Monday, November 08, 2004

The Myths of the Small Business

As I carry on about my life as an Internet Business Mentor, I’ve encountered a lot of misunderstandings about entrepreneurship and being self-employed. I’d like to take a couple of blog posts here to help dispel a few of those.

Myth #1: It’s easy to be self-employed

Make no mistake. Running a business is work. There are a lot of things to be done to get it started. There are lots of things to learn. This is going to require effort.

The upside of all that is that if you’ve picked a business that’s an extension of yourself, your passions, your bliss (as Campbell puts it), that effort feels less like work. It feels more like fun. For that reason, it can often seem like being self-employed is easier, because the work is more enjoyable.

Myth #2: It’s cheap to start up a home-based business

When you compare it to the cost of opening a McDonald’s franchise, or renting space in a mall, then it’s true that a home-based business is cheap-er. But don’t be lulled into the thought that it doesn’t cost money to make money.

Keep also in mind that there are costs other than financial. Time must be invested. And that’s time that’s being taken away from family or other important things.

But if you spend your money and time patiently and judiciously, the rewards are there as well. It can still move forward, even if it might not be as fast as originally thought.

Myth #3: Self-employment = Total freedom

You often see biz-op ads with people lounging by a pool on a bright sunny day. What would I do with all that spare time? With all that freedom?

As your business is building, you’ll find that it can often be more demanding that a regular job. Why? Because everything rests on your shoulders, rather than your boss’. All of your decisions are yours, and you have total freedom to make whatever decision you want, but at the same time, you also get the consequences (good and bad) of those choices. It’s your baby.

The nice thing about self-employment, though, is not so much freedom, as flexibility. You can often adjust your hours and your working time to suit. So if you want some spur-of-the moment family time, that might be possible as a business operator, where you couldn’t just say that to your boss.

Myth #4: You have no boss

The reality is quite the opposite: Every client is your boss. How you please that boss is up to you.

Myth #5: The world will flock to your door

That phrase starts out, “If you build a better mousetrap…” All too often, people rely on the cleverness of their business concept, their product, or their business model. But the reality is that people aren’t going to pound a path to your door, unless they know your door (and your product) exist. So, having a great product, or website, or business is great. But if no one ever sees it, it doesn’t matter.

But these days, it’s growing easier and easier to let the world know that you’re there. Clever and intelligent use of the web, and publicity, can get your site recognized with very little cash expenditure. Learn, learn, learn.
The point of all this? Go into it with your eyes open. Do your research, and explore your options. Those who just jump onto the rollercoaster are in for a bumpy ride.

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