One of the greatest attractions of launching a startup or owning a business is that you get to be your own boss. But is it truly that great?
I’ve asked the same question about running a business, but running yourself is an entirely different matter.
I’m a freelancer and I have my own business. Although I wouldn’t trade this freedom for any of the “dream jobs” that I had fantasized about while growing up, there is one thing I could do away with: the accountability.
Yes, you might not have to answer to anyone, but maybe that’s the problem… because if/when things go wrong, you’ll have no one to blame except yourself. And it’s worse if you’re responsible for a team (thankfully I’m not!).
Tim Berry, business planning expert, has spent years upon years of being his own boss. Here he weighs the pros and cons of employing yourself.
One of the best things about being your own boss is that you get to make all the decisions: saying yes or no to certain risks, acting on impulse, spending money, expanding your services or products, etc. You’re the captain and what you say goes (even if you’re just ordering yourself around). It’s an incredible feeling.
If you’re a natural leader, have a controlling personality, or are just very proactive, this is for you. Sometimes things go more smoothly when you take matters into your own hands… regardless of whether those matters are creative, managerial or financial.
Then, of course, all work aspects are yours to determine. Whether you want to sit at home in your pyjamas, or brainstorm ideas in a park, you get to choose where, when and how the business operates. So it’s completely up to you if you want to go online just as the sun rises, before taking your kids to school, or if you want to work for several hours straight into the night.
I would also add that being your own boss means that you assign yourself job duties and decide your career progression (which includes your salary). Everything that you do for the business, you’re doing for yourself—and with that comes a greater sense of satisfaction. Ultimately, how far you want to go is your own choice.
Despite what the title of this post says, is there really such a thing as being your own boss? Berry implies otherwise:
“Your customers are your boss. Your clients are your boss…
Your commitments—to vendors, to allies, to business activities—are your boss…
If you have employees, there are some ways in which your employees are your boss…
In a business, the health of your business is your boss.”
Well that doesn’t sound so great anymore, does it?
Earlier I mentioned something about not being answerable to anyone, but the fact is that you are. You’re the one who has to stay up all night without sleep, all because you agreed to complete an urgent project for a client who’s depending on you. Since you have your own routine, there’s no good reason why it shouldn’t get done.
All the deadlines you agreed to, all the promises you made and contracts you signed, they’re all on you. And it never ends. No matter how successful you get, if you want to keep that success, you have to maintain or exceed a certain level of excellence and professionalism.
Every little failure or shortcoming gets magnified tenfold because when you look around for someone to blame, you’ll find that the fault lies in only you and the way you run things. Plus, if you are an employer, you have to go above and beyond because anything that your employees do, you’ll have to take one step further. You’re constantly being watched and the moment you start to slip, so does everyone else.
Lastly, there’s the responsibility: wages, equipment, rent (if you have an office), budgeting, business output… the list can and does go on. So if you understand the risks and can handle all that, then go for it!