We don’t want to dampen anyone’s dream and if they want to start their own business – all the power to them. However, they should do it for the right reasons. Unfortunately, there are people who start a business for the wrong reasons. We call them – the Pretenders.
There are people who ‘pretend’ to be in business. By this, we mean they, ‘talk the talk’ and ‘walk the walk’, but in reality, they are one of the following –
- They find themselves ‘between’ jobs. They claim to be in business for themselves so as to not look like they are unemployed. The bottom line is, while pretending to be employed, they are fooling no one. Friends and family are polite and smile. But prospective employers are not so gracious. Why would anyone hire someone who tries to deceive them? Secondly, if they were indeed in business for themselves, why are they looking for a job!? They are either full-time looking for a job or, they are full-time setting up a business. They can’t do both.
- They got a ‘golden handshake’ and decided to put all their corporate experience to good use – and so they either buy an existing business or start from scratch. If they got offered a retirement package, or even if they were encouraged to quit their job – jumping into business for themselves could prove to be a very costly mistake. Despite all their corporate experience, they simply do not have any experience running a small business.
- They believe there are lots of tax benefits associated with running a business. Indeed, there are tax considerations, but whether they are benefits or not depends upon a lot of factors. Some people think everything is suddenly a tax right-off. It isn’t. The rules are usually quite clear – an expense is permitted if it is directly related to the business, and, if it will, or there is a reasonable expectation it will generate income. For instance, you can’t right-off Sunday brunch with your grandmother because she happened to ask how your ‘little business thing’ is doing.
- They think they are no longer on a 9 to 5 schedule. Some people think they can set their own hours which will include all kinds of free time along with a very flexible (loose) schedule. Expect your workweeks to be 60 to 80 hours – at least for the first 7 years.
- Prestige and Status. Yes, some people think that others will look up to them because they own a business. They have visions of becoming a pillar of the community. First things first – to reach that status, they first need to be successful. By the time they have reached that level of success – if they ever reach that level – their perceived status will no longer be important to them.
- Independence – not having a manager dictate their lives day-in and day-out, appeals to some people. They think owning a business represents independence. The bottom line is – the only company where the owner is fully independent, is a company that has no clients or customers.
- Some people have been a little fish in a big pond long enough and seek something different. They think that by owning their own business, they will become a big fish in a small pond. The fact of the matter is – if they feel like they have been a small fish in a big pond, they will forever be a small fish in a pond regardless. The only thing that changes when they start a business is – it’s a different pond.
- Some are tired of the rat race, the petty politics and the mindless back-stabbing. Unfortunately, the rat race, the petty politics and the mindless back-stabbing will begin with the addition of the second employee.
- Many people inherit a business, especially if it’s a family business. Unless the beneficiary is a seasoned business owner and one that can add the inherited business to their current obligations, it could very well turn into a disaster. It’s better to sell the business, wind down the business, or dissolve the business, rather than burden someone with the task of taking it over. Remember – it’s not just about ability – it’s about relationships with customers and with suppliers. These things cannot be passed on in a will.
However, if the beneficiary is already part of the business, then they should be groomed to take over, which means they should be given more and more responsibility in running the business so that when the time comes to take the helm, the transition will be almost seamless.
Be honest with yourself.
If you are not cut out to be a business owner, save yourself a lot of frustration, time, effort and money, and find yourself a job. However, if you are in – make sure you are in all the way – one hundred per cent.
Remember the words spoken to Luke Skywalker by Yoda (Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back) – “Do, or do not. There is no try.”