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Running your own business – is it worth it?

By 123 Reg - October 31, 2019

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, it’s perfectly natural to wonder: “Is it worth it?”  If you’re already in among it, you still may pause occasionally and ask: “Is it worth it?”

So, why do it? There are a few obvious reasons: being your own boss means you’re answerable to no-one. You can set your own timetable. And you never need to have another minuted meeting again!

But, beyond this, there are reasons which are more personal, less measurable. There’s realising a dream. There’s a sense of achievement. There’s a chance of being your best self!

But anyone who has run a business will tell you that there’s a lot of give and take. So, let’s look at some of the pros and cons.

The Commitment: is it worth it?

A salary can give you a lot – some peace of mind, a regular, predictable income, a career structure. It can also take away the control you have over what you do; it can make you do things you don’t enjoy, or positively dislike, and that predictable income can take away any ambition you ever had to make more of your life. If you’ve ever been through the Redundancy process, you’ll know that even giving your best to your employer is no defence against losing your job.

Running your own business also gives and takes. It can give you freedom and a measure of control over your fate. It can mean you are answerable to no-one except yourself. But it can take away your predictable income; it can take away your ability to delegate; it can take away your weekends and your holidays and all your ‘you time’. So your work time has to become your you time!

You know that old saying: “Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” It’s often (wrongly) attributed to Mark Twain, but he never said any such thing. Possibly because he would know that this, on the face of it quite appealing notion, is actually nonsense. If you find something you love to do, you won’t only work at it, you’ll graft. In doing so, you won’t just work days, you’ll work nights, weekends, holidays: you’ll be thinking about work when you should be asleep. It won’t let you rest.

There may be difficult days, dark days that will test you, but you’ll power through because you know it’s worth it!

The Cost: is it worth it?

Do successful entrepreneurs start up their businesses for the money?

Almost never.

It’s more about that freedom, that sense of controlling your own fate, steering your own boat, mixing your own metaphor.

Ironically, whilst your business will be making very little money (as most businesses do, initially) you will find yourself becoming an expert at counting the little money you have. You’ll be doing your own accounts (at least up to a point) and familiarising yourself with the tax regulations that affect you.

But money is only ever a means to an end. For business-people with a vision, an abundance of money will help them on their way, but an absence of money won’t stop them. There’s always a way under, over or around a problem, all it takes is the right strategy.

Paying for it to go away is one strategy, but what will you learn from that? Figuring out how to do something yourself – that’s a learning experience!

The struggles you may find yourself embroiled in, will be the kind of tests that help you discover what kind of person you are. Are you a problem solver, a negotiator, a pragmatist and a visionary? Or, are you a quitter?

Of course you’re not a quitter.

You’ll reach out and get help – from local people, from mentors, from the internet. There are a million people who’ve been through what you’re going through and many of them will have shared their experiences. Check YouTube, check Google, check Facebook. And don’t forget to search through the valuable blogs we’ve posted for you, right here at 123 Reg.

You need to develop a mindset where you welcome problems, because they are your path to a deep sense of satisfaction and even pride, when you overcome them.

Problems are the price you pay for feeling like you’ve achieved something truly worthwhile! They’re also an education. Like mistakes, they’re only wasted if you don’t learn from them.

Furthermore, if you solve a customer’s problem, that creates a bond of trust. Customers who trust you are customers for life! So, problems are great!

The Return: is it worth it?

There can be real variety in running your own business. Each day can bring a new customer and a new opportunity. Each new question a client asks is a new chance for you to learn. So, when they say “Can you …?” you say “Yes” then figure it out later. That’s how you evolve and that’s how your business grows!

But, whatever you do, wherever you do it and whoever you do it for … the constant is you! When you run your own business – and especially if you’re a sole trader – your work can define you. Do you take pride in your work? Of course you do. Then take pride in yourself! When your business succeeds – that’s down to you. Your hard work. Your success.

If you actually love what you do – if you insist on doing it to the best of your ability – it becomes overwhelmingly important to you. It becomes a passion.

Love stories never finish with the heroic young lovers running across town in the rain to breathlessly tell their office or workshop how much they love it … But, that’s because they’re not self-employed.

Running your own business is never boring, just like passion is never boring. When something means everything to you, then you will fiercely protect it, you’ll fight for it (not literally, keep your shirt on) and you’ll lose sleep over it.

The Legacy: is it worth it?

Some people come from a place where entrepreneurship is the norm, it’s expected of them. This can help get you started – being a business-person can be inherited, almost in the way businesses can be inherited.

But what about those people who come from a long line of waged employees? How do you break out of that tradition, when you’re the first one in your family to be haunted by the need to do your own thing?

In this case, what you’re doing may seem odd, even reckless (“You’ve given up a good job to do this?”) but you’ll just have to be patient. The people who love you will soon understand why you’re doing your thing, when they see how happy it makes you!

Seeing your loved ones happy: priceless!

And, of course, family can be one of the biggest motivators that keeps business people going when the going gets tough.

Your plan may be to build the business to a certain size then sell up, take early retirement and spend time with your family. Or your plan may be to train up your kids to take over running the business.

You may simply be planning to leave them something that makes them financially secure.

Either way, it’s not your job, not your business, not even your way of life… it’s your legacy.

So, is it worth it?

Ultimately, it comes down to wants and needs.

Do you want to earn a living and you aren’t much bothered about how you do it. Or, do you need to make your dream a reality and pursue it doggedly, no matter what?

Wants evaporate like moods and memories. The only thing that will drive you to get out of bed in the middle of the night to start work first is need. The only thing that will keep you focused in the heat of the summer, when everyone else is on holiday, is need!

So, the first question you need (!) to ask yourself is: what do I need?

You can always get a part-time job to keep the lights and heat on, while your *real* job is taking off! Because running a business isn’t what you do, it’s who you are.

And that’s why it’s never really about the money. Money is just permission and business owners don’t need permission!

But you can always do with a little advice.

Here we talk about why finding your  business niche is important.

This blog helps you to road-test your business idea, to make sure there’s a market out there for you.

And we also offer you a comprehensive guide to starting an online business.

So, what dream won’t leave you alone? What passion is burning in your heart? And why aren’t you doing something about it yet?