Last week was my birthday. It was also half-term and in previous years it was often the time I would take the first of my five annual weeks’ leave of the year.
Being self-employed doesn’t work like that. I no longer automatically get five week’s annual leave. It doesn’t matter if it’s my birthday or half term or I have a bit of a sniffle, if I have work that needs doing or a client requires my presence, I have to think very long and hard before deciding to take time off. After all, the mortgage and household bills won’t pay themselves.
Last week, one of my clients had a tight deadline for entering some prestigious industry awards and requested my help with filming some video to be submitted as part of their entries.
So, I spent much of my birthday interviewing the chief executive, staff and the chairman of the trustees on stage at the local theatre. On the short walk back to the office afterwards it poured down with rain and I got soaked through.
It’s not how I would have chosen to spend my birthday – although the loveliness of the people, the beautiful rendition of Happy Birthday which gave mention to squashed tomatoes and stew, and the rather nice bottle of fizz they gave me at the end of the day went a long way to making up for it.
As did the rather delicious and fun meal at the local Nepalese restaurant with family later that evening.
Reasons to be cheerful
But what really made me grateful for the opportunity of starting a business and being my own boss was the next morning, when I chose to treat myself by not setting an alarm.
It might not sound like much, but it meant that it was actually 9.35am before I rocked up at my desk, already on the other side of my second cup of coffee.
A whole 35 minutes “late for work”.
Again, not really a big deal but I can imagine many bosses would raise at least an eyebrow, if not merry hell, if you sidled into the office at gone 9.30am and offered the excuse that you were late because you had deliberately decided not to set an alarm because you fancied treating yourself to a little lie-in.
Ditching the 9-5 to start your own business means much more than being able to ditch the alarm clock every once in a while though.
If you are seriously considering taking the plunge there are probably dozens of concerns whirring around inside your brain which are enough to rob you of a good night’s sleep.
While some of them may well be very valid concerns, the chances are some of them at least are unfounded and there is no reason at all why you can’t reach your dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
So, to tip the balance back in favour of just going for it and not letting those fears hold you back, here are my top ten reasons for starting your own business.
Good reasons for starting a business
#1 You are your own boss
This is the real crux of it – no one else can tell you what to do, you are totally and utterly in charge.
You have the freedom to do it all your own way.
Of course, on the flip side it means the buck stops with you, you will have to make all the hard decisions.
It can be a lonely and scary place to be when your business lives or dies by your decisions, but ultimately it means you are in charge of your own destiny.
#2 You set the pace
When you work for someone else, the chances are they set the deadlines and tell you when you have to work and when tasks have to be completed by.
When you are your own boss, you get to see the agenda and can be far more flexible about what time you put in at the office.
Of course, you will still need discipline to make sure the essential work is done and depending on what you do, clients may dictate deadlines, but starting your own business can be a great way of doing more of what you want to do when you want to do it, such as spending more time with family.
#3 You get to do something you enjoy
No one is saying that running your own business is going to be fun, fun, fun all the way.
There will be times when it’s a long, hard slog, make no mistake. But if you are setting up your own business you have the chance to make a living doing something you love.
Of course, before you dive in and try to make a business out of your passion you need to ensure there is a market for it.
It doesn’t matter how passionate you are about crochet shorts, if no one wants to buy them you don’t have a business!
#4 You can express yourself
When it’s your business you can pour every ounce of your passion and creativity into it to build a brand that your customers can relate to and hopefully fall in love with.
Unless you are very lucky, you will probably have to operate within some financial constraints, but that’s just another opportunity to put your creativity to work to make the most of what you have.
#5 It’s not hard to do
In recent years it has become a whole lot easier to set up a business, with support available from many groups and organisations, including the Government.
Financial help may still be quite tricky to come by but advice and other practical support is only ever a click or phone call away.
If you don’t know where to start when setting up your business, there are almost unlimited online resources but you can also call on The Prince’s Trust, your local Chamber of Commerce, or even your local council.
#6 It can be profitable
Have a browse around the internet and you will likely to find a multitude of stories of stay-at-home mums who are well on their way to their first million after setting up their own business in the spare half an hour they had each day while little one snoozed.
It’s possible, I guess, but it’s much more likely that you will need to work hard and possibly long hours to build a successful business.
But if you are willing to put in the work the potential is definitely there to make a tidy living – and maybe more.
#7 It is never dull
As the founder of a new business the chances are that every little task will fall to you, particularly in the early days until you grow big enough to hire a team to help you.
Some of those tasks in themselves may not set your world alight, but the variety means there is not going to be enough time to be bored.
They say variety is the spice of life – if that’s true an entrepreneur’s day-to-day is one very fiery vindaloo!
#8 You can have a second career
If you are willing to put in the hours, setting up your own business can give you the chance to test drive your dream while still bringing in a steady salary from your current day job.
If suitable, you could make it a permanent arrangement, which can be very profitable, or you may find your new side hustle is so successful that the income from it more than covers what you receive from the 9-5.
It also gives you a safety net to test the market – and even whether you are actually cut out to run your own business.
#9 Cut the commute
It all comes down to you calling the shots again. My daily commute when I was employed was about quarter of an hour each way, which perhaps strecthed to 25 minutes if the traffic was “bad”.
If your day job involves a four-hour round journey to get to the office, setting up your own business may be the ideal opportunity to “set up shop” much closer to home – if not actually at home.
However, you will still do well to remember, particularly in retail, location is everything!
#10 The dream can become a reality
Your plans may only stretch as far as setting up a small business that brings in enough money to support your family or indulges your passion, but on the other hand you may have a MASSIVE dream that you want to realise.
When you start your own business your destiny is in your own hands and the sky really is the limit.
Even today’s biggest entrepreneurs – think Richard Branson and Anita Roddick – had to start somewhere!
Join Impetus4 for help starting your own business
A version of this article previously appeared on my website Impetus4.com – a resource hub for women in business.
Visit Impetus4 for more useful advice and information on how you can join a new Impetus4 mastermind and mentoring group coming soon to Spalding.