So… You Think You Want to Start Your Own Business?
If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance you’re someone who’s thinking of ditching corporate America, becoming your own boss, embracing the sweet promise of freedom and not having to answer to anyone but yourself by becoming your own boss. No more begging for Wednesday off because your kid needs to go to the orthodontist or because the guy is coming to see why your refrigerator is making that horrific clanking noise.
Sounds really great right? Don’t get me wrong – starting and running my own therapy practice has been one of the most worthwhile experiences of my life. And I do love the fact that I can set my own schedule and, for the most part, call my own shots. I love that if an emergency strikes I don’t have to fear being fired because I needed to be in the ER with a loved one instead of ‘at the office.’
But with all of these perks of being a business owner come some often-harsh reality checks. Are you ready to hear some of those? Then read on.
Reality Check Number 1: Be Prepared to Take Your Work Home with You
Depending on what your current job is, you may often find that you work hard Monday – Friday, 9 – 5, and when you go home at night and on the weekends you essentially leave the job behind and enjoy time off with your friends and family. Being a business owner is hard, but it’s also rewarding.
When you work for yourself, there isn’t always a true break from work. It’s your business. If it succeeds, it’s because of you. If it fails, it’s because of you. From morning ‘til night you’ll find yourself thinking about your business, how to grow your business, how to deal with the challenges of your business. It’s beyond a fulltime job and when you’re just starting out, you won’t get a lot of time off.
Reality Check Number 2: You Have to be the One with the Answers
When someone else is your boss they are the ones who primarily must have the answers. It’s their business and their vision. Although you may be asked to explain your thinking and actions every once in a while, in a big picture sense, you simply need to take directive and implement orders, you know, be an employee.
When you’re the boss, you are the one others (if you have a staff) will look to to have the answers. It’s your vision that everyone is working toward. You have to be able to answer things like should you focus on an online businesses or a local one? What should your fees be? Will you offer mostly services or products? Sure, you can ask others, mentors, friends, family for advice and opinions, but ultimately you’re the one in charge. Having to be the one to make all of the important decisions is stressful and not everyone can handle that responsibility.
Reality Check Number 3: Your Income is Not Guaranteed
As an employee, you are guaranteed a check every week. You show up, do the work, cash your check. And because you have a guaranteed income, it is much easier for you to budget your life, plan for vacations and save money.
As a business owner, if you want to eat and put gas in your car, you have to generate an income. Your products and/or services may be stellar, but if you are having trouble selling them, you’re not going to make any money. Being a business owner is not just about being great at what you do, it’s being great at marketing what you do and making sure your offer is getting in front of enough eyeballs and the RIGHT eyeballs. If not, your business is in the red.
Reality Check Number 4: You’ll be Exhausted
When you work for someone else, you show up every day and do the job you were hired to do. Sure you may have to stay late once in a while, but for the most part, you have your work, you do it, no more, no less and you are successfully employed.
When you work for yourself, you not only do your own work, you do the work of the CEO, VP of Sales and Operations, the accounting team, the receptionist, the janitor, and everyone in between. Prepare to be absolutely exhausted until you can hire staff to help you out and take some of these tasks off of your plate. Even if you’re working from home online, you’ll still wear more hats to keep your business up and running than you would if you were someone else’s employee.
So, after reading these reality checks do you still want to start your own business? I’m certainly not trying to scare you, but I am trying to share what I’ve learned so you won’t have to find things out the hard way.
Being your own boss can be amazing. If you can get your business up and running and keep it in the black for the first few years, you have a shot at real success and can earn far more than you ever would working for someone else. There simply are no guarantees though.
Bottom Line Number 1: You’ve Got to Learn Business Skills
Now luckily I have a corporate business background, so I knew what I was getting myself into when I started my own business, but many of my clients, who are small biz owners, had nada a clue what running a business really entails. I always tell them, it doesn’t matter what you’re good at or how amazing your product or service is, you’ve got to understand some basic business concepts.
This doesn’t mean you have to sign up for business classes (although that wouldn’t hurt) but it does mean you have to learn. There are a ton of books out there by entrepreneurs and marketers. Read some. Sign up for some webinars. Ask for advice. Get a mentor. Do whatever you have to do to get a handle on what owning a business entails.
Bottom Line Number 3: You’ve Got to be Self-Disciplined
Even when you’re someone else’s employee it’s pretty easy to get away with playing online solitaire and check your Facebook page every half hour. Well let me tell you, it’s even easier when you have NO ONE breathing down you neck or looking over your shoulder. Feel like watching funny cat videos on Youtube all day? No problem? Want to shop for shoes just ‘cause? Go for it!
You have GOT to be a self-starter and self-disciplined if you’re going to be your own boss – period. You’ve got to manage your time extremely well and be accountable to yourself or you’ll simply fail.
There is a definite thrill and sense of pride at having started my own practice and watched it grow over the last few years. But having been through the highs, lows, hurdles and heartaches, I know that the journey is not for everyone. If you think you’re someone who can stomach the wild ride, I say educate yourself, get a mentor, and GO FOR IT!
Devon is Owner/Operator of BeMeBetter, formerly Herndon Consulting, a Personal Life Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Professional Clinical/Substance Abuse Counselor, experienced consultant, and nationally certified teacher. As a Life Coach, she focuses on supporting and encouraging achievement of personal best outcomes or goals in a specific challenging area. Her expertise, enthusiasm, energy and educational background serve to create a unique blend of services and techniques employed to help you reach your goals. For training, coaching, or counseling sessions, please contact her at 505.469.0779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.