Is Owning a Business Right for You?
When Rick was laid off from work in 2010, along with job hunting, he spent a good six months looking into the idea of owning a business with his best friend. The four of us (Rick, his buddy and us wives) looked at tons of potential business prospects. We looked at franchises in the automotive and food services industries. We looked at existing retail businesses. We looked at starting our own retail business. We looked at existing businesses in the service industry.
Suffice it to say, we spent many hours researching every detail of a good many businesses, getting our financials in order (we had no debt at the time aside from our mortgage) and considering what type of business we could own that would feed our families and fit in best with our husbands’ gifts and talents.
It was a long, arduous task that cost a bit of money in travel and research expenses, but it was worth every dime, because in the end, Rick was able to figure out that, at that time, owning a business wasn’t right for him. At that stage in his life, he was better off being an employee and he knew it, but only because of the extensive research he’d done on owning a business. Here I’ve listed some of the questions you might want to ask yourself before you jump into business ownership.
When it Comes to Owning a Business, Choose Something You Enjoy
If you’re set on owning a business, it’s crucial to be certain you’re doing something you like. When it comes to self-employment, John and his wife Nicole can attest to the fact that if you’re going own a successful business, you’ll likely spend a ton of hours each week building and maintaining it. With that being the case, it’s imperative that you choose a business you’ll know you like doing, or that you can afford to hire someone to do for you who also enjoys what you’re doing.
In our case, one business we looked at seriously for a good long time was the concession business. Food concessions at fairs can bring in some serious cash, and if you’ve read my blog, you’ll know I love to cook, so this seemed like a good potential business for a lot of reasons. However, Rick and I both worked in food service when we were younger, and as we sat and thought about the prospect of being stuck in a trailer with deep fryers all day, we realized that this was NOT the ideal way for us to spend our days, and we chose to let the business prospect fall by the wayside.
Business ownership requires a lot of work, and you’ll be much happier if you’re doing that work in a business arena that is motivating and exciting to you. (Editor’s note: Laurie’s dead on here. If we were doing something we didn’t enjoy I know we would’ve thrown in the towel a long time ago.)
Make Sure You Have a Well-Rounded Team
Another crucial aspect to discovering whether or not business ownership is right for you is to analyze your own personality and the personality of any potential business partners. When we were looking for businesses with our friends, we figured out that we all had certain personality traits that would do well in business: Rick is a detail-oriented person, his buddy is a big picture guy. I’m stellar at customer service and the wife of Rick’s friend is great at accounting. These are all qualities that are needed, either by the owner or by someone the owner hires, in order to own a business successfully.
When considering owning a business, it’s imperative to make sure that all of the bases needed to give that business the best chance for success are covered. Missing even one crucial element, such as organization, can take even the most promising of businesses down real quick.
The Right Attitude
One particular business that looked promising to Rick and his friend was a business that would’ve been very complimentary to the auto insurance industry. As part of his research, Rick called our insurance agent, who we’ve known for years, and asked his thoughts about the business. Jeff gave him a thumbs up on the potential success of the service offered, and after that, he gave Rick a very crucial piece of advice. He said “My insurance business is doing very well now, but when I first started out, it was hard. I spent the first five years knocking on doors, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, and most of the people turned me down. Those were the toughest 5 years of my life.”
That was the one piece of information Rick needed to hear in order to decide that, at least at the time, business ownership wasn’t right for him. Soon after, Rick got a job at another company in his field, and it’s been a great experience for him. He likes his work, he’s challenged in his job and he’s making more money than he’s ever made before.
Our experience taught me that owning a business isn’t the ideal option for everyone, but it does work out well for many people. Just make sure, like we did, that you’ve covered all of your bases and done all of your research before you take the plunge.
Have you ever thought about owning your own business or are you already self-employed? What process did you go through in evaluating whether or not taking the plunge was right for you and your family?
Photo courtesy of: Simone Lovati