So, fess up. You've been gazing over the career fence from your place on the job side and finding the grass greener on the entrepreneurial side. You’ve been having those "be your own boss" dreams again, haven't you?
Well, if you've always worked for someone else, the grass on the other side does have some major advantages. However, it's not quite as green as it may seem.
Starting a business for the first time is both exciting and anxiety producing. If you're thinking about jumping the fence and flexing your entrepreneurial muscles, make sure you separate the facts from the fiction.
Fiction: You'll be the boss.
Fact: What you'll really be is the owner of your business. Not the boss. While you'll no longer have a traditional boss to answer to, you will have many mini-bosses to answer to. As a small business owner, your client will now become your "boss."
Fiction: Finally, you'll get paid what you're worth.
Fact: You can only charge what the market will bear. No matter how good you are, no one will pay more for something if they can get it for less.
Fact: It takes time to build a business. Before you quit your day job, make sure you have enough in savings to sustain you and your business through the first three years of your startup. It may take up to five years for you to see the kind of financial payoff you're expecting.
Fiction: You won't have to work as hard.
Fact: You'll probably work harder. When most people start their own business, they typically work 60 to 80 hours a week. The difference is that, when you're working for yourself, it's more rewarding and satisfying. It's much different staying up until 2 a.m. making your business plan than staying up to 2 a.m. getting your boss's project completed. When the immediate rewards are all yours to reap, working hard feels much better.
Fiction: For once you get to do only what you want and like to do.
Fact: Boy, wouldn't that be nice? However, it never really works out that way. Many new business owners find themselves doing things they don't enjoy doing because they can't afford to hire someone else to help. Yet, somehow it seems more palatable because no one else is telling
them that they have to do these things. They are choosing to do or not to do. And that's what makes the difference.
Fiction: You'll be free!
Fact: No, but you'll be freer. Your clients and the tasks that must get done will dictate a lot of your schedule. However, in general, you will be much freer working for yourself than working for someone else. Many times when I’ve gotten up early to finish a writing project, I've thought, "If someone else were making me work these kinds of hours, I'd be irate." When it's you, it's different.
Fiction: You'll make a profit in your first year.
Fact: Starting a business isn’t a get-rich-quick endeavor. It can take up to three years before your business sees a profit. That's three years of hard work and sustained effort. The startup stage is not for the timid. It takes years of working hard and telling people about your company and your product before you can claim any sort of foothold on your market share.
Fiction: As soon as CNBC or Oprah interviews you, you've made it.
Fact: Sure, this kind of exposure will net you an increase in sales. However, it doesn't mean you've made it. Small business owners who've had national coverage cannot afford to be lulled into the kind of false security that national attention brings. John Q. Public has a very short memory and attention span. While your one big hit might generate great sales in the short term, you can never sit back and rest.
Looking over the fence and thinking about starting up a business is what the American dream is all about. Taking charge, making money and creating success are what excite the inner entrepreneur in us all. Yet, if you're a greenhorn and thinking about jumping the job fence to flex your entrepreneurial muscles, make sure you separate out these seven facts from fiction. That way, you'll be ready for all the rewards -- and all the challenges -- of being a small business owner.
Dr. Susan L. Reid is a business coach and consultant for entrepreneurial women starting businesses. She is the award-winning author of “Discovering Your Inner Samurai: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Journey to Business Success,” and has a free chapter PDF of her most popular chapter: “Doing What You Love: Multiple Streams of Passion” for those who want see how persistence, patience and practice can really pay off.