Ever have a dream or desire to be your own boss? Self-employment can sound pretty appealing, especially on those days when you’re totally fed up with your current situation.

Before you decide to open a new business, buy an existing one, or purchase a franchise, give thought to some of these pros and cons of being your own boss.

Pros

1. The chance to pursue a dream. The idea of being your own boss, with the freedom to make decisions, is pretty powerful. How many times have we felt “if only I ran the show, things would be different?” There’s a great sense of pride and satisfaction in seeing your hard work pay off.

2. Financial. Most all of us personally know a business owner doing quite well for themselves. For many of us, JOB means “just over broke.” Working an hourly job makes it tough to get ahead, so self-employment could be the answer.

Cons

1. A failure to plan and not being prepared to work lots of hours. With the freedom to make decisions comes the responsibility of being accountable for not just your “job,” like with your corporate employment, but decisions and tasks you’d likely never even considered. If you’re not a dedicated self-starter, think long and hard about opening or buying a business. Create a plan… get advice from others… and work that plan. One advantage in buying a franchise is the planning has already been tried and has been successful. All you have to do, in theory, is follow their established plan.

2. Lack of capital. Most new business fail due to lack of adequate resources. Do you have enough savings and/or access to funding to ensure survival through those lean years while you ramp things up? Self-employment equates to living off commission, as in 100% commission sales. If you’ve been used to collecting a regular paycheck, how will it feel when you go days, weeks or perhaps even months with nothing? Will your loved ones be supportive of you through that trying time?

3. Lack of skill. Wait, you know how to do the job, so what does that mean? Hear me out. Let’s say, for example, you’re great at computer repair or perhaps home remodeling. But are you also good at sales and marketing? You have to sell the product/service before you’re able to fix or install it. While it’s not an either/or, my experience has been that people tend to fall into either the doer category (the computer repair person) or the leader/promoter category (management, sales, marketing). Do you have skills to handle both sides? Maybe you should hire someone to help shore up that sales side.

In all my years of job coaching, I can’t recall a client ever saying they’d wished they’d never had their own business — even if it had ultimately failed. Self-employment exposes you to a host of personal and professional growth opportunities. You learn a lot about yourself along the way.

In my case, I opened a job-coaching business many years ago. Why? I knew I didn’t want to wake up at age 60 and wonder what if, so I went for it. Things ultimately didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but life’s a journey and those years of grinding it out as an entrepreneur positioned me for my current role with Goodwill. So things ended well.

Thinking of self-employment? Do your homework. Good luck!

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Randy Wooden is a long-time Triad career consultant and Director of Goodwill Industries of Northwest NC’s Professional Center. You may reach him at rwooden@goodwillnwnc.org or at 336-464-0516.

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