The Pros and Cons of Owning a Small Business

Jethro Solomon • June 3, 2016

small-business freelancing

Whether you are looking to starting a business or already have, you might have already given thought to the pros and cons of owning a business. Personally, it took me many years to fully realize the ups and downs of being self-employed. So much, that I actually ran back to full-time employment for just over a year, before throwing my hands up and running back to the freelance arena.

Here's what I have learned during my seven years working a web developer.

The Downsides of Owning a Small Business

Many would-be freelancers tend to think of the benefits of being self-employed, not stopping to consider just how hard it can be to keep your head above water - and not just financially.

You are responsible for the daily optimism and motivation

If you've ever cringed and gritted your teeth as your boss seeps motivational talks about the company, the team or upcoming projects; realize that you will need to become that person. If you can't look forward positively to everything you do, you will not perform at your best. When the clock hits 12 pm on a Wednesday morning, and you've not done a thing due to lack of motivation, you are heading down the path to failure.

I believe the work-life balance is in fact hardest as a freelancer - you end up neglecting everything and sinking into business, or attending to everything but your work. The lines get especially blurred when you want to impress a client or have a tight deadline, and there is no overtime paid or bonus at the end.

You need skills far beyond your expertise

I am a web developer and designer by heart, not an accountant, yet I have had to learn all about the ins and outs of business finance. As a small business owner, you need to keep track of the finances of the business and learn all about the rules and regulations surrounding them. If you can't yet afford an accountant, you will need to learn a lot of financial jargon in little time.

You will also be tasked with managing people, be it staff, outsourcees or clients themselves. You need to be a people-orientated person, which is especially hard for me as I am naturally an introvert. A date with my fiancé involves slap chips in the park on a quiet afternoon. You need to learn how to be assertive, persuasive and always manage to keep your cool.

The Upsides of Owning a Small Business

You get to pursue your passion

This alone can trump all of the cons of being a freelancer or owning a business. You will have the freedom to pursue exactly what you want, in the manner in which you wish to pursue it. If you are a writer, you can choose to write for a particular niche, be it romance fiction or personal finance articles.

I am a web developer and have chosen to build and monetize my own software and niche websites. Another web developer may put all of his or her efforts into building software for other companies or clients. It's a matter of personal preference.

Time Flexibility

While I did mention that the work-life balance is a tough factor, you do still have near absolute time flexibility. You can arrange your meetings and work time around the rest of the things life has to offer. This is especially great if you have children that need to be transported, fed, cared for and cheered for at sporting events.

In the end...

It's all about you. You will define your business's image, action plan, and ultimate success or failure. If you are ready to keep your head up through both easy and rough times, you will make it work.