With a strong American economy, it’s a good time to be starting a business, says Steven Bulger, regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). “It’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in America,” he says. “Being a small business owner is one of the most satisfying career choices someone can make. It has risks, but it comes with numerous potential rewards, both personal and financial.”
Owning your own business is the American dream, but here’s what Bulger says it really means to get up every day and be both the boss and the employee.
1. Do What You Love
This is the No. 1 reason why people start their own businesses, and it makes sense: When people have a passion for a product or service, it gives them the drive to work hard at being successful. While it’s hard to put a value on, being paid for doing what you enjoy can lead to greater job satisfaction.
Tip: In addition to passion, of course, you need to have knowledge of whatever you’re selling, whether it’s a service or a product. If you need a specific kind of knowledge or skill, consider taking classes or finding a mentor.
2. Set Your Own Schedule
With your own business, you decide how many hours you’d like to work—and what those hours will be. Of course, that depends on what kind of business you’re in. Most small outfits need to operate during regular business hours in order to interact with other businesses. Some, however, may not—especially those that are online, which may allow for greater flexibility of workdays and hours.
Tip: Know what your clients’ normal hours are, as well as their expectations of being able to reach you, and always stay flexible.
3. Feel Pride
It’s gratifying to have an idea for something, then strike out on your own to make that vision a reality. Those long hours could be easier to bear when, at the end of it all, you realize that you’ve been the catalyst for something new.
Tip: Take time to celebrate small accomplishments along the way. Every step you take in building your business is worthy of recognition.
4. You’re The Boss
As the owner, you set the rules and answer to yourself. Of course, the fate of the business also falls on your shoulders; if it’s just you, you may make all of the decisions that have to do with the day-to-day operations and the larger issues as well. But no matter what your business happens to be, you’re still accountable to your clients; and if you have employees, you’re accountable to them, too.
Tip: Keep in mind that even when you work for yourself, you still have people you need to keep happy. It pays to nurture all of your work relationships so they’ll continue to grow—and keep you in business.
5. Build Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is a key aspect of small business ownership, along with a commitment to the business and a faith that you’ll see it through. Don’t let a fear of failure overcome your belief that you can make your business succeed. If you’re afraid, use it as motivation to drive you. Every small business is going to face challenging times, and you have to have the confidence that you will overcome them.
Tip: A mentor is a great resource when problems arise and you’re unsure what steps to take. The SBA’s resource partner SCORE is a free mentoring service available to all entrepreneurs.
6. Opportunity To Create
Providing something unique is a big reason people start a new business. Of course, it doesn’t have to be truly one-of-a-kind—but if it is, be aware that anything successful doesn’t stay one-of-a-kind for very long. Success breeds followers, which is something to always be on the lookout for.
Tip: No matter what kind of business you’re in, a successful small business owner will continue to change with the times. Try to stay one step ahead of your competition by looking for innovative new solutions and products. (And for your own truly innovative ideas, help protect them with patents or copyrights.)
7. You Can Take Time Off
It sounds great to be able take a long weekend whenever the mood strikes—and it is! Just know that starting a small business means long hours and likely little time off, at least until you get things humming along.
Tip: Especially if you work out of your home, the boundaries between work life and personal life can become blurry. Carve out time to recharge, even if it’s just an afternoon away from the computer.
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Read more: 6 Smart Tips For Starting A Small Business
By Ellise Pierce