Being a small business owner is great and carries loads of plus points.
"Hi, so what is it you do?"
In this new blog series I'm going to share with you some of the insights I've learned so far in my journey from Soldier to entrepreneur business owner. Hopefully, they'll be funny, interesting and most of all useful. Enjoy.
When people you meet people for the first time one of the often heard ice breakers is "so what is it you do then?" It's a question I find hard to answer succinctly because frankly I do so much and it's so varied, but there are two ways to initially answer their enquiry:
"Oh I'm self employed"
"I own my own business"
The differing responses to these are really really interesting. In the first case quite often An early response is "oh thats so cool, being able to take time off when you want and you know have that work life balance things and all that" In the second it's often "wow that must keep you really really busy .. I bet thats hard work ? "
Like I said interesting eh? Tony Robbins, draws a tidy distinction between being self employed, or as he puts it a "business operator", and a business owner, who essentially is the decision maker for a business that is running semi independently of their daily routine.
However, in the early days of any business entity the distinction isn't so clear, and one can be, and indeed I am both simultaneously.
So thought I'd start the business bullet series off with busting the 5 top myths about being either self employed or running your own relatively new company.
1) You can choose your Days off when you like. No, you dont get to choose your time off at will with impunity, and nor do you get "more time off" You are not the only stakeholder in your business and inevitably you will have to run your calendar to suit others not just yourself, whether they be investors, shareholders, customers collaborators or potential co workers.
2) It must be so nice to work from home.This one is half true. My commute is often really really short. I can work from three offices. The one in the garden , or my living room (which houses the nerve centre of SnS on what my girls call "the Sarah desk" - slightly bigger than the starship enterprise) or our satellite project office in Newcastle. Productivity is awesome @ when you know you can be up at 0500, maybe 0530 and (after morning routine stuff) be at the computer for approximately 0630, with no wasted (read unproductive) commute time.
But: beware the comfy, beware isolation. once in a while I make point of deliberately going out and working from different locations. The key is variety, and a little bit of the next point
3)Work life balance. When you work from home what people forget is that you're effectively bringing your life into your office on daily basis. If you have kids, or share your home with others this means one thing. Distractions. So the sliding scale of work life balance is imperative and the driving force here is you. Discipline and focus to get the task done. Avoiding the distractions often requires changing your working hours from those that you might expect in the average 9-5 so, expect early starts and late finishes. Yes even after you've made the tea and tucked in the kids. Your bsuesin isn't going grow and expand, and neither are you, if you reach for the telly remote.
4) You always have to be "at work" or "you'll take "any job that comes" This is a bit of a two part-er. Everyone needs time off. In the early days of my first actual business (I'd dabbled before - but this one was my sole income) I was constant avoiding booking social events and the like "incase job came in" Obviously thats gonna piss off the family (and did) cos guess what you need to be all those other things too. parent, partner whatever. So make sure that your time "off" is a focused as your time "on" be present, other wise you'll try to do two things at one and be less than half as good at each as you could have been.
Secondly the "any job" bit is a real temptation in the early days of short cash flow and low customer numbers. Falling over yourself for any customer that may walk in. It's a trap that more often costs you more than you make. Be discerning about your customer base, and know what you can offer and profit from, lest you end up with a situation where you're providing rolls Royce Service for ford dealership prices.
5) You don't have a real business I have heard this SO many times, whether it's directed at me or it's an anecdotal thing shared when talking with other small business owners about their challenges. It can come from Friends, family or colleagues. Insidious stuff like being told "oh did you see that job advertised - you should so apply for that" (er why? I HAVE a job thanks) Or it may be from competitors who suggest that your "business" isn't gonna be whatever. Sure an Acorn isn't a real Oak tree, But it's the realest acorn you're ever gonna see. So no matter the size, scope and scale of the business currently, is sure as hell is a real business.
("real" - is poor phenomenology anyhow - The philosopher in me really bristles at this point. but I'll leave that for another blog)
So there you go. my top five myths, all of which I've personally faced. Neil Patel of Entrepreneur,.com listed his top ten myths and added in "Self employed people are unemployable" which yes I've faced too, given my history. I have to say I kinda agree with Neil on this one. We (self employed types) see the world differently. We are "possibilitarian" in outlook and see risk differently to others, so from a certain point of view that probably makes us a less than Ideal fit for employment. But I've yet to meet a successful entrepreneur, be they business operator or owner, who was lazy, lousy. They all strike me as Stubbornly Optimistic to be honest.
Have a great day out there people and remember - When you change the way you look at things.... you know the rest..!