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05 February 2013

Small Business Reality

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The other day a healthcare provider asked me a couple questions that kind of irritated me.

  1. How many hours do you spend each day on your business?
  2. Couldn’t you hire someone to do some of that work so you’re not so busy?

I was irritated by his questions, because he did not understand the constraints (e.g., money) nor the inherent rewards (e.g., personal satisfaction that comes with creating a vision) of being a small business owner, and by extension I felt he was denigrating me for working so hard.

360 Perspective

I have approached employment from multiple angles – salaried employee, hourly employee, contract employee, sole proprietor, and limited liability company member manager. As with most choices in life, each employment category has its pros and cons.

Easy vs. Hard

By filling the chair under several categories (e.g., employee, independent contractor, business owner), I have gained a perspective regarding what works best for me and also what category is easiest for anyone to fill.

  1. Easiest – Being a salaried employee is by far the easiest employment category. No risk involved here. Your responsibilities are narrowed to your area of expertise, your paycheck arrives at regular intervals whether the company is making money or losing money, and somebody else is responsible for all the periphery necessities to enable you do your job (e.g., desk/chair, computer, software applications, telephony, paperclips, toilet paper, etc.)
  2. Hardest – Being a small business owner (e.g., sole proprietor, limited liability company member manager, corporate officer in company with fewer than 50 employees) is by far the hardest employment category. Whether you have employees or you are the sole “employee”, you are responsible for the completion of every task in running the business. Even if you delegate cleaning the bathrooms, buying office supplies, or making sales calls to someone else, you’re still on the hook for task completion. If your delegate neglects their assigned task, it will fall on your shoulders to mitigate—from taking corrective action against an employee to completing the task yourself.

To paraphrase Goldilocks, “…and this one is JUST right!”

Although not the easiest, I’ve found that being a small business owner is by far my favorite and the category for which I am best suited. That’s not to say I wasn’t an exemplary employee, because I was. However, I enjoy the inherent freedoms that come with the risk of being a small business owner.

What cog represents you in the employment puzzle?

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