It’s true: starting a business can be a risky proposition. There are plenty of things that can go wrong — and when they do, you’ve got no one to blame except yourself.
But for me, and for many people like me, the benefits of working for yourself far outweigh the risks. It’s true that you’re going it alone, but you’re also making your own future.
Anyone can spell out the many reasons why starting a business is risky, but I want to tell you my top 10 reasons why it’s absolutely worth it:
Work according to your own schedule
I love being able to take my kids to school in the morning. It’s one of my favorite things about working for myself. I love not having to request vacation time, not having to explain why I took a long lunch or needed to go to the dentist in the middle of the day, or why I’m done at 4pm because my brain is fried. I also love being able to wake up early and get right to work if I have a brilliant idea, or work after the kids have gone to bed without trucking off to the office.
Working from anywhere
A big perk of owning your own business in these heady digital days is the ability to pick up and work anywhere you like. If you have a laptop and an Internet connection, you can accomplish a lot. This is amazing if you dream of a jet-setting lifestyle working on a beach in Bali or a chalet in the Swiss Alps, but it has more practical considerations, too. A parent can work from the sidelines of the football pitch or by the pool in the summer while the kids play. A member of my team was able to pick up her business at a moment’s notice and fly home to be with her family when her father’s cancer returned without her clients being impacted. That sort of flexibility can be priceless.
No office politics and games to play
Imagine being able to pick and choose exactly who you want to work with. No more dealing with Creepy Dave in accounting or Micromanage Marie in HR. You don’t have to worry about who you’re going to offend if you only invite part of the staff to a meeting or don’t bring gluten-free treats for the break room. No more wondering what Dwight said about you behind your back or whether somebody stole your parking space. Don’t you feel better just thinking about it?
These days, many positions are distilled down into their component parts. All room for creativity is eliminated in favour of predictability. But where’s the fun in that? Being in business for yourself allows you to exercise your creative muscles in ways you might never have dreamed. Even if your business is something fact-based, like accounting, you still have room for creativity in how you market yourself, how you pitch to new customers, where and how you network, and so on. Having that kind of outlet can be incredibly fulfilling.
Making all key decisions
When you’re a cog in the corporate machine, you can disagree with decisions all you want, but you’re still expected to keep right on turning. When you own your own business, you have the freedom and flexibility to do things differently. If you’ve been talking for years about how you’d do it if you were in charge, this is your chance to give it a try.
Getting paid for what you are worth
When you work for a company, your earning potential is often capped — whether literally or figuratively. Sometimes companies have protocols that dictate the exact salary range for a position, and managers aren’t able to pay more. Sometimes there is simply a mental stigma attached to a position that defines what a person “should” earn. Either way, those limitations don’t exist when you own your own company. Depending on your field and how you develop the business, your earning potential is practically limitless.
Building an asset
If you do it well, a business is an asset, something that you could potentially sell someday. When you’re working for someone else, you’re spending years of your life helping someone else build an asset. And they owe you nothing when they decide to cash it in. Job security is a myth these days; unless you have tenure at a university, anything could happen. You might as well be building an asset for yourself.
Doing the things you love
Whatever your business, something drew you to it originally. But maybe things have evolved at your current position so that you’re doing less and less of the work you love and more and more other stuff. The great thing about working for yourself is that you can focus on the things you truly love. I heard an interview recently with a woman who had a very successful six-figure career in general management, but she was tired of all the travel and the politics, so she became a business coach to get back to what she loved.
Being able to say no
Have you ever wished you could just say “No thanks,” and pass on a project your boss just handed you? Well, that’s likely to get you fired pretty quickly. But it’s a different story when you’re the boss. You get to decide which projects to take on, which clients to work with, and which ones get a polite “No, thank you.”
If there’s one thing no one can argue about owning a business, it’s that it’s never boring. No matter what your field, you’re doing something different every day. New challenges crop up demanding new solutions. You find you need to learn a new skill — marketing or sales or social media or graphic design or copywriting — and maybe you love it. Maybe not. But owning a business is never just about making widgets. And that’s what makes it amazing.
There’s a saying that going into business is a lot like going into therapy: you learn a lot about yourself that you might never otherwise know. For me, it’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and one I would never trade for a “day job” again.
Even if my current business were to fail miserably at some point in the future, I think I would start over, start again. Because once you get a taste of the freedom that entrepreneurship offers, it’s almost impossible to go back.
Over to you – what do you find most rewarding about being your own boss?