Many of us have often contemplated it but never taken the leap into entrepreneurship. For years, my friends and I have sat around and discussed how you could make that happen. But with all the risks and potential losses, it’s hard to leave security and strike out on your own. However, nearly three years ago, life presented me with an opportunity to do just that. When I returned home after years abroad, I decided it was time to make my dream a reality. While it has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, for me, the financial and personal benefits have more than made it worth going into business for yourself.
What Are the Risks of Going into Business for Yourself?
Change is hard for many of us. And, it’s even more terrifying when you have to make life-changing decisions, such as starting a business. No one can deny that there are serious risks involved.
The Financial Risks
First off, there are no guarantees that you will be successful or earn a steady income. If there are significant startup costs, that increases the financial stakes as well. And with a volatile market, it’s risky to attempt any new business venture right now. Furthermore, those who are entering saturated markets will face greater competition and find it even more difficult to achieve success.
The truth is that 20% of all new businesses fail within two years. If you don’t have a solid business plan in place, you could find yourself facing bankruptcy.
The Personal Risks
Any new business owner will tell you the same thing: starting a new business is a huge time investment. Unfortunately, as your business demands more of your time and attention, it could affect your personal life. Maintaining this balance is crucial. However, with so many people depending on me and several other time commitments, I know this will be a never-ending struggle.
The other major concern for me was the potential effect on my mental health. With all the added stress, I wasn’t sure how it would affect my anxiety, especially as my family was dealing with the care of multiple members facing serious medical conditions. Although some don’t calculate these risks into their decision, it has an impact on your productivity, quality of life, and job satisfaction.
Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?
The moment I made the decision was when I realized that the benefits would outweigh the risks. I was unhappy in my current field, returning to a place I hadn’t lived in for over a decade, and needed something that gave me flexibility. My job prospects were limited, so I started thinking outside the box. After some debate, it seemed like a good opportunity to finally see if my business idea would hold water. When I assessed my worst-case scenario, I didn’t have much to lose.
My biggest advantage was that online consulting has very little overhead costs. I only spend about 5% of my annual earnings on business expenses. Since I only need my computer and a strong wi-fi signal, I can generate more profit in a shorter amount of time. I have also established a few long-term clients and contracts that offer some stability. As long as I maintain these relationships and continue building my reputation, there will be a steady demand in the future.
However, the greatest benefit has been the improved quality of life. In the beginning, it was stressful. But once I learned how to manage my time and got things running, I have more free time since I have more control and flexibility to set my own schedule. This has allowed me to take care of both my professional needs and my personal relationships since I can be there when they need me. I’m simply happier all around when I don’t have to answer to superiors and can decide how I conduct business. Rather than dreading the workday ahead, I look forward to it. And you really can’t put a price on happiness.
What Is the Deciding Factor for Going into Business for Yourself?
For those who are asking themselves if now is the right time to start a new business, remember, this is not a decision you should make lightly. Discuss it with your family, friends, and your financial advisor to help you assess your idea.
However, the deciding factor will come down to a tough, personal choice. Are you willing to commit your time, energy, and finances to your idea? Because it will require all of them to make it a reality. Therefore, take the time to evaluate whether you have a viable business plan and the capacity to commit the resources needed before you dive in.
Once I made this choice to go all in, everything else fell into place with a cascading effect. It became clear who and what was most important in my life. This set my priorities. And, it helped me to see how going into business for myself would help me achieve my goals. I wanted a career that brought me personal satisfaction and enough income to support myself. Rather than keeping my personal and professional life separated, I began using them to support one another. When I stopped compartmentalizing these aspects of my life, I immediately achieved a better work-life balance and overall satisfaction in life.
Nothing worth having comes easily, and building a successful business doesn’t happen overnight. It will require your blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. I won’t sugar-coat it and tell you that starting my own business has been a breeze. It has been a lot of long hours and hard work. But now that I see the results, it has been well worth every sacrifice along the way.
Have you made the decision to start your own business? What are your thoughts…was it worth it, or a waste?
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.