What It Takes to Be a Small Business Owner

Man hanging open sign on door (Photo: Jupiterimages Getty Images/BananaStock RF)
Man hanging open sign on door
(Photo: Jupiterimages Getty Images/BananaStock RF)

Q: Steve, I get that you are all about the “joys of small business,” but one thing I never considered — and the thing I don’t think people mention often enough — is just how much work is involved when you own a business. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like being my own boss, but sometimes I miss the days of being an employee and goofing off or calling in sick. —Rich

A: I hear you, brother.

Like anything in life, being an entrepreneur has its ups and downs, it’s good and bad points. I happen to think the good far outweighs the bad, but not a few people disagree or learn about the bad the hard way.

Sad story: A few years ago, a lawyer I know had to leave her hometown where she had lived most of her life and move cross country for family reasons. And because she loved her solo practice and the flexibility it afforded her as a mother, and since she is smart and confident, she decided to re-start her solo practice in the new city, thinking it would not be too difficult.

But it proved to be much more challenging than she ever thought.

Back here, in her hometown where she knew everyone, clients were not hard to come by. In the new city however, she had a lot fewer contacts and even fewer potential clients. And given that back here she had not really had to work too hard to get business, she never really learned about marketing, so that too was new.

Eventually, between the Not-So-Great Recession and the challenges of starting from scratch, she finally had to go to work for someone else.

One reason people start their own business is that they want all of the perks that come with being their own boss. The problem is, they may not be prepared for the “everything else” that being their own boss entails. Oh sure, it is easy to wax rhapsodic about the life of the entrepreneur, and you bet, I am more guilty than most of doing that: “Isn’t the independence great? Creating something from nothing is a thrill!” But . . .

To get those benefits, you have to be willing to pay the price.

What price is that, you ask?

Hard work: One thing I know about small business owners is that they usually put in a lot of time into their venture, way more than the standard 40-hour work week. They (mostly) do so willingly because the business is their baby, and as we all know, raising a baby takes time and commitment.

But it sure does get tiring sometimes, especially when your baby is crying and you don’t get enough sleep.

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Source: USA Today | Steve Strauss

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