One thing I realized in reading Carol Roth’s The Entrepreneur Equation is that people really have some misconceptions about what it means to run a business. It’s not working 4 hour weeks, with no stress and the ability to take vacations without worrying about the business (for most of us). Here’s where people go wrong in their thinking:
1. I’ll Be My Own Boss
Yes, you’ll run your company, but “being your own boss” probably means you think you can do essentially whatever you want. Beer Mondays? Maybe. Until you realize the extreme cost and the fact that employees are drunk rather than working when you’re paying them. Flip Flop Fridays? That could work…unless you have potential clients in the office who are turned off by your programmer’s hammertoes.
You answer to far more people than you’d expect as an entrepreneur. You have to keep your employees happy. Maintain good relationships with vendors. And, oh yea, keep your customers coming back. That’s a lot of responsibility.
2. I’ll Get Rich Quick!
If it sounds too easy to be true, it is. Most entrepreneurs don’t get rich quick, if at all. When you read about the latest startup in Entrepreneur or Inc Magazine, what you’re not seeing is the backstory and how it took years and a lot of money to become the next big thing. It’s a travesty that the media covering small businesses focuses on the glitz and not the dirt and hard work that in reality are a necessity for any business.
3. I’ll Do More of What I Love
I’m a writer by nature. And yes, I do write through my marketing company. But I also manage our accounting, look for new work, manage client relationships and market the business. If you want to start a business because you love doing X, know that you may actually do little to none of it. That’s just how it goes. You’ll be hiring other people to do it for you, and handling the less fun parts of running a business.
4. I Can Work as Little as I Like
I always say businesses are like newborns. You’ll lose a lot of sleep at first, worrying and working. They require constant attention, and they’ll eat up all your thinking. You’ll find it difficult to relax, at least the first year. It’s a good thing to know ahead of time, rather than find out too late to do anything about it!
5. I Can Do It Better Than My Boss
If you’re young and impetuous (or older and stubborn), you likely think you can do a better job running a company than your boss. Sometimes that’s true, but not always. What happens when you start your own company is that you start to have an appreciation for exactly how much is involved in running a business. It’s not as easy as barking out orders and signing checks. Like tightrope walking, it’s harder than it looks (actually, that looks pretty hard to me!).