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Starting Your Own Business: Reality Check

Starting your own business sounds like a great way to increase your income without having to work as hard. Why spend your days grinding away for a company that doesn’t appreciate what you’re doing when you could make your own money? Even better: why not have other people make the money for you? Unfortunately, life as an entrepreneur isn’t all sitting by the pool with your laptop and your phone, taking vacations whenever you want. There are several harsh financial realities of entrepreneurship that you should consider before taking the jump to starting your own business.

Reality Check #1: Your Working Hours Increase

When you work for someone else, you get to clock in at 9, clock out at 5, and leave work behind when you head for home. As a business owner, you’re on call all the time. You can’t just work your shift and disappear–and you don’t always have employees to hand things off to, either. In fact, you may find yourself working 10-14 hour days for the foreseeable future. Not only that, you’re not going to be compensated fairly for those hours for a while. While your income will be more likely to increase based on the time and effort you put in, it’s not going to magically go up just because you worked extra hours this week, either.

Reality Check #2: Owning Your Own Business is Expensive

As a startup, you’re working out of your spare room…er, home office. It’s entirely possible that all you need is a computer and your cell phone to get started–and you’re already paying for those anyway, right? Unfortunately, there are several expenses associated with small business ownership that you may not have considered.

  • You’ll have to pay for your own insurance. Unless you have a working spouse whose healthcare plan will cover you and your dependents, this cost can add up fast!
  • Repairs and replacements to your equipment can add up fast.
  • Shrinkage is a real thing: if you deal with inventory, you have to face the possibility that some will be stolen or damaged.
  • Business insurance will help protect you, but it also costs! It’s even more expensive if you do end up facing a lawsuit or having to file a claim for another reason.
  • Many types of businesses require a business license in order to get started, making your initial cost of doing business even higher.

Reality Check #3: Taxes Hurt

When you’re operating a small business, you might not have a lot of money coming in at first. Unfortunately, that doesn’t remove your tax obligation. When you’re self-employed, you still have to pay taxes–and you may discover that the amount you have to pay is more than you expected, especially in the beginning, when your income is low. In other cases, you may have associated annual fees associated with your business.

Reality Check #4: Employees Have Expectations

Employees are a necessity for most small businesses. Unless you’re operating a consulting firm of one or operating an online store that never has more orders than you can pack, chances are, somewhere down the road, you’re going to need hire employees to help. The trouble is, employees are expensive! Not only do they expect a salary, they need their own equipment, offices, and, most importantly, benefits. Those costs can add up fast, and in order to pay them, your business must be making enough to support the cost.

Owning your own business might be a great way to make the most of your skills. Certainly you’ll never have to answer to a bad boss again–though you’ll now be answerable to your customers, which can be just as bad. Before you get started, however, make sure you have a good idea of the financial realities. Sitting down with a financial planner before you start your business is a great way to be sure that you’re prepared for the realities of business ownership.