Why did you set off on your own business?

photo by today is a good day 

Are you sick of the word ‘bail out’ yet?

How about all the negative ads on the election?

Has the media convinced you yet that the world has ended?  Now all we’re waiting for is the coup de grace, pigs to fly, hell to freeze over, etc.

With all of the doom and gloom talk going on everywhere you look, I thought it might be worthwhile to revisit why business owners strike out on their own.  I brought this up in one of my advisory board groups last week and asked the question to the group.

“What was the driver for you to strike out on your own?” (start your own business).

I don’t know that the answers were surprising, but revisiting the topic helps put things in perspective (at least for me) and it might be helpful for you.  See if these resonate for you.

Freedom – escaping the cubicle!

This comes out in a lot of different ways, but clearly a huge driver for heading out on your own is the opportunity to chart your own course.  No longer are you answering to a pointy haired boss that doesn’t get it.  You are the one person that determines your own success.

You get to call the shots, make the important decisions (and all of the other decisions as well). 

This is probably the single biggest reason for most people that I know that have gone out on their own.  Yeah a steady paycheck is nice, but the opportunity to achieve a high level of success on your own merits (based on the free market) is really compelling.

Ownership has it’s advantages

As Robert Kiyosaki will tell you over and over again in Rich Dad, Poor Dad the best way to really get ahead in the long run is to build up equity along with your revenue streams.  As a business owner you can build an asset that generates income and is worth something at the end of the day – there’s really no other model that allows that.

It depends on what kind of business you build and how you set it up and run it, but most businesses have the potential to be worth some multiplier of revenue or cash flow (cash flow being the profits the business generates).  For a typical service based business, that multiplier may only be 2X revenues (for a well run business), but that’s still a a great upside compared to nothing that you would get if you are just an employee at a business that’s sold.

Reaching that goal of Financial Independence isn’t easy – but it’s a lot more likely as a business owner than as a typical employee.

I just gotta be me!

This mostly applies to those that previously worked in the corporate world…a world of politics, rigid expectations, an overwhelming pressure to fit in, a running wheel that only went one direction.

You want freedom to make decisions, but just as importantly you want to be yourself – creating a corporate culture that’s important to you, makes sense to you and maybe allows you to have some fun.

You want to set your own hours, you want to establish the priorities of family or health or fun or whatever it might be as more important than money or your business – that’s tough to do as an employee.  If you want to coach your son’s soccer team on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:00…well it’s your business, you can make that happen!

Better than the alternative – for a lot of people

Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner – or wants to be a business owner.  It’s a lot of responsibility, it’s not easy and unfortunately there’s a huge learning curve that may take several years to really get over.

However, the alternatives are inheriting a lot of money, winning the lottery or working for someone else.  Most people can’t really count on inheriting (and shouldn’t be counting on the lottery) so that really leaves working for someone else.

Although working for someone has traditionally been thought of as a ‘steady’ paycheck, layoffs and the general economy make any kind of job just as risky as owning a business these days – with a lot less control.

Along the same lines, whether you like it or not, as you get older and demand more money, it will be harder and harder to find worthwhile jobs.  By the way, I’m defining older here as about 35…it definitely becomes a serious problem in your 40s, but anything over 35 these days starts getting serious scrutiny as compared to that relatively cheap 20 something that has tons of energy and great ideas.

“Let me explain…no, there is too much, let me sum up”

Although things look grim and dark, now is actually a great time to have your own small business – I don’t mean that it’s easy and the money is flowing like wine (I’m actually not sure what that means…), but your business has a lot of potential.

There’s a great post from Naomi Dunford (IttyBiz) on Blood In the Streets that does a way better job than I can on covering why this a good time to be making things happen, but to sum up if you really want the upside of having your own business, start looking for ways to rev up what you’re doing. 

Find what works and do more of it, identify what’s not working and start changing it.  Start challenging yourself and your team to take advantages of the resources that are out there. 

Use the internet and market online effectively.

Consider getting a coach or joining an Advisory Board group

Why did you decide to start your own business (or are you thinking about getting out on your own?).  Share your thoughts in the comments below – I’m sure I missed some important ideas.

Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach

6 thoughts on “Why did you set off on your own business?”

  1. Robert Mayo says:

    There are two types of people in the world. The first are those who want their destiny in their job to be outlined and determined by others. The other type are those who want to make their own destiny.

    We need both for everything to be in working order.

  2. Robert – thanks for the comment.

    I agree that we need leaders and followers to make everything work…but I think the days of clear cut bosses and subordinates is falling by the wayside. The whole concept of ‘free agent nation’ and the number of people that are successfully going out on their own as a contractor (kind of a gray area between business owner and employee).

  3. Squawkfox says:

    I have some niche skills which I knew my former employer wasn’t paying me fair market value for. I decided to go out and freelance my skills to make better pay. It was a huge step, but it’s paying off. ;D

  4. Sundi says:

    The drive (cost). The pay. The extra time (drive distance). The inflexible atmosphere. The corporate culture. I’m somewhere in the middle of all of that! The recent “gloom and doom” IS driving me crazy and I site this as another reason for where I am…or where I eventually want to really BE – http://www.kauffman.org/items.cfm?itemID=1175.

    Create an amazing day!

  5. Eric Reid says:

    I originally set off on my own business some years back because at the time I was very frustrated with squandered potential I saw around me. I have worked in cubicle farms. I have also struck out on my own, set up my own client base and serviced it — as well as dealt with the swings of fortune there. And enjoyed the middle ground of subcontracting.

    But I have found that there is also a great deal to be said for treating your work inside of a company you don’t own as if you were an entrepreneur. Usually this works best in small to medium -sized businesses, and ones that have the vision to support new ideas. I think you sometimes also see it in the certain corporations that foster that type of ownership culture, like Southwest Airlines.

    Currently, in addition to working my own business on the side, I am enjoying this status as an intrepreur, discovering new methodologies for our business. I enjoy the relative stability of a business that has established many more ties and relationships, while seeking out new ways to help it develop its business with a new division. This sort of thing definitely wouldn’t be conceivable in many businesses, like those that never take time to invest in new approaches, or have no thought for anything other than putting out fires.

    Some links on intrepreneurship:
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_between_entrepreneur_and_an_intraprenuer

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intrepreneur

  6. Eric,

    Thanks for the comment – it’s a great point about entrepreneurship being an attitude that can be exercised inside a business. However I also think you’re in a great (and somewhat unusual) situation of working for a company that values that kind of initiative.

    In my experience that doesn’t happen very often – it sounds like a great situation!

    Shawn

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