  20. Finding that balance is extremely challenging Srini – something I continue to work on every single day. It's all about tuning out the excess and focusing, which of course is easier said than done.

    As for reporting to the CEO – I agree with you – although I had a very bad experience with that at my last job, I think that reporting directly to someone who is an entrepreneur themselves is extremely valuable from a learning standpoint. If I make my way back into the 9 to 5 world, I hope it would be with a smaller company that would allow plenty of creative freedom and that encourages innovation and ideas from all employees – there's nothing worse, in my mind, than being micromanaged and 'told' what to do 24/7.

  21. Great point. Rejecting the status quo and going against the norm is great – it's innovation and innovation is what sparks new ideas and keeps things moving forward – but like you said, we don't have to 'blow up everything' – we just need to embrace changes (and be a part of them when appropriate). Also, it's not a crime to 'go with the flow' every now and then :)

  22. Matt,
    there's just nothing else to say. You represent both sides fairly and eloquently. I think that working for someone else teaches you as much about what NOT to do as it does about what works, and what works for you, and it is certainly valuable information to have when striking out on your own. I have seen one too many entrepreneurs fail because they rushed into something they weren't quite ready for.

  23. I'm glad you said this Matt. I haven't had a boss in almost 7 years, but I know that path isn't right for everyone. My father would never be able to handle the lack of structure and money uncertainty, while his brother has had business ventures since 1981.

    I probably would have had to get a corporate job a few times if it wasn't for the fact that my husband has a steady 9-5. That balances out the variability in my income.

  24. Thanks for the kind words Marian. A little dose of 'realism' is needed from time to time, ya know? There's a lot of folks out there preaching that you MUST get away from your nine to five to be happy – and that is not at all the case. Folks like you and I, as you said, are entrepreneurial by nature and this lifestyle best suits our “needs” but it's not at all for everyone.

    Like you, I would give everything to be able to leave work at “work” – and I'm working my ass of now to get to that point (develop a rhythm and flow, etc) – but now that I'm away from the nine to five, I do realie there are a lot of things to be valued from that 'structured' environment.

    Thanks for the comment. Have a great weekend!

  25. Steady income is underrated. I love the freedom and diversity of the entrepreneurial life, but with that comes a lot of uncertainty and unknown – you never know when clients will stop coming in so it's a constant hustle to make sure your a step ahead of the game and always thinking into the future. Like you said, there's a lot to be said for both career lifestyles.

  26. yep, I've known your stance on this from your previous posts and think it's correct. Imagine if the whole world was filled with entrepreneurs and nothing else. Would that be a sustainable world? I wonder. Frankly, I think it would be WAY too much ego. As in all things, we need a balance, and options for people with different lifestyles, personalities and preferences.

  27. Well , the view of the passage is totally correct ,your details is really reasonable and you guy give us valuable informative post, I totally agree the standpoint of upstairs. I often surfing on this forum when I m free and I find there are so much good information we can learn in this forum!

  28. that's a very interesting point you bring up. i'd never thought of “balancing” the 9-5ers and the entrepreneurs in the world. you're right. having different people do different things does bring a measure of balance and that in turn makes life more interesting

  29. Stumbled across this post a bit late, but I just wanted to say that I love it. I'm one of those people who identifies strongly with the 9-5 job culture (at least thus far in my life) and I truly thrive in that environment. Thank you for highlighting the benefits of a 9-5 position. This post was great, and a refreshing one in the face of so much criticisms of these types of jobs among the blogosphere!

  30. Arguing over if people should work a nine to five or be an entrepreneur is pointless, in my mind. If you're doing what YOU want to be doing, that's all that matters. The only people that are 'settling' are the one's who hate whatever they do, complain about it to everyone, yet aren't doing anything to improve or change their situation. Thanks for the comment, Akhila.

  31. This hit home for me as I am an entrepreneur by nature and graduated Business school with a focus in entrepreneurship only to end up freelancing in social media marketing and not being completely satisfied. Don't get me wrong I love being able to work when I want and not have someone barking orders at me but I too longed for at least a sense of accomplishment at a standard career 9-5 type job. Recently I became a social media community manager at and I have the best of both worlds. There is no barking orders, in this environment everyone is equal, schedules are flexible and we are given the freedom to go in which ever direction we see fit. In addition I am still able to manage all my freelance clients on the side and I have to share that I have never been happier. While I don't get to go lounge at the beach all day anymore I am much happier to be busy and feel a sense of accomplishment and drive in everything I am doing now. Entrepreneurship and a career can work side by side but you have to find the right career at the right place that understands you as an individual.

  32. Although I would’ve preferred if you went into a little bit more detail, I still got the gist of what you meant. I agree with it. It might not be a popular idea, but it makes sense. Will definitely come back for more of this. Great work

  33. After over 10 years at my company, I agree with your last statement. We have a DUTY to find a company that treasures us for who we are.

    I like to work the 7-6, and do the online thing on the side. I hope I don’t run out of energy!