Do you want to start a business? You get to be your own boss, set your own hours, and potentially even work from home. Doesn’t that sound great?
Most of the perks that you hear about, aren’t accurate. I know it sounds like an awesome idea, but there is a lot that you don’t know about starting a company. Before you make your decision, here are a few things you should know:
You don’t have one boss, you have multiple bosses
When you work at a 9 to 5 job you have one boss that you have to report to. Whatever your boss tells you to do, you do. You may not always like what he or she is telling you, but at least you only have one person (worse case 2 people) bossing you around.
If you decide to start your own business, every one of your customers is a boss. If you think one boss is bad, think about having 100. Whatever they want, you have to do. If you don’t, your bosses (customers) won’t be happy, which means you won’t be in business much longer.
You don’t get to set your own hours
You can’t always choose your own hours or get to work from home. Business is all about making money, so you have to do whatever it takes to succeed. If that means you have to answer calls in the middle of the night, then so be it.
For example, when I had my consulting agency people thought it was pretty cool that I started work at around 10 or 11 in the morning. Boy, where they wrong! In many cases I worked late because I got calls from Germany in the middle of the night and then I had to work early because I got calls from the New York. Or even worse, if my client in Germany wanted to see me, I had to hop on a flight, spend 24 hours in Germany, and then fly back home.
What a great way to travel.
Your business will impact your personal life
Could you go weeks without seeing your wife or kids?
Could you go months without seeing or talking to your friends?
There is no way you can keep your business and personal life separate. Your business will impact how much time you can spend with your family and friends. If you aren’t willing to make a sacrifice, then you are going to have a tough road ahead of you.
And even if you are willing to make the sacrifice, is your family ready to make it as well? Because if they aren’t, you may ended up losing them.
The odds are against you
You are hearing all of these great stories, but are you hearing about all of the failures? I don’t know what the exact odds of succeeding are, but I’ll bet you for every Facebook there are millions of failures. You never hear about these failures because no one likes talking about how they failed, but instead they only like to brag about how successful they are.
I know what you are thinking though.
But Neil, look at people like Evan Williams. Not only was he the founder of Blogger, but he also founded Twitter. If people like him can be successful twice, why can’t I be successful just once?
Yes Evan is very successful, but you aren’t him. The odds of any entrepreneur succeeding more than once is very low. A lot lower than succeeding once.
When it rains, it pours
Everything may look great when you are first starting your business, but believe me, a lot of things will go wrong. And when things go wrong, it will probably be your luckily day because more things will end up going wrong.
You can’t predict the future or control everything. All you can do is try your best, which in many cases won’t be enough. This is one of the main reasons that will cause you to stress out, lose a lot of your hair like me, and maybe even get depressed at times.
This happens to all entrepreneurs, and it can be devastating. For example, I just recently met an entrepreneur who had a company that was profiting 15 to 20 million a year. But after we went into this economic downturn, he had no choice but to sell the company and walk away with nothing.
You’ll have to become an asshole
I know you don’t want to be that mean guy, but sooner or later you will have to. Just think about when you have to fire someone. It may seem easy at first, but after you have worked with that individual for a few years and they become your friend, it won’t be easy to let them go.
Trust me, you’ll feel like an asshole!
And firing someone isn’t the worst thing you’ll have to do. Every business has it’s own set of problems; you just have to be willing to lay down the law, when the time is right. It won’t feel right, but that’s life.
Your lifestyle is going to change
If your company does well, you will be living the life of the rich and famous. But the chances of it doing well aren’t so hot.
When you first start your company, you are going to have to make sacrifices. For example, when I started my first company this meant that I couldn’t do anything that cost money because I didn’t have any. I had to work at a theme park, picking up trash and cleaning restrooms, so that I could have enough money to keep my business a float.
Your lifestyle can get back to normal, but it maybe years before that happens. Or even worse, if things don’t go the way you are planning, it may never go back to how it was before.
Success isn’t easy to come by
I personally don’t think I am successful yet, but you may think otherwise. You may look at me and say that you want my life.
Yes from an outside perspective I have done well at a young age, but it took me years to get here. I am now 24 years old and have been creating businesses since I was 16. 8 years is a long time to put into something and you probably never hear how I struggled for the first 3 to 4 years. It doesn’t matter if I was making tons of money because at the end of the day I was in debt around 1 million dollars.
If you are going to start a business you have to be willing to pay your dues. Don’t expect things to look good within a few years. Even if you are starting to make good money, you shouldn’t get greedy by taking a high salary. Consider the bigger picture and reinvest that money back into the company.
By no means am I trying to tell you that you shouldn’t start a business. But before you pull the trigger, you need to consider all the negative aspects and not just think positive.
With me, I got lucky. I started a business at a young age (I didn’t have a family to worry about), my parents took care of all of my bills, and I knew that I could always live at home.
Now on the other hand if you aren’t in the situation I was in when I was 16, your risk of starting a business is much higher. And if you can live with that… well… that’s what makes you a true entrepreneur.