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Engineer: Career Pathway Conundrum – job or business

Dear all,


I am seeking some insights from professionals in any field to guide me and help me decide where to focus.


I have done masters in aeronautical and mechanical engineering and I have 5 years of experience in the field of design and development. From an Australian point of view, I am an experienced mechanical design engineer/mechanical designer.


I am very happy with working for somebody but I am always jotting down business ideas to the extent that I ended up spending quite a few dollars on setting up everything but then gave up due to large capital required at later stages. My ideas are not out of this world but they are quite competitive, however I don’t have the investment to invest in those ideas. Kickstarter and other crowd source funding schemes have prevented me from giving up on business altogether.


Today, I am confused between job and business pathways and where I should put my razor-sharp focus to.


Battle of pathways:


1.       Stable and consistent income

2.       Opportunities to increase that income by few hundreds of dollars every year or so

3.       Working hours are 9 – 5 generally

4.       Gain specific experience

5.       No financial investment required

6.       If I am made redundant, I can get another job and maybe jump to business

7.       Comparatively less stress, less overall management and easy work

8.       Guaranteed family time including paid holidays and sick leaves

9.       Company benefits if working for reputed firms

10.   Can be challenging and rewarding at times, depends on work type and firm, however in general it is doubtful

11.   It’s more like and wix type



1.       Variable income (very low in one month and very high in another)

2.       If the business picks up, could be financially independent in no time (no limits to how much you can make)

3.       No proper working hours, so really speaking working 24/7

4.       No limits to what knowledge and experience is required or could be gained

5.       Large investments are required to flourish the business

6.       If business crashes, I can go back into a different business but it would be close to impossible to be employed in a reputed firm (by into workforce)

7.       Comparatively large amounts of stress, high demands of organisation and management, overall hard work all year round

8.       Family will be compromised at some level even if we are very careful and on top of that no paid holidays or sick leaves

9.       Guaranteed that it will be challenging and rewarding

10.   It’s more like and coding your own website from scratch


All feedback and suggestions are welcomed.


Thank you,




Dear Farhan,

There are consultants in Silicon Valley who charge $10000 a meeting to discuss similar questions.  The reason they can charge such fees is that they have a strong network of connections that they can point a potential business person to.  I don't have that network, so I'll offer my views for free.  Also note that this is an academic forum and most people who post here have probably never worked outside of academia and will not be able to answer your questions.  I, on the other hand, have actually tried running a business and have a clearer idea about what's involved.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1) Start your business as early as you can.  Youth gives you the advantage of not having family obligations and the energy to work 16 hour days.

2) Unless you have existing capital, don't quit your day job.  Put your 8 hours into the day job and then 8 hours on your business.

3) Find a customer first and then build the product.  Look for extra money only when you need to grow.

4) Get a business partner to share the load.  It's lonely out there and you will be rejected more times that you can count.  A business partner can help in the initial stages.

5) Most importantly, work the phones and become an expert at selling.  Create a network of contacts and keep in touch with them regularly.  My rule of thumb is at least one new contact a week.

6) Finally, don't expect success overnight.  It might take five years or more to learn the art of creating and running a business.  Keep in mind that business is like any other field; you'll have to learn a lot but primarily about how to work with humans and human psychology.

-- Biswajit


It's obvious that you want to go in for business, but can't, for some reason or the other.

Biswajit as often here beat me to it, by listing the # 3) above. Also his # 2).

"Find a customer first and then build the product." That's what he said.

"The purpose of a business is to create a customer" [^]

[Now at least I can find some solace!]

Best [to you; to your business, to your boss in your day-job [hopefully you have one], to your day-job [ditto], to $\dots$. $dots$. You get the idea.]


PS: If I could be your customer, then, please, try to sell me on your idea---on what you could do for me... I mean, more profitably for myself than in your absence, that is. ... Best. ...

Biswajit and Ajit, first of all thank you very much for taking the time to post an answer, I really appreciate it.


I understand iMechanica may not the correct forum but if I haven't posted in this forum, I wouldn't have met you guys and I wouldn't have received such valuable information. Help is available to those who look for it, forum type didn't scare me :) By the way I do have a good research background too, topic for another day.


i am inclined towards a salaried job since I am only starting out and I am inexperienced in terms of engineering. However i am still trying to weigh my options here with SWOT analysis and what not. And also if I had 10K or 100K for consultation, I would have already started my business :) don't take me wrong, those consultations are worth it but only when you are a CEO of Apple wanting to join Microsoft or start a rival company, it's not relevant to us juniors :) but thanks for pointing it out to me.


No i am not telling/selling my ideas to anyone at this stage, sorry.


All points that you guys have mentioned are valid and valuable, I will consider them when taking the final decision, as for now, I am researching.


Have a fantastic day guys and thanks once again for your help!

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