A sign that says open visa in front of a store window.

The Downsides of Owning Your Own Business

Don’t get me wrong: running my own business has been a real blessing. I can count on one hand how many football and lacrosse games I’ve missed. As a dad of twin boys, I know how important it is for me to be present in their lives.

Next week I’m off for my annual men’s golf retreat. This will be the sixth year.

I also get to work on the things I’m passionate about and I don’t need to sit down with a boss for a year-end performance review. And I really don’t miss the politics that I encountered in corporate America.  I now get to pick whom I want to work with!

So while there are a lot of good things about owning your own business, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t highlight a few of the downsides that come with the “Founder and Owner†title.  Other business owners might give you a different list, but here’s the one that I’d like to share with you:

  • Financial uncertainty: Now that I no longer have it, I sure do miss that bi-weekly paycheck.  It was something that I could count on, get a loan on and squirrel some savings from.  Now, I’m never really sure what’s going to come in during the month and even though I’m owed money, a client might not pay as promised.

And the benefits that I took for granted while working for a large company, such health insurance, paid vacation, pension, 401 k, stock options, are all things that I need to cover.

  • Demanding work schedule / stress: Since you own it… you own it. There is no one to blame but you. Sometimes I take on more work than I should, nervous that my work-pipeline might dry up. Over commitment leads to long hours and stress. When you own your own business, you can never really shut it down or disconnect.
  • Limited resources: When you own your own business, especially a small one, you are always lacking in resources. So what happens is that you do the work even though your time would be better spent on doing something else. An example would be sending a package via FedEx or booking a flight, hotel and rental car. In a large corporation you have specialists who do this for you so you can focus on what you are good at.
  • Distractions: Business owners, especially those who work from home, face many distractions. In October we got a puppy to replace our dog that died in April. The guy is cute as can be, but he’s a real distraction. Puppy’s have small bladders and need to go out a lot. They also love to bite at your ankles while you’re trying to conduct a webinar. And because you are working from home, your spouse might want to load some of those chores on you that he/she can’t get to.
  • Loneliness and Isolation: I do try to get out of the house as often as I can and meet clients in their office or at a local coffee shop. But in reality, a lot of time is spent at my desk and in front of my computer. I’ll see people on webinars and talk to them by phone, but sometimes days pass and I haven’t physically shaken someone’s hand. Working this way, if your are not careful, can lead to loneliness, isolation, and in server cases, depression.

I could add one or two more bullets to the list, but I really want to keep a balance between the pros and cons of running your own business. There will be days when you love being your own boss and other days when you question the sanity of your decision to start your own business.