Small business owners share the realities of entrepreneurship.
Most entrepreneurs agree that starting your own business is well worth the hard work and effort. However, it’s not an easy alternative to the traditional nine-to-five job. Here business owners share the biggest misconceptions about owning a business—and the realities of entrepreneurship.
1. You can set your own hours.
Flexibility is one of the benefits most frequently cited bywould-be entrepreneurs. But it comes at a cost. “As the saying goes,‘Entrepreneurs get to choose which 18 hours a day they work,’” says JoshWinzelberg, president and founder of Vodka Mariette in New York.
In the early months and years of your business, you willlikely find yourself working longer hours. “When you are getting everythinggoing, there is often much less flexibility. Nights and weekends which used tobe reserved for family and friends when you had a day job start getting tradedfor urgent business matters,” says David Waring, editor of FitSmallBusiness.com.
2. You can be your own boss.
While it’s nice to imagine not having to answer to anyone, small business owners agree that everyone serves someone. “My clients are my bosses,” says Erica Arrechea, a business consultant and co-founder of the matchmaking service Love Love International in Santa Monica. “It’s as ifI have five to 10 bosses at one time.”
Winzelberg says small business owners oftenjuggle even more than just clients. “Instead of the boss, you must satisfyinvestors, partners, suppliers, vendors, customers and many more people,” hesays.
3. You can take unlimited vacations.
In reality, entrepreneurs often find it harder to take avacation. “It’s harder to turn it off when you know there is always more to do.It took me years to take a vacation,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn, founderand CEO of Boston-based marketing consulting firm Mavens & Moguls.
Even when they do take time off, checking out completely canbe difficult for entrepreneurs. “It is much easier to walk out of a job at theend of the day and just turn it off. When your name is on the door, it can beimpossible to ever turn it off. You are always on,” Arnof-Fenn says.
4. You can replace your income right away.
Even if you start with a great idea or a decent client base,it can take years to build up to your previous salary. “From my experience itgenerally takes three years or longer before you are making the same amountthat you were making when you quit your day job,” Waring says.
5. You don’t have to work with a team.
Many aspiring entrepreneurs imaginethemselves doing it all without dealing with office politics. Small businessowners are quick to caution against this do-it-yourself mentality. “You needcounseling and guidance—even an extra set of hands—on specialized areas thatyou might not have enough knowledge on,” says Los Angeles-based writer Angelique Pivoine.
The areas where small business ownersare most likely to need help include technology, marketing, accounting, humanresources and legal counsel. “The time it takes for you to become an expert inthese fields is better spent running your business,” Pivoine says.
6. You get to do what you love.
Entrepreneurs are known for being passionateabout what they do, but small business owners often find themselves so busywith running the business that there is less time for their trades.
“You have to focus on everything, notjust the aspects of the business that interest you,” says Todd Horton, founderand CEO of KangoGift in Cambridge,Massachusetts. “Many people embrace entrepreneurship to ‘do what they love,’ orpursue a dream to build something or just be free. While some of that is true, youalso must balance the books and pay vendors while delivering great customerservice. Business ownership requires a willingness to take it all on.”
Fortunately, the benefits outweigh the challenges for mostbusiness owners. “If you like wearing many hats and enjoybeing able to bring a vision into a reality, it can be the most rewarding thingyou have ever done,” says Wendy Solomon, owner of Flawless Day Spa in Chapel Hill, NC.