The Worst and Best Businesses I’ve Worked for, By Revenue
I’ve worked a lot of jobs in my life. Most of the companies I worked for earned “best in…” awards for their industries.
Not accounting for big-box companies like Starbucks, here are the best and worst industries I’ve worked in, by revenue.
Criteria: each company has less than 100 employees.
Let’s just rip this bandaid off. This one hurts because it was the one I wanted to succeed the most.
I studied for decades to be a martial arts instructor. Have you ever seen Netflix’s Iron Fist? The most realistic thing about that show was how the martial arts teacher, Colleen Wing, was broke as a joke and hit the pavement every day trying to conjure new students out of a hat.
While teaching martial arts was easily the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had, the only successful martial arts schools I’ve seen, when talking in terms of revenue, sacrificed everything that made the industry fulfilling to make money. The industry term for such places is “McDojo” — high sales, low artistic or martial value.
But the joy of teaching…my God! Each new student was a mold, and when they perfectly executed a technique after hours of practice…it almost made the lack of money worth it.
I would have done it the rest of my life if I didn’t have a family to provide for.
On the flip side, this was a job I hoped would be super fulfilling but ended up being one of the worst places I’ve ever worked.
It’s also the job that most people envy me for. Weird. I met many celebrities, got hit on by porn stars, and raked in the dough like nobody's business. It was horrible!
I suppose the fulfilling work of teaching martial arts led naturally to me becoming a bouncer at a nightclub. I worked for the premiere nightclub in Las Vegas. The place was a gold mine! At closing time, people would buy $10,000 bottles just to keep the club open for an extra fifteen minutes.
This was the least fulfilling places I’ve worked. Everyone was fake, lying and pretending to like me to get in the door. Inside, guys walked around grabbing girls like it was a sport. The bosses were total douche lords.
The cocktail waitresses easily covered $150k a year, but with their modeling contracts, they were like professional actresses, eating grapefruit for dinner, lest they lose their well-paying job.
Nothing about working at this place felt like it improved my life. Looking at the people I worked for, depression and anxiety were rampant. But they made a lot of money.
A perfect yin-yang scenario
Interestingly, the most fulfilling job I’ve held made the least money, and the one that made the most scratch was a terrible work environment.
The lesson I learned: enjoy the journey, but money is like oxygen: when you need it, there aren’t many substitutes. Find a balance.
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