Running a successful small business is hard work and in most cases, requires much more time and effort than working for someone else, yet every year the number of new small business start-ups continues to increase. I recently came across an article on Inc.com titled Top 10 Reasons to Run Your Own Business and it got me thinking…
“What is it that people REALLY like about being in business for themselves?”
According to the Canada Trust Small Business Survey, “small business owners say the top benefits of owning their own business are the sense of personal achievement (96%) and being able to help their customers and clients (96%). Other benefits are being their own boss (94%), being in control of their own destiny (94%) and the opportunity to make more money (85%).” Women's Network Australia adds other benefits such as finding your own work/life balance, following your passion and pride in building something of your own.
As I look at these lists, I can’t imagine someone saying “nah, that’s not a benefit of being a small business owner.” Who could argue with any of these idealised reasons? But when I think about the reasons why I love being an entrepreneur, I have to be honest and say that in addition to these reasons, my list includes some things that are much more, let’s say, “down to earth”.
- Doing something you absolutely love and have a passion for. I can’t imagine anyone ever starting a business doing something that they hated doing. Yet as employees, this is what many people do. They go to work simply to collect a paycheck and can’t wait till the weekend. Did you know that more heart attacks occur on Sunday nights than any other time? The suspected reason – people dreading going back to work Monday morning. When you are a business owner, you are building something for yourself, not someone else. You get to follow your vision and your sense of purpose.
- You get to control your work environment AND your position in the workplace. When you own your own business, you get to choose things like the music that is played, and what the décor looks like. You decide what hours your business is open, what your schedule is and where your business is located. You’re the boss – you make the decisions. No more dealing with bureaucracy or pointless meetings (you wouldn’t do that to yourself would you?). And needless to say, as the person in charge, you don’t need to worry about being laid off, being made redundant or having your department shut down.
- You get to choose the people you work with. You make the hiring decisions so you can build a team of people who you truly enjoy being around. No more putting up with a cranky co-workers, micro-managing bosses or gossipy colleagues hanging around the break room. Yes, it can be hard to find qualified employees, but once you find the ones you like and meet your needs, working with good people will be something you look forward to every day!
- Even though being in business for yourself may mean long hours, you have the flexibility to prioritise your schedule the way you need it. Have a doctor’s appointment or need to run a personal errand? You won’t need to submit a leave request any more. As employees, many parents are put in situations where they have to choose between work and family. As a business owner, no one is going to fire you if you have to take a day off when your child is sick. And if you really need to get to your son's school presentation at 10 am or your daughter’s dance recital at 3 pm, you can probably make it happen.
- Dual Purpose Travel– When I take a vacation, I make sure that at least part of the trip includes something that will benefit my business. Yes, there are strict guidelines that need to be followed, but if you plan your trip correctly, at least some of it may be a business deduction.
- Home Office– As a business owner, there are definitely times when I have to take work home but there is actually a positive side to this. Because I have a designated area set aside for business and keep good records, some of the expenses for my home can be claimed as business deductions.
- Long Lunches– As an employee, when you go out to lunch with co-workers, no matter how much you talk about work, the cost of the meal is completely on you. Plus, there is usually someone who tells you what time you take lunch and when you have to be back. As a small business owner, depending upon the circumstances, working lunches may be tax deductible AND you are in charge of how long you are gone. Needless to say, the same thing goes for what time you come to work, when you take breaks and when you leave.
- Real Life Learning Experiences– Because entrepreneurship and running a business are logical outgrowths of independent learning, helping out with a family business is a great way for children of all ages to gain real life educational experiences. Assigning age appropriate tasks in your business can give your kids a chance to apply what they have learned in school. It’s also a great way to develop a sense of responsibility and pride. No kids of your own? You could set up a “young apprentice” program with local parents or schools.
There’s a quote, “When you love what you do, you will never work another day in your life” and while it’s not always easy, this is the way many small business owners feel about what they do!