Recently I asked my fellow business owners, what are some of the myths that they believed or have heard, before they went into business. Some I find funny, others I hear all too often.
1. You can take time off whenever you want/ you have a very flexible schedule. Ha don’t we wish. As a business owner you are at the mercy of your clients and your employees. If there is a deadline and someone calls in sick, the business owner ultimately has to ge the job done or risk loosing the client. Clients don’t want to hear excuses. Yes you may have a bit more flexibility than others do because you don’t report directly to a “boss”, but you have to be accountable to yourself. All your work still needs to get done, everyone only has 24 hours in a day.
2. You make lots of money. Umm no, not all the time and definitely not in the beginning. On average it takes a new business 3-5 years before they start to feel financially comfortable. And by comfortable I mean we can pay the bills, and maybe take a vacation. We often hear of the Bill Gates and Tom Gallisano’s of the world being great philanthropists. Yes they are rich beyond rich, but you did not hear about the years they were climbing to the top, or the couple of failed businesses they had before they made this final one work.
3. How much could your overhead really be? You have employees making you money, why cant I have a better deal? Did you know on average rent is higher for a commercial space than a residential space, and your utilities are at a higher rate as well. Those employees that should be making you money, also cost you when they quit and your unemployment rate goes up, when they fail to meet a deadline and you are stuck eating the cost of production. We cant give away our products, you wouldn’t dream of going into Wegmans and ask for a discount on your groceries. We are either reselling you an item that has a fixed cost of which we have to cover, or we are selling you a service that is our time. Time which we can never get back.
4. If you work from home you are not a legitimate business. There are more companies starting up in their homes now then starting in a brick and mortar office. New York State even has an award each year that recognizes home based business owners. Working from home is actually more distracting than working in an office. When at home you have laundry, dirty dishes, vacuuming and people stopping over to distract you from doing your business.
5. As a business owner we must take every client that comes our way. This is a tough one, yes we are in business to help others, but you must be careful that you are taking clients that you can offer your service to, and that you can meet their needs. I own a cleaning company, while I would love to clean for everyone, a small office with only 2 people in it, would not be ideal for me. The same goes for a 10,000 employee manufacturing plant that needs cleaning 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I could not handle that. We each need to figure out who our ideal client is and cater to them.
People often ask me why I went into business, don’t I ever get discouraged and want to give up. Yes I want to quit about once a week. It is tough, some days I worry about payroll, or if I am going to get that next bid. There are less sleepless nights now that I have been in business for over 15 years, but I still have those nights when I wonder if I should just hang it up and get a “real job”. I don’t because I truly feel that I am an entrepreneur, and I love being in charge of my own destiny. This life is not for everyone, but for those who enter, it can be a wild ride of ups and downs, a roller coaster of emotions and lots of fun.
I encourage you if you are a new business owner, know that the doubts you have, the issues you face, you are not alone. If you are an outsider looking in, please do not judge us, we work just as hard as everyone else, there is no free lunch.
Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on October 28th, 2015.