Business Ownership – Everything Is Not Always As It Seems

Jim Blasingame

Whether you’re dreaming of being a business owner or are actually working on that dream right now, one thing is the same: You don't want your dream to become a nightmare. And one of the best ways to accomplish this is to learn as much as you can about how this dream will play out.

Of the many motivations that would cause someone to have a business-owner dream, allow me to introduce four that are common to all of us. And just below each one, I’m including a counter-balancing reality following a quote from a popular movie. In “The Karate Kid,” reluctant sensei, Mr. Miyagi, imparted the following broken-English wisdom to his protégé, "Daniel-san,” when he said: “Ev'ryting not always as seem.”

Reason 1: Achieve financial independence, if not wealth.

Good for you! Who could have a problem with this business-ownership motivation? The pursuit of financial independence is a primordial motivator, and business ownership is an excellent and high percentage way to achieve it.

"Ev'ryting not always as seem."

Do you know how much most small business owners take home in a year? Most make less than they could earn as an employee. And even though you could hit that financial home run, there’s a much greater chance you’ll just make a living. But if you truly love being a business owner, that’ll be OK.

Reason 2: To have more control of your life.

This is an absolute possibility. As a business owner, you can focus your energy and time in the direction you want your life to go, rather than hitching your wagon to someone else's star. Plus, you should be able to get away to attend your children's school events. That was a big deal for me.

"Ev'ryting not always as seem."

Even though business owners don’t punch a clock, most work harder than they ever did as an employee. A thousand things – including customers and even employees – will combine to demand more of you than any former boss. But here’s the good news: You can work half days whenever you want, and you get to choose which 12 hours. Being responsible for everything your business does, or fails to do, will fight you for control.

Reason 3: Status.

It's true, owning your own business provides, as Frasier Crane would say, a certain je ne sais quoi – a difficult-to-describe feeling that you’ve arrived. You're at the top of the heap. It may be a small heap, but it's your heap. 

"Ev'ryting not always as seem."

Congratulations on the first thing you’ll be in your own company – the president. But before you get too full of yourself, you’ll also be the first salesperson, receptionist, accountant, janitor – you get the picture. Status is mercurial. If you ever achieve it, remember this: The status god giveth and the status god taketh away. 

Reason 4: Ego.

In the chemistry of entrepreneurship, one of the active ingredients is ego. It's like ambition, except more about you than your goals. In its positive form, ego manifests as perseverance and determination, two things you definitely need to succeed in business. Indeed, many of the great innovations from which we benefit today were born of ego.

"Ev'ryting not always as seem."

As a small business owner, you’ll snatch crumbs of ego food where you can find it. On the same day that your beautiful new website is launched, your best customer will change vendors. When sales are down, expenses are up, and your banker’s on the phone about an overdraft, your ego will feel more like a beagle than a lion. I have it on good authority that Mr. Murphy (as in Murphy’s Law) was a small business owner. Out here on Main Street, ego is a mercurial emotion.

As you consider starting a business or taking the next step in the one you have, remember Mr. Miyagi’s wisdom and seek out the "Ev'ryting not always as seem" factors. You may need help from those who’ve been there/done that. And if someone does help you, listen closely – they’re likely giving you advice they learned from a lesson they’re still be making payments on.

Write this on a rock ... Dream about your business with your eyes wide open so it won’t turn into a nightmare. 

Jim Blasingame is the author of The 3rd Ingredient, the Journey of Analog Ethics into the World of Digital Fear and Greed.

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