Starting a Business: The Romance vs. the Reality

Author: Alexandra Levit

Source: The New York Times, November 29, 2011

Being the owner isn’t all that it might seem.  The buck stops with you and EVERYONE thinks that just because you’re the owner, you make all this money, make all the decisions and get to take as many vacations as you want.  The reality is you get to be a business owner–and I say to many budding entrepreneurs–if you want to be a business owner you better to be able to make your own Excel spreadsheets and plunge a toilet –and inevitably, you’ll be making the spreadsheets in your jeans and plunging in suit and tie…

Some people who toil discontentedly in corporate cubicles regard entrepreneurship as the cure for all workplace ills. Only when they’ve experienced running a business personally do they find that the reality is much different.

Mike Cleary, for example, left his job as a sales and marketing executive to become an entrepreneur because he was tired of office politics. But after buying a franchise and an existing business about eight years ago, Mr. Cleary sparred with difficult vendors and suppliers. “It seemed very one-sided, with many commitments and obligations on my part, and much less required of the people I was buying from,” he says.

In an effort to establish trust, he says, he extended credit to a client of the previous owner. Unfortunately, he says, the client was not forthcoming with payment, costing him tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Finding loyal employees was no picnic, either.

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Being the owner isn’t all that it might seem.  The buck stops with you and EVERYONE thinks that just because you’re the owner, you make all this money, make all the decisions and get to take as many vacations as you want.  The reality is you get to be a business owner–and I say to many budding entrepreneurs–if you want to be a business owner you better to be able to make your own Excel spreadsheets and plunge a toilet –and inevitably, you’ll be making the spreadsheets in your jeans and plunging in suit and tie…

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