running your own business essay

running your own business essay

The Benefits and Challenges of Running Your Own Business

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1. Introduction to Entrepreneurship

Who are today’s entrepreneurs, and what are they like? Broadly defined, an entrepreneur is someone who perceives opportunity, creates an organization to pursue the opportunity, and assembles the resources to convert the idea into a business. Entrepreneurs can be found in any industry or any country, whether they work for international conglomerates or in their own hometown. They can range from small businesses to franchises, joint ventures to family-owned businesses. What are the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs? What are the personal qualities that successful entrepreneurs bring to their job? Many anecdotes and stereotypes describe entrepreneurs as “inspirational leaders,” “adult risk-takers,” and “staunch individualists.” Yet, an attempt at a comprehensive definition of the “real entrepreneur” would be both broad and sketchy. Some entrepreneurs are high school dropouts who have climbed to the top through hard work and determination, but there are many other equally successful pitches with advanced degrees in business from top universities, with or without some previous work experience. Some entrepreneurs are highly competitive with no-nonsense management styles; others are quiet leaders who have the ability to get people to work as a team. Some entrepreneurs can read balance sheets with ease but lack people skills. Others depend on their ability to assess and motivate their employees. Some entrepreneurs share the specific characteristics pertinent to their industry, while others do not. Regardless of the diversity, entrepreneurs hold some broad characteristics in common.

For many people, the prospect of starting their own business and becoming their own boss is an important goal. Some professionals have skills and contacts that make starting their own business seem like the next logical step. Others are exhilarated by the process of identifying business opportunities and finding ways to capitalize on these opportunities. Still, others seek to escape the uncertainty, stress, and lack of satisfaction that often accompanies working for others. They want their careers to reflect their values, and being in charge of their own business is a satisfying way of fulfilling these values. Yet, not everyone is cut out to embark on an entrepreneurial venture. Some people are frightened by the prospect of risking their money and that of others in a business that may ultimately fail. Others are overwhelmed by the amount of work required to start a business, or they lack the vision required to identify and capitalize on a new business opportunity. In this chapter, we will examine both the benefits and the problems associated with starting one’s own business.

2. Advantages of Running Your Own Business

1. Flexibility and Work-Life Balance. One of the biggest motivations for many small business owners around the country is the need for a different lifestyle. More free time and flexibility to enjoy your family, leisure activities or hobbies, travel, and a social life are all on the list. But flexibility often goes hand in hand with juggling a multitude of responsibilities like working late into the night, missing many vacations, and renovations to the home. There will be trade-offs. No longer will you have a secure paycheck that shows up regardless of the work you do or how much of it there is. Business risks require you to put money, effort, and time into your business before any individual services or products are sold, and often make personal sacrifices by putting everything into your venture, including your resources and home.

Owning your own business comes with unique features that aren’t often found in traditional employment. The idea of setting your own hours, creating a unique, personalized experience for your customers, and having more control over your future is what draws people to the idea of business ownership. Understanding why you’d want to open your own business is the first step in deciding if business ownership is right for you.

3. Challenges Faced by Business Owners

Like many small business owners who may be too optimistic when forecasting sales and downplay the amount of money needed to operate the business, you may underestimate the problems you will face in running the business. As they say, it’s hard to see the forest due to the array of trees in the way. But never losing your perspective—both personal and business—can make things easier and more enjoyable in the long run, during those challenging times all entrepreneurs must face.

In an ideal world, every business would be profitable from the start and every challenge would quickly be resolved. In the real world, starting and running a business involves much trial and error, a great deal of hard work, fierce competition, expanding government red tape, unexpected slowdowns in the economy, mounting personal stress, and paying for company obligations that aren’t planned for. Plus, as the owner, you work longer hours (with fewer and briefer vacations) than if you were an employee of someone else. But many of the same traits that help you start your own business can see you through these challenges. More important are continuing to keep close ties within your family and community to keep a healthy perspective in life and, above all, objectively facing the problems you encounter day-to-day.

4. Key Strategies for Success in Entrepreneurship

4.1 The Business Plan The beginning of a new business is a crucial time, and some vital groundwork needs to be done. Each potential entrepreneur should prepare a business plan, a written summary of business goals and long-term direction. The business-related insecurities many individuals face will be reduced, for the process itself develops problem-solving skills and answers to many questions. The plan can also be used to present ideas to financiers and colleagues to outline the advantages of the business model compared to alternatives. It can also serve as a communications vehicle and guide to decision-making. Although direct interaction with experienced business people often cannot be replaced, preparing a business plan is a good way to start. Finally, the plan can be updated to mirror any changes and keep the business focused on its goals. Offset the benefits and estimate the costs of each choice, always searching for profitable opportunities.

The benefits of entrepreneurship are many: being one’s own boss, creating with your imagination, and contributing something useful to society. Entrepreneurship also entails unique challenges and involves many risks and rewards. Individuals choosing an entrepreneurial livelihood should consider the challenges and rewards carefully. Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires an understanding of how to plan, open, and operate a small business. This section discusses some key strategies for starting a new firm and operating it successfully.

5. Conclusion and Final Thoughts

For many people who have proven themselves out in the world with years of experience, the decision to start their own business holds great appeal. The ideas of controlling your future, possibly making more money or the perception of making more money, setting your own hours, and generally the old adage of “being your own boss” provide almost unparalleled appeal. People from all economic walks, education, and dreams lay successful paths for other business owners to follow every day. And just maybe, you have what it takes to be the next legendary business owner. The only way to find out is to try, but you must know thyself.

Being a business owner is not for the faint of heart. It is a path of extreme highs and lows, and success is never guaranteed. For the right individual and idea, it offers a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment, and potential financial rewards that are all well beyond what is possible under almost any other path. Nevertheless, if you asked a business owner to trade the life they live running their business for anything else, it would be hard to find any substantial number that would say yes. Even in the face of overwhelming odds, being a business owner has a magnetism to it that once you taste it, it is almost impossible to give up. After all, life was meant to be lived, not just dreamed about. There is tremendous value in the ability to succeed or fail on your abilities and vision alone.

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