Be Your Own Boss: The Reality

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“Be your own boss.” Ah, that phrase is too often casually thrown around. To many people, that sure sounds like living the dream; having a whole lot of fun doing what you love without having to answer to anyone else is surely a goal we should all be striving to achieve, right? Wrong. Not if we’re not wired for the daily grind that ensues or we don't possess the necessary work ethic to survive the invariable challenges, especially in the startup phase of our business. The reality for most self-employed people who consider themselves their own boss is far from the utopian perception those four words appear to convey. As of matter of fact, most people who go that route end up failing and inevitably settle for finding a new boss.

Starting a company of your own is arguably one of the most difficult things you can do. It is daunting and once you do become your own so-called boss, the actual experience can be maddening. The reality is, the moment you choose to forfeit employment for entrepreneurship, you immediately go from comfort to discomfort, security to insecurity, and certainty to uncertainty. Your pay is no longer guaranteed as you are neither salaried nor hourly, paid bi-monthly or monthly. On the contrary, you work round the clock, are always open for business, and always stressed about your business. Even if you have seed funding or a business loan to start, you are still likely to face myriad challenges along the journey. Moreover, the risks are magnified when they are all yours to bear, and the sleepless nights begin since profits and losses are yours and only yours to contend with. 

In this work environment, you can no longer afford to go through the motions, to stretch every minute of that 30-minute or hour-long lunch break, to watch the clock tick until 5 pm so you can go home. No, as your own boss, you are always in motion, you don’t know what a lunch break is, your time literally becomes your money, and you never truly get to go home. Regardless of the nature of your business, it goes without saying that you will need to acquire (paying) customers or clients to stay afloat, generate revenues, capture your ROI per the timeline set in your business plan, and enter a profitable phase, let alone growth phase. Just how much work do you think that takes for one man or woman? Eight hours a day? Please...

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Let’s be clear, the merits of being your own boss are well documented and its reward is a fulfilling lifestyle worth pursuing. However, if you attempt to become an entrepreneur while holding on to an employee mindset, you will fail, almost immediately. With such an ordinary work ethic, you are unlikely to attain the independence or the time and financial freedom often associated with being your own boss. One of the most popular definitions of entrepreneurship I hear thrown around today is, “Entrepreneurship is doing what others are unwilling to do for a while so that you can afford to live how others can’t for the rest of your life.” 

Well, there’s no time like the present; if you do aspire to be able to live how others can’t tomorrow, you’d better be able to work like others don’t today, and every day until that tomorrow dawns. And even when that day comes when you can finally afford to live and work freely and independently of any boss because your business is growing and thriving and you’ve achieved your financial goals, the grind doesn’t stop because the uncertainties in the marketplace persist as does your competition. As a matter of fact, it is then you will need even more mettle and a near-obsessive work ethic because the only thing harder than becoming successful is staying successful. Godspeed. 

Yours truly,

Kenny, Chief Wordsmith