This is the continuation of an article from two weeks ago titled 5 Reasons Why I Love Being a Business Owner. I promised at the end of that article to share some thoughts on the downsides of business ownership. So here we go.
A year or two before I started Hale Financial, I came across an article with what I thought was the greatest (and most terrifying) headline ever: “Forget Starting a Business, Kid. Just Go Work for a Company.” The author went on to explain all the horrible things he experienced when starting a company and why he’d never do it again.
I obviously didn’t abandon my plans, but every would-be business owner needs to make sure they’re committed, going in with eyes wide open, and willing to acknowledge the possibility of failure.
Here are my 5 reasons why you should reconsider being a business owner.
1. 8AM to 5PM? More like 5AM to 8PM
If you’re like most Americans, the cozy job you may be thinking of leaving typically demands 40 hours a week. Not so as a business owner. Your work can easily take 60 hours per week or more. Working evenings and Saturdays is not uncommon for me. I love owning my business, but it can take some strength of will to crack open my laptop at 9PM to send some emails when I’d rather watch a couple Seinfeld reruns.
There will be days when you’ll miss that old cozy job. Recently I’ve had some opportunities to accept full-time employment elsewhere. Doing so would mean a drastic cut in time to commit to Hale Financial Solutions so I’ve taken a pass, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think twice about it. A steady schedule, consistent paycheck and company benefits sound very appealing, especially when you’re up late working on your business.
2. Being your own boss means you have to, like...actually be a boss
I hear this one a lot. “I’d love to be my own boss!” We all know that being your own boss means you set the terms, the hours worked, the time you arrive and leave, the goals and benchmarks you’re trying to reach. It’s great, because you are setting the expectations for YOU.
The problem is the door is now open to going easy on yourself. There’s no outside influence pushing you to achieve, making you uncomfortable. There’s no “other voice” with a different perspective than yours, with different experiences. It’s just you. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself, but you need to make sure you’re being held accountable for your business’s progress.
I try to keep myself accountable in a couple of ways. First, I have a monthly Activity Tracker. It’s a simple spreadsheet really, but I use it to track the “Key Performance Indicators” (KPIs) that are most important to my future success. Things like how many presentations I give, how many networking events I attend, or how many face-to-face prospect meetings I hold. I’m also part of an accountability group with other financial advisors where I check in with real-life people who expect me to keep my commitments.
3. You won’t get paid much for a long time
I took my first paycheck from Hale Financial Solutions in February...19 months after my business started. It felt amazing, but it took a lot of work and time to get there. Plus, that paycheck was simply supplementing my other income. It wasn’t enough to pay all my family’s monthly bills. Since starting Hale Financial Solutions, I’ve had another job on the side, working anywhere from 10 to 30 hours per week.
When starting a business you need to be impatient for growth but patient for income. Most of the money my business earns is rolled back into my business--for advertising, equipment, supporting services, travel, education, etc. Skipping business investments that lead to growth in order to take income could sabotage what I’m trying to build.
Being a business owner means being OK with the idea of waiting to take some earnings for yourself. That can be hard if you’re not willing to scrape by, have a second job, or at least earn some extra income on the side.
4. The buck stops here
In part one of this article series, I wrote about how great it feels that every dollar I earn is earned because of my work. The antithesis of that is if I didn’t earn a dollar, it’s my fault. Every missed client opportunity, every botched marketing campaign, every lost customer is on me and no one else. You can try to brush aside failures (yes, I do believe short-term failure is expected and healthy), but they have a tendency to nag at you.
I thought I knew exactly what Hale Financial Solutions was going to be when I started it. Since then, nearly two years ago, I’ve pivoted the business in a new direction multiple times. Here’s a simple illustration.
I’m very happy with the direction Hale Financial Solutions is moving in, but each pivot was also a setback. Those setbacks are on you, Mr. and Mrs. Business Owner.
5. Another spinning plate to balance
Owning your own business is just one more plate to balance. Actually, it will usually feel like several more plates, since in the early months of business you’ll often be the salesman, marketer, receptionist, and office manager, in addition to the owner.
You’ll need to find ways to balance the demands of your business with the other aspects of your busy life. In addition to owning Hale Financial Solutions, I’m also
- A husband and father (who commits to his family to be home by 5PM every weekday)
- An employee of a local business, working 10-30 hours per week
- A co-owner of a website business
- A volunteer in my local church
- A participant and/or board member of three local non-profits
Your life probably looks similar. Owning a business certainly doesn’t make life any easier or less busy. It’s truly a joy and tremendously satisfying, but be prepared for what you’re getting into.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this two part business ownership series. If you’d like help talking through the pros and cons of starting your own business (or if you’re a business owner needing a shoulder to cry on), feel free to get in touch.