Do you have the right personality for running your own business?

Miles Burke

I’m always meeting people who have jumped into freelance or small business life without really understanding their own skills matrix. As rewarding as it is starting your own business, there are some negatives as well. It’s great that you’re a PHP expert, or can design like the best of them, but do you really want to run your own business?

Here’s some myths of running your own business, and the reality I have found from these;

I can spend all day doing what I want to do, and turning down the rest.
Sure – if your dream is wanting to spend copious amounts of hours wrestling with your accounting package, endless meetings with clients, planning your cash flow and dealing with debtors, then I guess that myth holds true. The rest of us though will find we get very little actual time to do what our hearts would prefer.

Running my own business means I can work how and when I want.
Within reason, this is true, however you’ll also find, especially in the early days, you’ll end up working when your clients want you to, and never actually getting that weekly game of Golf in. When you realise that billable hours equals income, you tend to work more than you do now, not less.

I’ll get paid more than my current job.
This is a big one – normally the way business works, is that the majority of it ends up being in goodwill or intangible benefits that you won’t receive until you are in the position to sell it – do you plan to have an exit strategy? Once you’ve taken the costs of taxation, superannuation, equipment, office lease, etc, will you be much better off on a short term basis? Not likely.

As soon as I can afford to take on staff, I can sit back.
Not true at all. As soon as you start having other mouths to feed, you not only have to double your efforts, you have the added pressure of knowing you are supporting their families through your own vision. If you take a wrong turn, you could end up having to fire someone. The added pressures of actually managing others, and ensuring you can pay them, turns many off taking on staff.

If you are anything like me, you also think your way is the best way, so letting go and allowing others to take ownership of workloads is a hard thing to do.

It’s certainly not all doom and gloom though (I don’t regret any moment of the path I have taken) – you’ll quickly find being in charge of your own destiny is an exciting place to be, and worthwhile in the lessons you learn and the challenges you overcome. It’s just important to not only be talented at what you do, but also have the motivation to overlook the negatives and embrace the challenges of creating your own future.

Don’t go into your own business all starry eyed, without understanding the pitfalls, especially in the short term. Learn as much as you can before taking the leap, find others who have gone before you to act as mentors, and above all, have a realistic expectation of where your own skills lay.

There’s no rule that says you can’t start small by working part time, and then taking the leap to full time when you feel you’re prepared for the above. Keep your goals in sight, and don’t forget to have fun!