Is small business life for you?

- February 25, 2020 4 MIN READ

Working for yourself means you are accountable for you. No one else. The buck stops with you. You can’t blame the tutorial you watched when the client is unhappy or that someone else on the team did not do what they said they would. It is 100% all on you to deliver the work that wows your clients and has them coming back for more, writes entrepreneur Hayley Birtles-Eades.

The other challenge around working for yourself is that you reach a point where you can only accept the work you are comfortable doing – because you are accountable. This can seriously hamper the number of projects you are getting because you naturally have to scale down, or risk it and wing it trying to juggle more than you can handle. There’s danger in this approach as you can damage your reputation if you’re not 100 per cent sure of what you’re doing.

You Fund Your Learning Curves

When you’re employed, you have a buffer. While you are accountable within your industry, you are free to ask your seniors or your colleagues for guidance as needed, training to acquire new skills and getting back up where needed.

Your work may be criticised and changed before it reaches the client but that is your golden learning opportunity. In the end, the client gets an industry-standard deliverable and you get to practice and get paid.

Working for yourself has no safety nets. You are on your own. Your wins are yours but so are the losses. If you cannot cope with the uncertainty and isolation that comes from running your own race, then working for yourself may be a scary journey.

Big Fish in a Small Pond Means More Opportunities

Most people picture an entrepreneurial life to look vast and bountiful in its potential – after all – you’re no longer limited to a title or skill or pokey desk in a windowless room or 9 to 5.

The truth?

Your bubble shrinks when you work for yourself. You are an individual without a significant reputation. As part of a company, you can still stand out and build a reputation for yourself but know the same effort will get greater results because you can ride on the company’s reach. It’s much faster to create a name for yourself, especially if you are speaking at events and presenting at expos. You can take that traction and use it to elevate the public’s perception of you.

Working for you means you have to work from the ground up to build your profile and reputation. If you do not have the budget to get someone to do it for you, you have to fit it in around all the other things you are juggling.

Meaningful Interactions

It’s a good life, isn’t it? Working for yourself means you can sleep in a little. Check your emails in bed, coffee in hand. Saunter over to the desk and do a few basics.

Then, you start to miss human interaction. You realise how challenging it is to innovate something new without a team to brainstorm ideas alongside. Or a boss to bounce a concept off of, knowing you will get the most candid feedback.

Sure, this point is largely centred on how it feels to work alone, but the connections we build in the workplace have the power to fast-track our professional progress in the future. “It’s not about what you know, but who you know” is an old favourite saying. Only once you have worked for yourself and realised how few resources you have when you are working solo, can you truly appreciate this.

Luckily, with the growth of coworking spaces and networking events, those in business can expand their meaningful interactions so you do not have to always be alone.

Delayed Gratification Is Not Something You Can Cope With

When you have a job, there is certainty in most aspects – when you get paid, take holidays, daily routine, work hours, and sick leave. There are established systems and processes, set budgets for stationary, marketing, training and functions, and the support of a team.

As an entrepreneur, there is no certainty in the first few years; no guarantees you’ll get paid on time when you send an invoice, working through being sick because there is no one else and how long it takes to build a profile. Entrepreneurship requires a deep-seated patience and understanding that building a business takes time. It is about knowing things do not always work and you are going to fail, over and over and over again, and there will be times when you may not get paid for months.

Delayed gratification is the art of knowing the rewards will come but not straight away.

Making The Choice

Many go into business because they are good at what they do and believe they can do it better on their own than in the confines of being an employee. Yet, the reality is often not the same as the dream. You must be tenacious, patient and focused to be successful in business. You have to understand the path to business success is paved with one step forward and three back but if you don’t give up, you will get there. If you can handle that, business will be an exciting journey. If not, that’s ok. Weigh up what is important to you. Be honest with yourself.


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