It is an American dream: owning your own business. And while owning my own business was never my intention, it is where I ended up. Many people falsely believe that owning your own business is a panacea for financial ills. That you can just open a business and start making money. But reality is far from the dream.
The business I own is 3rd generation, passed down to me by my parents, from their parents. You might argue that I didn’t technically “start” the company, but the company that I now run looks nothing like the company my grandparents started over 60 years ago. I’ve re-invented it, several times. In essence I started a new business, out of the ashes of the old one.
Many people decide to start a business when they become un-employed, believing that they can translate their business skills into a profitable business. My decision to get involved was based on family need; with my grandfather in the hospital the family needed me to step in and take over. You could say that on that day I started my own business because I immediately set about re-making the then 40 year old company. My parents company was not doing well and had lots of potential. But my parents were not willing to take the risks I was.
And risk is a word that you need to become familiar with if you are going to start your own business. Owning a business is a risk, there is no guarantee that you will be successful. I took a risk by adding new inventory, new services, adding catalog sales (pre-internet), and taking credit cards for the first time. My risk paid off, the business grew and changed and was successful.
The advent of the internet brought new prosperity for my company. Being a self-taught computer programming expert, I designed and built a fabulous online shopping web site. And kept it on top of the search engines for years, until Google came along. The other word that you need to become familiar with in business is change. Your business will constantly be changing and you will soon find yourself out of business if you don’t keep up with the changes.
My advice to would-be business owners is, don’t. Don’t do it. Go to work for someone else. Working for someone else may not seem as glamorous but it is stable, something that can’t be said for owning your own business. I have friends who work for the government who complain about their jobs and envy my owning my own business. I tell them that I envy them their stable jobs and the retirements that will come with them. Hindsight being 20/20, I would never open my own business.