If you have the opportunity to go into business for yourself, I would recommend you do it. It's an experience marked by creativity, ingenuity, and extreme growth. It is one of the most challenging, exciting, rewarding, creative, and scary things you can do in life. At least that was my experience.
If you've never started your own company, your perspective might be colored by some of the romantic notions people have about what it's like. They latch onto the benefits like:
You can call the shots as to when and where you work.
You won't have to work for The Man.
You can pursue your passion.
If you have done it, your perspective might be, shall we say, more precise. For example, I used to describe the freedom over your hours by saying…
“Being in business for yourself means you get to choose which 20 of the 24 hours in a day you want to work.”
Others describe their new boss as quite a demanding taskmaster (to be polite).
Let's just say it's not all fun and games. At best, it can be as exhilarating as I described above; at worst, it can end in complete and utter financial ruin. And even though I would encourage people to venture out, it's certainly not for everybody — and it shouldn't be undertaken without careful planning and consideration.
Investigating the downside
One of the best ways to make such a decision is to investigate the downside. The more specific you can be about all that is required, the better. If you can tolerate the worst of the worst, it could be a direction worth pursuing.
There are so many challenges in business. But I took to most of the challenges like a duck to water. I loved taking the reins, dealing with customers and employees. But two issues proved particularly difficult for me — marketing and cash flow.
Eventually, I found a way to market my court reporting agency, but cash flow remained a vexing problem until I closed the business after almost 25 years.
Just as it is in personal finance, inadequate cash flow is crippling to a business. In terms of income, you can truly make significant sums if you work hard. The sky is the limit — except there are no safety nets.
At one point, a large, new client put my business into expansion mode. And I learned the hard way how difficult it can be to collect accounts receivables and make payroll at the same time. My savings account was depleted quickly, and it was very difficult to recover from that hit because the cash flow in my business was so erratic.
Share your experience
Increasing your income is one of the basic tenets of Get Rich Slowly, but I bet there are a lot of people who have questions about what it's like to be in business for yourself. So I thought it would be neat if the readers would share their experience and advice in the comments about the pitfalls and difficulties of working for yourself.
Are you thinking about starting a new business? What questions do you have about venturing out on your own? What do you think it will be like? If you have been in business for yourself, what advice can you offer?
[We're reaching out to talk to readers about their experiences as a business owner for future articles. Have you had extraordinary success in business or could your experiences help someone else make better choices? We'd love to talk to you. Contact Linda Vergon at firstname.lastname@example.org.]