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Our culture glamorizes entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are celebrities on par with LeBron James and Taylor Swift. If you watch Shark Tank, you leave with the irrepressible urge to start a business yourself. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to call the shots, make your own hours and choose which clients to take on? As a boss myself, I can tell you that those are great things.
Yes, owning a business is awesome. But don’t jump in blindly. Being the boss has a ton of challenges, and because of these difficulties, owning a business is not for everyone. Here are 10 downsides to owning your own business. Before you jump in, ask yourself if your nerves are up for these challenges.
1. It forces you to expand your skill set and comfort zone.
Running a business forces you to expand your skill set beyond your comfort zone. Even if you are outsourcing, you have to have a basic understanding of what you’re looking for. It makes you go places where you previously felt you didn’t belong. One example is asking for money or asking for advice. Most people don’t need to convince others to fund their careers. Your job does that following the interview. However, as an entrepreneur, I’ve had to focus on funding, hiring, searching up vendors, mapping out IT and database requirements, new business development, financials and taxation strategies — the list goes on and on.
2. You face decision fatigue.
As a founder, you take on everything yourself: taxes, record keeping, health insurance, scheduling, strategic planning, marketing, execution, social media and more. If you make a mistake, there’s no one to blame but yourself.
Even if you hire subcontractors or employees, there are so many decisions to make on a daily basis. This goes well beyond the countless decisions we all have to make in everyday life, so it can sometimes feel compounded. In order to counteract this, you have to remind yourself about your “why” and take time for self-care.
3. Your employees rely on you to keep the business going.
You will have the constant awareness that your personal and financial health and the livelihood of your employees rely entirely on your ability to keep the business going, growing and profitable. Depending on the stage of your business and the systems you have in place, you are the driver of the company for all intents and purposes. This burden is both an incredible responsibility and opportunity.
4. One mistake and your business can come crashing down around you.
You’re always exposed — lose a couple of clients, hire the wrong person, fire off an angry email, and your business can come crashing down around you. In spite of the power you have to create your own environment, you’re still beholden to the realities of budgets, problem clients and difficult employees. In addition, every risk that you take on is magnified because it can make or break the future of your business.
Additionally, you rarely get a vacation where you can disconnect entirely. This is because you’ll always feel the need to check in, get updates and put out fires, even when you’re away.
5. Your employees can be a big liability.
Employees can be a big liability. Many can be wonderful, but some are not. As an example, I have a colleague who owned a successful day spa for several years. In the end, she had to close her business due to fraudulent activity from her spa manager while she was out of state caring for a dying parent. My colleague trusted her manager to run the business the way she asked; instead, the employee stole over $20,000 and caused irreparable damage.
6. Customers are essentially your bosses.
Even when you are the boss, you still have many bosses that can demand long hours. Instead of having one boss like in the corporate world, now all of your customers are essentially your bosses. You have to work extra hard to make them happy, which often requires being at their beck and call. You trade in one boss for 100 bosses.
7. You work more hours than you would working for someone else.
Many traditional employees can work 9 to 5 – a 40-hour work week. But when you are the boss, you work many more hours than you would working for someone else. I’ve gotten used to working from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. straight. Sometimes, it’s even hard to step away for a quick lunch break.
8. You get used to sleepless nights.
As an employee, you can come home relax and unwind. But when you are the boss, you may have many sleepless nights. You may stay up with fear of client drought or the fear that you have no real guarantee of income until you sell and deliver something of value.
9. There is a risk of not getting paid.
When you are an employee, your contract usually promises that you will get paid. But when you are an entrepreneur, you always run the risk of not getting paid — even if you deliver the order. You have taken on all the risk yourself and don’t know when you will become profitable.
10. You face a constant state of nerves, tension and anxiety.
Aside from the actual paycheck, you lose the peace of mind that comes with the reliability of a steady paycheck. This can often create a constant state of nerves, tension and anxiety.
I love being a founder and I have learned to live with these liabilities. For me, the freedom to make my own choices and manifest my own vision is well worth the price of these 10 discomforts. But this price may be too high for some. Before you jump in, know what you are getting yourself into.
December 21, 2018 at 08:56AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs