At some point every entrepeneur said to themselves, “I have a great idea!” But ALL small business owners also said, “I want to work for MYSELF!” In the middle are people like me who have a small business and also have to be constantly creating and thinking. There is this funny idea about what working for yourself is and then there is reality. And the reality is often not glamorous at all.
So, I offer you a few truths about working for yourself and what it really looks like.
Idea: I will be able to set my own hours!!
Truth: You absolutely set your own hours! And those hours are long, constant and you are never really “off work.” You will work on your laptop while watching TV at night, long after your “work day” ended. You will answer emails on your phone while sitting in the doctors office and pretty much be on duty any hours that you aren’t asleep. Setting good boundaries help, but the reality is that owning a small business and running it yourself means that you are working more often than not.
Idea: I will be my own boss!!!! AWESOME!
Truth: You will be your own boss… And that means you will know when YOU are lying about calling in sick to work. This means that you have to be a self starter and that is not something everyone is. Not everyone is meant to work for themselves. I ran a previous business in an unrelated field and discovered that I just couldn’t get myself motivated to stay with it. Not everyone is meant to be their own boss. You have to love what you do, but you also have to be able to hold yourself accountable. I do much better now with TSS than before, but it wasn’t a lack of passion, it was just not the right fit.
Truth: Owning your own business is very rewarding, but it’s A LOT of hard work. If you aren’t working on your product, you are filling and shipping orders or manning your kiosk. If you aren’t doing those things, then you are creating new designs, taking product photographs, doing website maintenance, researching business related things, planning a sale, promoting your products, and the list just goes on and on. It HAS to be a labor of love because fun is a relative term.
Idea: It will be so great to make money doing something I love!
Truth: It is ABSOLUTELY great to make money doing something you love. BUT, and it’s a big BUT, you won’t make money at first. It’s likely you will post a loss for the first few years. Every penny you make will go straight back into the business at first (and for a while), which means you will probably not draw a paycheck even if you are drawing a profit. That’s just the cold hard truth. You have to cover what you invested, cover new expenses such as ordering more supplies or paying employees, and you have to plan for the future. This all means that all those sales and dollar signs are adding up to money in the bank, but not in the pocket. Keep at it, but very few businesses make it rich right away.
I won’t discourage people from wanting to work from home, work for themselves or run a small business. Heck, I love it. I have my days that I’m not motivated and it’s hard when I get sick because there is no one there to pick up the slack, but all the hard work is worth it if you love it. But it’s not nearly as glamorous on paper as it sounds in your head.