Myths Of Small Business Ownership

Jim Blasingame Whenever I talk with would-be small business owners, I like to ask this question: Why do you want to own your own business? The responses almost always produce what I call, The Myths Of Small Business Ownership. Here are some of those answers:

Myth - When I own my own business, I won't have to work as hard as I do as an employee.
This is actually true. You won't work as hard. You will work a LOT harder. I like what Ramona Arnett, president of Ramona Enterprises said about this myth, "Being in your own business is working 80 hours a week so you can avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else."

You actually could work less than when you were an employee - but I predict you won't want to. The reason is because everything in your business belongs to you. Yes, I know about all of the bank notes. But let's rise above the pedantic and focus on the bigger picture. I'm talking about ownership, and that includes the challenges and the opportunities.

When you are the owner, even the problems have a certain appeal. As irritating and frustrating as they can be, they belong to you. Which means when you solve them, the opportunities that manifest in those solutions also belong to you.

Bottom line - The appeal of ownership is not just about owning stuff. It's your dream, and you want to be there as it comes true, regardless of how hard you have to work.

Myth - When I own my own business, I can take off whenever I want.
It isn't that you can't take off - the myth is that you will take off. Your business produces a strange gravitational pull that is difficult to resist.

One of the most interesting things I have found about my ownership experience is that I played a lot more golf as an employee than I do as an employer. Yes, I now can play whenever I want. It's just that the gravity of my business is greater than that of my golf game.

Bottom line - Whatever interest "pulls" you as an employee, will likely be jealous of your business.

Myth - When I am a business owner, I'll be my own boss.
Yes, you won't have an employer telling you what to do. But when you become an owner, you trade that one boss for several others: Customers, landlord, bankers, government regulators, even employees.

Employees? Yes, employees. In today's workplace, there is less bossing and more managing. As the owner, you have to accommodate, and make allowances for, the needs of your employees, which makes you feel more like an envoy than a boss. In a small business, everyone must be responsible for a number of operational components, and there are very few back-ups. Small business employees are more like partners, and you have to treat them accordingly.

Bottom line - The dominator management style is passe, and is being pushed aside by the partnership management style. The more you understand that the partnership model is the straightest line to making your entrepreneurial dream a reality, the more you realize that being a small business owner is so much more that being your own boss.

Myth - When I own my own business, I'll make a lot of money.
It could happen. But it is more likely that you will just make a living. Some small business owners do make lots of money. Most don't. On my show recently, Jack Faris, President of The National Federation of Independent Business, reminded me that the average annual income of small business owners in America is about $40,000. Are you surprised?

I was first disabused of this myth during the 1969 recession, while working my way through college in the furniture store of one of my early mentors. My boss knew I was favoring a career in business, so he often shared his knowledge, wisdom, and perspectives with his young disciple. When he told me that that year his top salesman earned more than he did, that little myth-busting kernel of truth hit me like a meteor strike.

I felt like the young boy who had just heard that the 1919 Chicago White Sox players were being accused of throwing that year's World Series. As legendary outfielder, Shoeless Joe Jackson walked by, the lad begged his hero to, "Say it ain't so, Joe."

First baseball - now this! What's next - apple pie?

Then my mentor said those words which cover so many small business issues that are not easily explained, and which I have repeated to myself and others at least a thousand times since then:

Bottom line - "Welcome to the world of small business ownership."

Write this on a rock... As you pursue your small business dream, you will confront and disprove many myths. The best way I have found to respond to yourself and to others when this happens is to quote my mentor: "Welcome to the world of small business ownership."

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Category: Entrepreneurship
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