Is it good to start your own business? Absolutely. Should you start your own business? Maybe. Is it time to start your own business? Maybe. Maybe not.
There are some people who express themselves best through creating ideas, pioneering them and turning them into successful businesses. They do better as business owners or self-employed people. There is another group of people who can work in paid employment and also run their own business at the same time. And they are some people who are intellectuals, professionals and technocrats who function best in a structured employment position.
It is best to understand the kind of person you are and your best inclinations. One kind of person is not better than the other. If you are not ready for full-time business, it’s probably best not to resign your day job just yet and start a business just because everybody is doing it.
The fact that you are very good at what you do doesn’t mean that you should turn it into a business, necessarily. There are two parts to running your own business, especially as a self-employed person (which is usually the common way to start). There’s the actual work of the business (here, you’re working IN the business), and there’s the work of building the business (here, you’re working ON the business).
Let me explain with a personal example. Years ago, I worked at a law firm as Legal Associate, and I was very good at what I did. I researched the law, completed legal processes and services and drafted legal documents with ease. When I got up every week day, I only had to worry about getting to work and focusing on being a lawyer. Then, due to a number of reasons, I went into business for myself and became self-employed.
At this point, apart from being an excellent lawyer, I also had to be an excellent business person. I had to learn how to find, manage and retain clients, how to compete favourably with other (and bigger) law firms, how to negotiate the terms and periods of payment, how to work with people I outsourced jobs to (I couldn’t afford regular staff), how to keep business records, how to plan for the future of the business and stay relevant on the professional scene, and so on. Sometimes, I found myself working in the middle of the night because that was when I could concentrate on the real legal work, not the hustling and business side of the work.
It is not easy to start and run a business successfully. Furthermore, to achieve work-life balance as a self-employed or business person, you need twice as much creativity and discipline. Of course, if you’re cut out for business, then it just means that you need to be well-prepared for it.
If your reason for starting a business is merely to improve your finances, it’s advisable to find an easy business model or to partner with someone who can run the business side of business (you know what I mean). You may also choose to continue working full-time and invest in a business or create other easier sources of income. If you want to do start something for another reason other than money, you may do it as a hobby or avocation, or you may you may choose to volunteer at your place of worship, a charity or a cause.
Taking on the world of business is not for everybody, and admitting this to yourself may be the first step that would liberate you to have your own unique definition of an ideal career.
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