When most people think about starting a business of their own they tend to think of a brick and mortar type business. One with a front window where people can window-shop during their lunch break, lots of inventory, and long leases. Generally, a large amount of cash wrapped up in start up costs.
This idea is a huge barrier for those who wish they could work for themselves. It’s scary. If you fail you lose your entire initial investment, and maybe even then some.
But we’re smarter than most people, and we can think outside the box. We think about leveraging the internet and social media to either keep our initial costs down or to speed up marketing efforts. We think of keeping our overhead costs low. We think about taking one step at a time as opposed to flying leaps of hope.
Starting a business at home makes those steps manageable and keeps those initial start up costs low. There may be inventory, but there are no storefronts that require leases and deposits. There are no set opening and closing hours that only work out if you quit your day job.
Because a website never closes. Nor does it care when you are there to work on it.
There is still a steep learning curve, and you are still going to need to put in the hours and effort. But with an internet based business you have a little more flexibility in the amount of time you need to turn a profit since your overhead costs are limited to those associated with maintaining a website.
The Challenges of Starting and Owning a Business
We’ve talked about the benefits of working for yourself, such as creative freedom, control over your time, and pride in creating something successful. But there are disadvantages that we should be prepared for while getting ready to start up a new venture. And it doesn’t just end at the initial learning curve.
There’s the initial investment:
You’ll invest money in creating, hosting, and maintaining a website. You’ll need to buy inventory if you are selling a tangible product. You’ll spend time creating your product or perfecting your service.
These are all investments in your business that you stand to lose if your business fails. But remember that the initial time and money investment for starting a business at home like this is significantly smaller than the one you’d need if you actually started up a store or restaurant.
And long hours:
Starting up a business yourself isn’t something you just do between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. But that’s probably something that entices you about the opportunity, right? The flexibility in working hours?
There is definitely flexibility, but the hours can be long. And frustrating. But not wasted. You’ll learn from each hour you invest in your business.
Take this blog for example. There are a lot of posts, particularly the early ones, that are a bit rough in the writing and have nothing to do with starting or running a business, or making money. Some are pretty bad.
But instead of looking at the time I spent writing those posts, I learned that I need a solid plan, a solid vision for what I want to create – something I am taking to heart in creating my food preservation blog. I also need the writing practice – ten years away from writing makes for a rusty wordsmith.
Enjoy the hard hours. Those are the hours that we will look back on fondly when we are super successful…right?
There may be no income for a while:
If you normally rely on a 9 to 5 income stream to pay your bills then you may struggle with the fluctuating income that comes with owning your own business. It’s going to take some time for you to make your first sale or get your first client.
You’re going to have good months and bad months. So you will need to be able to supplement that income until you really get your business going. This is why I don’t suggest you just up and quit your day job without a plan.
And finally, the pressure:
As I’ve said before, a perk of having your own business is that you measure your own success. And that success is all yours. But so is any failure.
Just remember that failure is perfectly OK as long as you learn from it. If you start small, you may win small at first. But you’ll lose small too. As you learn more and start putting some of that learning curve behind you, the wins will get bigger and the losses will become less frequent.
What Kind of Person Will Be Successful
Failure is a risk you have to take when you start your own business. If you can learn from your failures and persevere then you will be strongly on the road to success.
Some people can’t handle the thought of failure though. There are a few characteristics that will help tremendously when trying to succeed in owning a business. If any of these scare you or if you lack a lot of these, you should probably stick with just climbing the corporate ladder.
Motivation – You need the drive to succeed and accomplish goals. There isn’t going to be a boss to answer to or coworkers to get you started on projects when you have your own business. You are the boss and the coworker. If you don’t do a task when it needs to get done, no one else will.
Willingness to Take Risks – Failure is a possibility. Are you OK with that? Do you have the confidence to take a risk, fail, and then keep going? Even with a small, at home business, you will be putting your pride, time, and money on the line.
Decision Making Abilities – Again, there is no one that is going to make decisions for you regarding your business. It’s only you. You need to be able to see the vision you want for your business and then make the decision that will make that vision a reality.
Communication and Technical Skills – While communication and technical skills can be learned and improved upon, they are absolutely necessary. If you can’t communicate what your business is about then no one is going to buy your product or service. If you don’t have the skills to create your product or complete your service, then what are you selling.
Vision – Anyone can say that they want to work for themselves or own a business. But if you can’t come up with an idea, a product, or a service that you can sell then you have a problem, especially if you want to start a business from home. Of course, you can always buy a business that is already successful. But going that route typically takes a hefty initial investment that you’d be risking.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting a Business at Home
Starting a business at home is a great opportunity to take control of your life and career. You can create whatever you’d like as long as there is someone willing to pay you for your product or service.
If I haven’t scared you off yet, consider asking yourself a few questions before you get started.
- Are you a self-starter?
- Can you stay organized, on task, and get things done by a deadline you set for yourself?
- Can you hold yourself accountable?
- Are you trustworthy and can you communicate that trustworthiness to your prospective customers?
- Do you have the drive to learn whatever skills you may lack?
- Can you create a strong vision of what you want to accomplish?
Be honest when answering these questions, the only one who will judge you is you.