Running a small business as an entrepreneur is a never-ending challenge of new products, customers, competitors, and an unpredictable economy. This week is National Small Business Week in the US, so it’s a good time to celebrate your successes, and allow the rest of us to acknowledge your dedication and innovations.
Too many entrepreneurs never find the time to reflect on the positives of their lifestyle, or even take a break. They forget that they became entrepreneurs, according to the “DNA of an Entrepreneur” study a while back, for just this flexibility. Almost nine in ten respondents (87%) found benefits from running or working in a small company, like flexible working hours and being in control of your life.
Related benefits cited include the ability to influence the direction of the business (45%), and greater pride in your work (43%). Other studies show that only about 30% list money as a key benefit of running their own firm. This indicates that lifestyle and satisfaction factors are usually more important than financial ones.
As with everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to every choice we make. Choosing entrepreneurship is no exception. Beyond the obvious advantages mentioned above, there are some additional advantages that get mentioned often.
- High level of excitement. Entrepreneurs love the continuous challenges of a startup, and the satisfaction of tackling them. Some are so high on this life, that they hate the fact that they have to “waste” part of their life in sleep!
- Minimal rules and regulations. Work in a conventional job is often difficult to get done because of all the “red tape” and consistent administration approval needed. With a startup there are no rules until you make them.
- Challenge of originality. A good entrepreneur feels the incentive to offer a new service/product that no one else has offered before. That’s the same challenge an artist feels on every new canvas, or every musician feels when composing a new work.
- Beat the competition. Entrepreneurs are driven to offer a new or better product at the same cost, or an existing product as a lower cost. Competition drives innovation, and innovation drives competition. The cycle never stops.
Of course there are some disadvantages that every entrepreneur knows all too well:
- No regular paycheck. Starting your own business means that you must be willing to give up the security of a regular paycheck. In fact, most startup founders work for no salary during the first year or two of company operation.
- Few benefits. There will likely be no medical and dental benefits, and no vacations or other perks during the formative years. Don’t expect a staff to do the accounting, handle correspondence, or even clean the bathrooms.
- Decision responsibility. All the decisions of the business must be made on your own, better known as “the buck stops here.” This may sound like an advantage, but is actually a major source of stress and loneliness for startup CEOs.
- Staffing challenges. Hiring and firing decisions are hard, and that’s just the beginning. Often times, you will find yourself working with people who “don’t know the ropes” and require extensive coaching and assistance. Then you have to deal with the mistakes.
By definition, if you see the rewards here as outweighing the risks, you are an entrepreneur. So you should fully appreciate the right to celebrate National Small Business Week, and maybe even decide to take some time off and enjoy the family. You earned it, and you need the rest. We couldn’t make it without you!
CEO & Founder ofStartup Professionals, Inc.; Advisory Board Member for multiple startups; ATIF Angels Selection Committee; Entrepreneur in Residence at ASU and Thunderbird School of Global Management.