Freedom and control are common factors that motivate people to leave traditional employment to start a new business. If you yearn for the opportunity to be in charge, set your own hours and design your daily activities, prepare yourself for some of the harsh realities of finding entrepreneurial success. Here are a few key things to consider as you evaluate whether starting your own company is the right move.
The Long Hours
True, you should be able to control your hours as a business owner. However, entrepreneurs who desire to generate revenue and profit work almost always work more hours than they had before. In fact, your business owns you, you don’t own your time. In a small business where you play a pivotal operational role, the amount of time and effort you put in directly impacts how much money you make. If you employ any staff, your work ethic sets the tone for the company. It is hard to earn the respect and dedication of your team if you clock in at 9:00 a.m., clock out at 5:00 p.m., and take a two-hour lunch break each day. This point is especially true in a start-up environment where you rely on workers to go above and beyond the traditional eight-hour day as well.
Problems Must Be Solved
You can't control when problems arise that demand your attention. Sure, you have the freedom to pretend they don't exist, or that someone else will handle them. However, your customers and employees will look to the boss during times of stress or uncertainty for an answer. If a major distributor experiences a delay, for instance, you may need to travel to reassure ensure a positive experience for your customers. Power outages, technology malfunctions, and equipment breakdowns are a few of the other problems that could demand attention and prevent you from getting to the golf course or the beach.
Money and Freedom Go Hand-in-Hand
Kevin O'Leary, of "Shark Tank" fame, often says, "Money equals freedom." In his case, he has enough money to freely choose which companies and investments to spend his time on. In the case of a new business owner, true freedom typically only comes when you go through the pains and frustrations of building up a profitable enterprise. This process usually takes three to fours years, until your business can afford to pay you a regular salary. If you want the freedom to make decisions on how to spend your time, plan to work harder and smarter on your own than you would as an employee.
The Owner's Job is Overwhelming
Many people leave employment to get out of a boring, monotonous position. The logic is that you can design your own activities and focus on a diverse mix of things you enjoy as a small-business owner. In reality, as start-up business, you are taking on 10-14 jobs at once, so you will often spend hours trying to figure out which task to take on first each business day. Making products, setting up your website, generating leads, shipping packages are among the common roles of a start-up owner. Until you build up your business, and can add staff, it is common to take on many tasks that you intend to get away from once you build up your business.
The rewards of running your own small business often far exceeds anything you could achieve as an employee. However, the process to earn those rewards are typically much harder than you thought. Plan to work hard for years, tackle major problems, and carry out many activities everyday without complaining.
Melinda is a founder and president of Quintessence Group, an award-winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, serving Fortune 500 brands who target small businesses.