Starting your own business is similar to having kids – It is so amazing, but also way harder than you thought it was going to be. It has been about 2.5 years since I ventured out my own and started my own business so I thought I would share my top 5 best and 5 worst things about being an entrepreneur.
Everyone thinks being an entrepreneur is awesome (and it is!) but it’s not all amazing, so here are my top 5 things that make life tough as an entrepreneur –
1. Robo calls and spam email
Before starting my own business I would get some occasional calls and spam emails but once you have a business everything changes. More than likely you list your phone number and email on your website and other places and before you know people are calling you to try to sell you things for your new business. If you have a B2C (business to consumer) business then you will probably answer all those calls for fear of missing a customer calling to ask questions or book an appointment. Luckily I have found out that very few potential customers randomly call me to find out about my services, so I ignore all unrecognized phone numbers. Here is a picture of my missed calls from yesterday ☹
2. No Paid Vacation
Every time I send an email and get an out of office response I get a little jealous. When you own your own business you can take vacation, but most likely if you are not working, then you business is not making money to pay you. This applies for national holidays, snow days, and really any time you are not working. Of course the trade off is you can work from anywhere you like and take vacation whenever you like, but I still miss paid vacation!
3. Invoicing and Pay
I remember the days of being a salary worker and getting money automatically deposited into my account. Now I have to create an invoice and send it to the client……and then they have to pay it. Every entrepreneur faces the frustration when they work really hard to get a client, and then work really hard on the work, and then the customer doesn’t pay. You feel completely cheated and probably devastated since you were probably counting on that money.
Regarding pay in general – It is pretty rare that a person would make more by starting their own business due to the fact that some of their time will go towards business development and getting new clients. You hear all about the founders who have raised millions or sold their companies for millions, but the reality is most people make a lot less money the first few years when they own their own company.
4. Never Ending To Do List
When I had a corporate job there were times when I finished all of my work and could relax. When you have your own company there is always something that needs to be done. This is my slowest day in a few months and I am writing this article 😊 As a founder of a new company your time is split between getting new customers and doing the work for those customers. There is always work that you can be doing to grow your business but ultimately there is only so much time in the day.
I have never had a sales job before so it was a culture shock to learn that sales are hard. You don’t just launch your company and people start automatically calling to pay you money once you launch your website. Sometimes sales makes me feel like everyday I am applying to a job and it is exhausting when you miss out on a good customer. But when you land your first few new customers it is as exciting as getting into college or starting your first job.
But even as hard as it is I am having fun. Here are my top 5 amazing things about being an entrepreneur –
This is by far the best thing about having your own company. There is really no price on getting to decide what you work on and when. I still have deadlines and do things that I don’t really want to do….but I have the option to say no. I can work from home, the beach or take a day off whenever I want. I can go to a conference or go to as many of my daughter’s events as I want.
I am the type of person that gets bored doing the same things over and over again and I love learning and trying new things. When you have your own business you have to learn everything from marketing to legal and accounting! If you don’t know something you have the option to hire people to help but I have a lot of fun trying things out myself and learning how facebook and google really work. I also get to learn new industries from Artificial Intelligence, to Cryptocurrencies and Angel Investing. And the best part is I get to use my flexibility and can spend time to learn anything new that I want to – If I want to go to a week long Denver Startup Week event, then I can.
3. No slow days
I remember in my corporate job that Fridays were usually a little slower and the last Friday of the month was super slow. I used to use this time to pay bills, work on my taxes, catch up on old projects or just relax a little. Those days are gone when you own your own business, and this can be seen as either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your personality. I used to have my day filled with meetings and would usually multi task most of the day. Now I very rarely have pointless meetings due the fact that people don’t want to pay for my time unless they really need it. I don’t have to go to company happy hours, status meetings, or any of the other meetings that I used to go to. A good measure of how much you like your job is your engagement, and this is directly correlated to how busy you are and what you are working on.
My job is exciting. At least once a week I get an exciting email about a new project or I go to a new co-working space or event. My business is a consulting business, so if I get tired of working on one client then I switch and start working on another client. If I want a break from excel or xero then I can work on marketing for a while. Switching between things is hard from some people but I love it.
It’s like renting a house vs owning. When you own you can make all of the decisions on how to make your house better. No one (except your loving wife, or maybe friends) are going to tell you how to do things. It is fun dreaming what your business can become and then getting to go and try to make it happen. There is a different level of accomplishment when you get customers yourself, figure out how to do the work yourself, and the customer is ultimately happy with your work. Its not a superficial “good job” from your boss, it’s a higher stakes/higher rewards feeling to be able to own your work completely.