I’m not gonna lie. I love being in business for myself. I get to choose the kinds of projects I work on. I get to enjoy random mornings off to go park skating. But damn, is it hard being a businesswoman. And it’s not just the work. It’s the whole lifestyle.
I’m excited whenever I hear a friend or an acquaintance who tells me they want to take the leap into business. But I’m also worried. Being in business for yourself is not for the faint of heart. Matter a fact, it might not be for sane, rational people to begin with. Here are my 10 reasons why:
1). Being Your Own Boss Sucks
The first five days you decide not to work because “you’re the boss” are wonderful. Then you realize how much work piled up because you decided to go snowboarding and you swear you’ll never take another day off again. Suddenly, you find yourself envying the days where all you had to do was what somebody else told you to do.
Getting after yourself requires alarm clocks, wallpapers made of post-it notes, pop-up email reminders, and saying no to too many of your friends who want to hang out. You try giving yourself a pep-talk to file papers and email cold leads. You didn’t listen when you had a boss. Now you are the boss. And your boss job sucks.
2). Uncle Sam Take A Big Cut--and it’s bigger than when you’re employed
If you’ve been employed your whole life, self-employment taxes hit you in the stomach. Hard. Not only are you deducting your expenses to make your money, you’ve also got to set aside taxes.
You do pay taxes as an employee. But your employer pays a portion of your taxes for you because you are working for them. When you’re working for yourself, you get to pay the whole lot. And it’s about 30%-ish of what you make. Oy. That $1300 job that you just deducted $356 in rentals, software and music licensing just made even less profit after taxes. That is, of course, if your math is right to begin with. Time to shell out money for the expense of an accountant.
3). You Have to Do Stuff You Hate
All that stuff you don’t like to do, like paying bills, managing budgets, filing paperwork, cold calling and emailing leads, mailing envelopes, following up on clients who haven’t paid yet, dealing with complaints, issuing refunds, writing contracts, scheduling work hours, running errands, researching how to network computers....yeah. When you’re in business for yourself, you get to do all that.
Sure, you will eventually to do what you wanted to do when you started your business. But don’t kid yourself. You’ll be doing a boatload of stuff you never even dreamed of. Your business card should read, “Business Owner, Account Manager, Receptionist, CFO, IT Manager, and Janitor.”
4). Congratulations. You’re Now a Salesman
Nobody likes pushy, over-eager, I’m-just-trying-to-make-a-buck salesmen. But suddenly you’re one of those guys. The desperate need for gigs has you trying to push business cards into the hands of anybody who will take them. Or not. You start leaving a few wherever you see community bulletin boards.
The worse part? Your artistic talent has been sold out to make a buck. And you sold it yourself. Your establishment-corporate-America-hating teenage self is yelling at you every time you find yourself pitching your services.
5). Offering Products Does Not Equal Money Pouring In
These days anybody with a little time and effort can create a professional looking website. And it’s even easier to come up with catchy names for what you do and assign them price tags. Getting folks to find your services and actually buy them? You become obsessed with your Google tracking numbers.
As an entrepreneur, whether your dreams are to stay a small mom’n’pop shop or become the next studio conglomerate, you must start making sales. And this means learning how to find clients, how to pitch, and how to position your services and products as solutions. It’s a rare few entrepreneurs that magically have 10 clients show up the second they hang out their shingle.
6). You Can’t Afford to be Shy
A vital tool to drumming up business will be your networking skills. Oh, you just wanted to stay in your PJs all the time? Nope. You’ve got to get out there. You got to go meet people. People will introduce you to other people. And you’ll need to keep in touch with all of them.
Don’t like meeting new people? Too bad. Well, unless you want your business to shrivel up and die. Go on. Put your pants on and go network.
7). No Gigs for Three Months Means No Money
Money doesn't magically come in. That’s where getting gigs and selling products on a regular basis is vital. No gigs means no money. And when your business is attempting to pay the bills, you need to keep getting gigs.
The worst part about this? Not getting gigs and selling products keeps you up at night. And you keep replaying this circular track over and over in your head: You need to get gigs. You have no gigs. You will have no money. You need to get gigs!
8). It Takes Money To Make Money
You will have to pay for something to make money. Whether you buy lightbulbs for your desk lamp or you find yourself shelling out cash for advertising tools. You will need money to make money. Which means you can set aside less of your hard earned, top-line revenue for profit. And it means you must keep a certain amount in reserve to pay for those things when you aren’t getting gigs.
You do the math on your profits again and find out you’re making less than minimum wage.
9). You Don’t Work 9-5 Anymore
It’s more like 10am-9pm. Or maybe 4am-3pm. Or maybe it’s working on holidays and weekends. Because that’s when you got the work and you need to get it done now.
Or when you find yourself tweaking yet another stupid thing on your website sales page at 1am in the morning.
10). You Can Only Blame Yourself
When it all fails and there’s no money in the bank, you’ve emailed your clients a thousand times and they still won’t pay, you’ve followed up every lead and nobody needs you, your computer fails and you can’t edit until the hard drives are fixed, whatever the problem, there is only one person you can blame:
When you get into business for yourself, you are accepting the responsibility for all of your own actions, plus the actions others take or won’t take with your business. If you didn’t do the work, if you didn’t put in the effort, if you didn’t make it happen, it’s your responsibility.
So, who becomes a business owner? Only the crazy ones who decide to believe that it’s possible, despite the odds. And trust me, it’s one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have.