Many people talk about starting their own business, but few ever put their plans into action. For years, I’ve talked about striking out on my own, until I finally had the opportunity to do it. Despite all the risks and reasons to cling to stability, I decided to make a change. After weighing the pros and cons of going into business for yourself, I took the leap into entrepreneurship.
Creating a Business Plan
Change can be hard, especially if you are making important financial decisions that will affect your future. And no one can deny that there are many risks involved with going into business for yourself. However, I approached this decision like I do all problems: I took a step back, evaluated the situation, and made a plan. Or in this case, I made a business plan.
With the digital shift and the world transitioning to a remote work environment, there are new opportunities. And, there are new career options for virtual services. So, I decided to take a gamble and cash in on my education and work experience to try something new. After talking with my financial advisor, I had a sound plan and projections for a sustainable consulting business.
Is it Worth Going Into Business for Yourself?
As I debated my options, I made a pro and con list to help me decide if it was worth going into business for myself.
1. There are no overhead costs.
Since I offer digital services, there are virtually no startup or operating costs. All I need is my computer and a strong wi-fi connection. Additionally, the money I make is almost pure profit since I spend less than 5% of my annual income on business expenses.
2. I can work anywhere.
Working online allows me to travel and work from anywhere. I started as a digital nomad when I lived in Mexico, and I continued as I traveled across Europe and moved to Asia. Now that I’m back in the U.S., my business continues to thrive with new clients.
3. I work with others from around the world.
I am a social creature, and I enjoy collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds. My lifestyle has allowed me the unique opportunity to meet and work with people from around the world. Different jobs have opened up for me based on my skill set and the country I was in. The time and locale changes brought new opportunities as well.
4. It offers flexibility.
I’ve discovered that I work best with more autonomy. Now, I can work how I want, when I want. While I still have deadlines to meet, I set my schedule from day to day. This gives me greater flexibility and a better work/life balance. I can rearrange my schedule around appointments, family, or other events I want to attend during regular business hours. And, I can work shorter weeks or evenings to accommodate for social functions and vacations.
5. My business is sustainable.
As the workforce continues to shift online, the demand for remote digital services will remain steady. Since I am focusing on building a strong reputation and maintaining good relationships with current clients, there is a good chance for continued collaboration and a stable income. My business can offer me a sustainable source of income and allow me to build my own wealth.
6. It provides an improved quality of life.
I’ve worked in the corporate world since I was 16 years old. When I considered starting my business, I was burned out. I was tired of working for companies with rigid corporate structures, incompetent bosses, and earning less than I deserved. Starting your own business allows you to create your ideal working environment. Not only do I feel more satisfied with my work, but I am more fulfilled by my lifestyle.
1. There are no guarantees.
Truth be told, nearly 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years. So, there are no guarantees that your business will be successful. Furthermore, the volatile market makes any new venture risky right now. Even if you find work, it may not be enough to keep your business going.
2. It is a huge time investment.
I knew that starting a business would be hard work. But knowing and realizing are two different things. In the beginning, I had trouble winning contracts and paying the bills. I stressed over finances and spent long hours working to get my business off the ground. Fortunately, it has stabilized over time. However, it continues to require my full attention and a full-time work week (sometimes more) to keep operations running smoothly.
3. It may have negative effects on your personal life.
Since you need to spend so much time attending to a fledgling business, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that other areas of your life may suffer. You will have very little free time when you are working long hours. It can also negatively affect your relationships if you become too focused on your professional goals.
4. It may have a negative impact on your health.
Those who tell you that starting your own business is stressful should win an award for the understatement of the century. I’m used to performing in high-stress environments. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for the stress of entrepreneurship. I had many sleepless nights and worked long hours. Many nights I stayed up late, fighting to make deadlines that were barely worth the payout. I had to work with difficult people and struggled to turn a profit. Sometimes it felt like it was too much, and the stress was affecting my physical health. But once I made myself a priority again, there was a better balance.
5. I still struggle with the constant doubt.
I’m an overthinker and constantly wonder if I made the right decision. This internal struggle is usually accompanied by a constant doubt that I will make my business a success. Although it has been almost three years, the doubt remains. But, the truth is that no one knows the future. Even the best business plan is subject to change and failure. It has become easier as I’ve gained more experience. But, the doubt is always looming at the back of my mind.
Deciding to Start Your Own Business
Starting a business is an important decision that requires careful thought and planning. I discussed it with friends, family, and financial planners before I made a change. After many conversations, I knew I was ready to commit my time and finances to make my idea a reality. Nothing worth having comes easy, and building a successful company won’t happen overnight.
It has been one of the greatest challenges I’ve undertaken, but also one of the most rewarding. Nothing in life is without risk, but without risk, there are no rewards.
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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.