The Benefits and Drawbacks of Entrepreneurship

Tina Haapala |

“It must be nice having your own business,” an acquaintance of mine said. “You can set your own hours and take off when you want to.”
As we say in the texting world: LOL! (For those of you not familiar with that phrase, it means “laugh out loud.”) Now, if you own or manage a small business, you already know what I’m going to say, but I figure that quite a few folks who are considering starting a new enterprise read this pull-out, too.  So, dear future entrepreneur, yes, I set my own hours and take off when I want. It is nice. But that’s not the whole story.
I once read about Peter Vidmar. Back in 1984, he won two gold medals and a silver at the Olympics. These days he works with future Olympians and does motivational speaking. One thing he likes to say is, “To be a champion you only have to do two things: 1. Work out when you feel like it. 2. Work out when you don’t feel like it.”
When a client or prospect can only meet after hours, before hours, during a holiday or on a weekend, guess when I’m in the office?
When I had surgery and there were instructions not to do any work for a week or two, guess who met with a state auditing team for two days?
When employees cannot make it in due to vacation, sickness, family emergency, and the like, guess who has to cancel their plans and be there when the customer comes knocking?
When at a conference in Orlando, Las Vegas, or San Diego and there is free time, guess what gets that time: Taking in the sights, or returning phone calls that accumulated during the day?
Now don’t get me wrong. I love my work. I enjoy my life. And I do not regret one bit that I own a business. But with ownership comes responsibility. And that responsibility doesn’t fit a nice, neat 8-5 schedule.
If you start a business or you are on your way up the ranks with one, do not expect 40-hour weeks. Heck, I know very few business owners who work that little after 20 years. In the beginning, I worked close to double that each week. And while that pace has slowed considerably, when a Tech Bubble bursts, or the Twin Towers fall, or the Financial Crisis occurs, I yearn to work “only” 80 hours a week.
In a way though, my acquaintance was right. I do set my own hours. I take off when I want to. I have tremendous flexibility being the boss. Yet along with that, I must stay flexible myself. If I want to be able to take off when I want to, I must be willing to work—even if I don’t feel like it—when I need to.
If you’re willing to do that, then yes, it is nice having your own business.
This article was published in the Wichita Falls Times Record News Biz to Biz January 2013.