Just the sound of that phrase conjures up pictures in the mind of the entrepreneur. Freedom. Money. Fulfillment. Starting your own business is an opportunity available to millions in the great nation of America in which we live, but with every opportunity there come liabilities. As wise business people, we are compelled to consider the advantages… and disadvantages, of a start up business.
To begin, let’s look at the pros.
1. Freedom. Is there anything more valuable than freedom? Since the presence of freedom allows for all the other benefits we find in life, it stands to reason freedom would have to be at the top of the list of pros for starting your own business. If you can pick your own trade or service, do it in the manner in which you choose (with few limitations), do it for as long as you choose, and then sell that business to someone else when you choose… you have freedom, and freedom is not only the platform from which all other business benefits spring from, it is the greatest single benefit.
Freedom to make your own choices, work when you want to, vacation when you want to… what price freedom?
2. Money. More money has been made and can be made by self-directed enterprise than any other way of work. If you need proof of this, look to history. Read stories of entrepreneurs. You can go back hundreds of years, or you can look to your parent’s generation. Either way, you will find the fortunes of this country have been built on the foundation of small business. There are massive fortunes in big business, to be sure, but every big business began as a small business; one or several individuals identifying needs and wants and seeking out ways to fill those needs and wants in a profitable manner. You may be able to secure a decent salary at a good company, but the money you can make in private enterprise dwarfs it many times over.
3. Fulfillment. Fulfillment is harder to define than the other more tangible aspects of business enterprise. While running a business can bring huge financial rewards, deeper and more meaningful are the personal development gains that come from it. Whether or not one makes a lot of money, if he or she can experience personal development and growth as a result of their business venture, they have profited. Some entrepreneurs find ways to build a lifestyle business, based upon what they love most and are talented at doing. Others find the very process of building a company of any kind brings out qualities in themselves they were not even aware of.
Starting your own business is a journey of personal fulfillment. There is more satisfaction in creating your own enterprise than in developing someone else’s, because your business is of you, and about you, and for you.
Now, we take a look at some cons, the downsides to starting your own business.
1. Time. The precious, irreplaceable commodity of time. There is an overabundance of time shortage, and it’s never gonna change. Unfortunately, starting your own business requires lots of time: time to create the perfect plan, time to investigate the market, time to build relationships with suppliers and subcontractors and affiliates, time to find workers and employees, time to market your goods…
When something takes time from your life, it means something (or someone) else is not getting it. This aspect of starting your own business keeps many people out of the venture. It’s a high cost to pay.
2. Stress. Working for someone else can bring on plenty of stress: meeting the boss’s expectations, dealing with annoying co-workers, following someone else’s schedule for you. All of these and more are a reality to people every day in the workforce. But the stress of starting your own business and running it successfully can be hellish. When you are boss, you pay the bills, you pay the suppliers, you pay the fees, and you have to make sure YOU get paid so you can pay everyone else. It isn’t easy.
Stress is as much a part of starting your own business as is the freedom you gain. In life, there’s no having your cake and eating it too. To have the benefits, one must be willing to deal with the costs.
3. Insecurity. The advantages of small business are many, but security is not one of them. Why? The lack of security is a cost you pay to gain a benefit: adventure (aka freedom). I have yet to find anything in life where you have adventure and security at the same time.
Think about it. When all is set, and every plan fulfilled, and every debt paid, and every loose end secured, where is the adventure? When we are medicated, fed, and comfortable, we are BORED. Yes, its true, whether people admit it or not. There is no adventure in having everything perfect and secure.
You can see starting your own business creates a lack of security that a solid position at another company might not. When you are the captain, you know that if you don’t perform and make it happen, the ship goes down. And no one else will plug the hole and make it float again. It’s on your shoulders alone. That lack of security is a cost to pay when having your own business.
Starting your own business has great benefits, and great costs. People throughout history have scaled the rocky cliffs of challenge and difficulty and reached the summit of business success. This is capitalism, and it rests upon the willingness of entrepreneurs. You can be a part of this fulfilling adventure but you must weigh the pros against the cons to make sure you consider the payoff – worth the payout.
Rhett Kniep is a licensed real estate business broker and building contractor. For over a decade he has successfully worked in the real estate investment business, buying and rehabbing and selling investment homes, commercial real estate, and businesses. He enjoys sharing his learned insights in business sales and development with others.