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Is running a business really for you?

Many people start their own business because they hope it will provide more income. Others seek greater flexibility to balance work with family life. However, the reality of running your own business can be a shock.

Working for yourself

To fund your new business, you might have to invest personal savings or use your possessions to guarantee money you borrow. Alternatively, you might borrow money from friends or family. You and they need to consider the full implications if the business were to fail and you couldn’t afford to repay them.

Running a small business is unpredictable – starting one even more so. It can take years to become profitable, no matter how good your idea. At first, you might not be able to draw a wage, which might mean relying on someone else’s income (ie spouse, parent, etc). The longer this goes on, the more likely it could place strain on the relationship.

You must be prepared to accept a lower wage or even none when establishing your business. You might be fine with that – but what about others who will be affected?

You’ll probably have to forgo perks, pension, holidays, overtime and even sick pay. Many small-business owners will tell you they could earn more money and have an easier life if they worked for someone else.

Being your own boss 

You must be prepared to work long hours. The daily demands of running your own business can overtake your life, as the lines between home and work become blurred.

You might have to give up your evenings and weekends. Many business owners use such times to catch up on admin tasks – some of which can be dull and draining. You might have to do this while the kids are making a racket or you’re being pressured to take care of domestic chores.

And don’t expect time off. Many people who work for themselves can’t take four weeks' holiday each year. You might have to give up social activities you enjoy, for a time, at least. Friends and family might not get to see you as much as you or they would like.

It’s easy to get carried away with the attractive aspects of starting a business, but the reality is you’ll probably have to be your own receptionist, admin assistant, delivery person, cleaner and caretaker, too, initially, at least.

The responsibility of running your own business

Running your own business will inevitably involve greater responsibility. You’ll have to make many important decisions, which creates pressure, especially when your livelihood and possibly that of your employees is at stake. You might also have a family to support – what if things go wrong?

You might not always be able to seek advice, which can leave you feeling isolated. Family and friends can be a great source of support – and being able to share your trials, tribulations and triumphs is important. Of course there are free professional sources of support available, so be sure to use them.

Starting your own business remains one of the most exciting decisions you can make. The rewards – financial and otherwise – can be great, as many millions of people in the UK have found out. But there are implications you need to consider carefully.

Running your own business can be a rollercoaster. There’ll be days when you wonder why you did it – and others when you wouldn’t have it any other way.

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