Swapping my senior EA career with business ownership. Here are the pros and cons.
It’s been three years this month that I started my own business and I often look back at how far I have come, what I have left behind in my corporate career and, ultimately, if I have made the right decisions.
As with anything in life, there are pros and cons to everything so for anyone thinking about starting a business, by weighing up the advantages against the disadvantages
it can be established if one outweighs the other quite quickly.
Making decisions on this basis can help plan and strategise as well as work out what long term objectives, goals and dreams a person has.
With one fifth of business owners not continuing into their second year, by carefully considering what business ownership has to offer, as well as the sacrifices required to keep it running, it is an important process to follow before venturing further into the entrepreneurial world.
Flexibility and independence
The ability to do what you want depending on the time that suits you has got to be one of the biggest advantages of owning your own business.
It is well known that some people are more productive and work better in the morning (including the early hours) whilst others might be night owls and work into the early hours more easily.
Provided that your business model allows for a particular option, you can choose the hours you work and when you actually complete them.
Being able to work independently can be rewarding through empowering the person who takes the lead on all business matters and provided a person possesses self-discipline, doing what you need to do in a flexible way has got to be one of the best perks of owning a business.
Being your own boss might seem unnerving, especially to begin with, so having this flexibility has the potential of feelings of guilt for those used to regular and disciplined hours.
Having the freedom to work around family commitments, medical appointments and other life choices is more likely to bring a more whole and fulfilled life for those in business ownership than those in paid employment that are stringently accountable to others regardless of how flexible they might be.
Ownership and reward
We have all felt, at some point in our lives, the sense of achievement on completing or succeeding in something that we have done by ourselves.
To be able to own something from inception, whether it is a task, a full blown project or a business, it allows us to measure the development we make through the learning curve that it brings, and reap the rewards at the end.
Having made the commitment to launch a business and create something of our ‘own’ leads to an even deeper responsibility than one that which we might have felt if it was someone else’s business in which we were employed and the passion within us that that brings is second to none.
It is likely a business owner will do what they enjoy doing, and although there will always be elements of a role that we aren’t as keen on as other aspects, the core business is going to be something that we believe in and feel is important.
The opportunities to learn as we get older shouldn’t, but can be, curtailed as we have other commitments and responsibilities.
These can be either within our corporate environment or in our personal lives including family commitments.
Owning a business will allow for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with the requirement for constant learning a necessity to achieve the objectives set and succeed in the goals aimed for.
The learning a person can do within their own business is unlimited. Everything business owners do has elements of self-learning and development throughout and even though the early days of launching a business provides a steep learning curve for any first time business owner, there is a tendency that the lessons learnt as business ownership develops are ones which come out of nowhere at any given time.
The financial reward might be questioned as a business owner.
Depending on the nature of the business, a person could choose to scale up and have ambitious financial targets that, with little overheads, can be lucrative for them.
Planning for and maintaining a well thought out cashflow keeps a business owner in track with their profit (or loss) so they can plan for contingencies if necessary.
Fund raising abilities is something a business owner should consider carefully and if investment or funding is required, a full and watertight business plan will be required to document and present the future strategy of the business in order for a bank or other institution or organisation to lend to or invest in the business; and why it is important to have a business plan and how to write one.
The biggest disadvantage business owners might face is the instability that self-employment brings with it.
With governmental changes that could directly affect business owners, it is easily the biggest challenge that entrepreneurs wince at, particularly if those nets have widening holes that a small business owner might easily slip through so little support is received from the government.
Most business owners will endure the ebbs and flows of business, however, they don’t have to like it. Planning for the quieter and more unstable periods is a key factor to business ownership.
A strong work ethic and self-discipline, commitment and drive to the business are prerequisites to allowing for such contingencies.
Not knowing if demand for the business offered might create a constant unsettled feeling (self-belief and confidence are often put to the test for many at various points in time), coupled with the economy and other external factors out of a business owner’s control adds to this instability.
A business start-up will most always have a financial risk attached to it and so any prospective business owner should do their homework before venturing into the entrepreneurial world.
Having a robust business plan is a key document to be able to review and plan the business effectively, as well as it being a necessity for fundraising or investment requirements, a template of which is available to buy here.
For anyone who believes that owning a business can fit in around a person’s lifestyle, whilst this is true for those that might not consider it as a full-time enterprise, the commitment of time that is required to give to it, especially in the early years, is not for the faint hearted.
A business owner is everything from being the decision maker and CEO to all that goes with running it effectively including, but not limited to:-
Sales & Marketing - incorporating social media, advertising, new business, networking and client relationships. It might be tempting to demote this business function when a business owner finds themselves busy but it is even during busy periods in which driving sales and marketing is key to the business in order for the momentum to continue.
Finance - including cash flows, accounting, taxation, payroll with many business owners opting to outsource a few elements of the function to an accountant.
Human Resources - even if a business owner is self-employed and has no employees ‘on the books’, holidays and sickness need to be considered so that business continuity is maintained in periods of absence. Training is solely down to the business owner and self-development, including CPD requires commitment and discipline to keep a person’s self-development progressing.
IT - depending on the type of business, it may be prudent for an entrepreneur to outsource their IT support to an external company if they rely heavily on it. There cannot be much worse for a business owner to lose data or utilised systems when they require it to conduct their core business.
Research & Development - any new or potential developments, either related to the business or influenced by external factors will need to be researched and developed if required.
Logistics - including products and supplies required to meet the needs of the business that need to be met and managed appropriately with deadlines met.
Becoming an independent business owner and leaving colleagues behind can be daunting. Not having someone there to bounce ideas off is something that can be missed.
Building relationships through networking with likeminded people brings a person the best of both worlds.
Whilst you have the independence and freedom to do exactly what you want in the way you want to do it, you can have close associates that will support you as colleagues might. A business owner’s accountability ultimately lies with themselves and so having motivational people around is hugely valuable.
The stress of having sole (or the majority of) responsibility for the business can be overwhelming at times.
When something wakes a business owner up by way of a reminder in the early hours of the morning or having the feeling of not having enough hours in the day, week or month to complete what is required within the business, it can challenging.
Techniques to manage stress with specific boundaries put in place can reduce the feeling of stress, however, due to the personal nature of owning a business, it is natural for stress to be felt at times.
To be or not to be?
There are many pros and cons to business ownership. It often does not suit many people, however, there is the large number that it does.
For people who are disciplined, feel comfortable to be accountable for themselves and strive to do better consistently, owning a business might come more naturally than you anticipate.
Provided a good work ethic is maintained, a pragmatic view is taken and the business decisions taken by others that might negatively affect your business directly are not taken personally, the pros can often outweigh the cons.
In fact, the business owners that have left their corporate world to launch their business have mostly said to me they could and would never go back to what they did in the past in the corporate world.
Take heed. There’s no going back.
Are you ready to start your own business but not quite sure where to start?
Please get in touch if you would like my help to start your journey with research requirements, a plan or business strategy.