Is Starting Your Own Business Really Worth It?
The last half-decade has been rather good to self-employed contractors and freelancers. Since the world began emerging from the financial crisis somewhere around mid-2012, the number of people eschewing traditional employment in favour of freelance work and the gig economy has grown, both in Europe and North America. You might have even thought about starting your own business but wondered whether or not it’s really worth it.
Only you can decide how worthwhile it is to be in business for yourself. But know this much: you’ll never truly know if you don’t ever try. It’s one thing to sit down and crunch the numbers on paper; it is an entirely different matter to leave your job and go to work for yourself. It’s one thing to say you would love the freedom of being self-employed; it is another thing to practice the discipline necessary to make a business work.
The Money Question
The first question any entrepreneur has to ask is the money question. This question is actually a set of multiple questions relating to both personal and business finances. On the personal side, you have to ask where your income is going to come from while you get your business up and running. The business side of things is fraught with questions about where to get the money to start your business, how you will sustain your business, and so forth.
New entrepreneurs obviously want to know about start-up funding. They are interested in researching government grants and business loans alternatives. For better or worse, money dominates the discussion during the early days of a new venture. Why? Because we all work to earn money. None of us would be working if we were independently wealthy.
The Freedom Question
There is definitely a lot to be said in favour of the freedom of being self-employed. After you get beyond business loans and personal income, you begin to wonder if life would be better without a boss hovering over your shoulder dictating everything you do. Take it from someone who is self-employed, that kind of freedom is hard to quantify in pounds, euros, or dollars.
That’s not to say that there are no obligations when you’re self-employed. Quite to the contrary, there are more obligations inasmuch as you’re trying to satisfy an unlimited number of customers instead of just one boss. The freedom comes into play in that you get to control how you do your work. You make your own decisions rather than having a manager make them for you.
Being self-employed also gives you a lot more control over your schedule. You can take as little or as much work as you want to keep your business on stable ground. You can determine the days you want to work and how many hours you want to put in on a single day. You can take an extended holiday if you like.
The Time Question
Being self-employed does require a certain level of commitment in terms of your time. For example, getting a start-up off the ground will demand almost all of your time in the early stages. New business owners have very little time for personal pursuits for at least the first year or so. And even once the business is up and running, the owner usually puts in more time than he or she would working for someone else.
The payoff here is that the amount of time necessary to keep a business running gradually decreases over time. Where you might put in 60-hour weeks for the first year, you could be down to 30-hour weeks in year five. And if the business enjoys strong growth over a sustained period, you might be able to sell and retire early. Then you will have all the time in the world to enjoy what you are most passionate about.
There Are Trade-Offs
Starting a business is foreign to most of us because we have all grown up in a world where most people go to work for someone else. But things were not always this way. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, almost everyone was self-employed to one extent or another. People ran farms, practised trades like blacksmithing and cobblery, and made the consumer goods people needed for their homes.
The one thing all entrepreneurs have known over the generations is that there are trade-offs that come with being your own boss. It’s not all sunshine and roses, yet there are a lot of good things that come with being self-employed too.
Is it worth it? Only you can decide that. Just know that there are plenty of contractors and freelancers who absolutely love what they do. They would never even consider going back to traditional employment.