Maybe you’re bored with the 9-5 grind or worried about the stability of your current job, and you’ve dreamed about starting your own business. The attraction of controlling your own schedule and career is undeniably powerful. Not to mention breaking out of the daily commute and working from the comfort of home. While working for yourself does have benefits, the lifestyle isn’t for everyone. If you’re thinking about diving into self-employment, make sure you’ve thought realistically about these 5 myths:
Working from home means less work
If you’re starting your own business, you’ll most likely be working from home. And we all know what that means…relaxing days, lounging in your pajamas until dinner. But in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Entrepreneurs often find they need to work longer hours than they would at the office; in fact, you might be trading in the 9 to 5 for 9 to midnight. And while you’ve got the flexibility to throw in a errand or two midday, you will have to contend with blurred lines between your personal and work day. Many entrepreneurs find themselves checking email late into the evening. Particularly early one, you’ll most likely have to take care of everything yourself. So be disciplined with your work time ¾ and most importantly, make sure you’re doing something you love.
I can watch my kids while working from home
Let’s face it. No matter where you live, childcare is not cheap. I’ve spoken to countless women who want to start their own business to be able to spend more time with their kids and save on childcare expenses. There’s no doubt that the ability to work from home and control your own schedule is a blessing for many mothers. However, you need to be realistic about the situation. How much time will you be able to dedicate to your business? How will you create a definite line between ‘mommy time’ and ‘business time’? You may need to bring in childcare for a few hours a day to let you concentrate on a conference call or project. Or with older children, you can create an ‘office’ (even if it’s just a corner of the room) where you can’t be disturbed.
Freelancing means not having a boss
On paper, you may be your own CEO. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have to answer to anyone. In reality, you’re going to have many, many bosses ¾ your clients and customers. Just as you might work to please your boss at an office job, you’re going to be working just as hard, if not harder, to meet the needs of your clients. And if they’re not happy, you’ve lost a sale or billable work. Of course, there is one major difference. As a self-employed business owner, you are in complete control over who you choose to take on as clients and customers.
I don’t have to worry about the legal stuff
Too often, female entrepreneurs consider their ventures too small to worry about forming a business structure…that having an Inc or LLC after the company name is only for those businesses with mazes of cubicles and countless employees. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Even the self-employed writer or family-run catering business should consider how to incorporate a business or form an LLC. First and foremost, the LLC (Limited Liability Company) and Corporation protect the owner’s personal assets from any liability of the company. That is, if your company happens to be sued, your personal assets (i.e. property, savings accounts) are shielded from any judgment. In addition, federal income tax rates can be lower for corporations than for individuals. And as a corporation, you may be entitled to additional deductions that are not available to you as an individual.
I should wait until the economy really turns around to start my business
Considering the economy, real estate market, and jobs outlook have dominated conversations for several years, it’s natural for many entrepreneurs to believe they should wait until the economy turns around before making a go of their idea. However, it can actually make sense to start a business during a down economy. For starters, your business costs are lower: real estate prices are down, advertising and other services are heavily discounted, and you can find very talented individuals willing to help you for significantly less than during a boom time. It’s also easier to find partners and vendors eager to work with you. And, you can take advantage of the downtime to develop your product, branding, and service offerings — so you’ll be ready to roll once consumer purse strings start to loosen. With challenge, there is always opportunity.
Make no mistake. I don’t want to deter any budding entrepreneur from following her dreams. I believe that women-run small businesses will fuel the economy’s recovery. Starting and managing your own business can be incredibly rewarding. However, starting your venture with the blinders off and a realistic set of expectations is your best chance for success.