Lately, every single person under the age of 40 is starting a business. Now I’ve written over and over again about the many reasons not to work for someone else, not to work a 9-5, not to work “for the man” but I feel that it’s my responsibility, right here and right now, to tell you all of the reasons that you should absolutely, under no circumstances, even think about starting your own business.
I Want To Be The Boss
Ok. But why? Why do you want to be the boss? The boss is hard. The boss has a lot of responsibility. The boss needs to make sure that everyone gets paid. And that includes making sure they get paid too. Do you know how much that sucks? It’s bad enough to have to worry about your own well being but have you ever in your entire life been responsible for someone else’s mortgage? For their kid’s clothes? For their healthcare? Yeah. It’s not fun.
Being a mediocre worker does not automatically translate to being a great boss. Why would it? Do no start a business because you’re a terrible worker. That’s a terrible reason to start a business.
I Want My Schedule To Be Flexible
This one always gets a chuckle out of me. “I don’t want to work weekends.” “I want my holidays to myself.” Cool. Cool. And at some point you might get there. But just because your hours of operation give you some time off, don’t think that you’re going to be working any less. People who think, especially when you get started, that owning your own business means you’re going to have an easier schedule get a quick lesson in reality.
So, you show up for work…you work 40 hours in a week and you’re done. But that’s because you’re doing ONE job. One. Imagine if you’re now responsible for scheduling, accounting, HR, marketing, and every other position that makes a business happen?
Sure, at some point you might get to the point that Jamie Gerrard refers to as “making money while you sleep” but that doesn’t come on day one. It doesn’t come in week one. If you’re really lucky it comes during year one. But don’t quit your day job because you don’t want to work evening and weekends.
I Want To Make The Big Bucks
When a company does well, obviously those people at the top get the lion’s share. CEO’s of some of the world’s biggest companies often account for a significant portion of that company’s entire salary. Being the boss is great, right? Right. But you’re not stepping into a role as CEO of Google or Apple. You’re STARTING a business and if you want that business to be financially viable, you’re going to need to avoid being an expenditure for as long as possible.
Most of the small business owners that I know don’t even take a salary. They take out what they need. They cover their expenses. They’re not buying boats and cars and fancy new toys. They’re transferring money into their personal account to buy groceries.
You MIGHT make a lot of money with your own business. But much like your schedule, it’s not going to happen on day one, or week one, or year one. You need to be in it for the long haul. You don’t have to have a backup plan. You need to have a “right now” plan.
I Want To Make A Cool Place To Work
Shut up. Company culture cannot be your end game. How you work is absolutely a great way to encourage people to work with you, but you can have as many espresso machines and foosball tables and record players you want and it won’t mean a damned thing when you don’t have recurring revenue.
I have in my head an idea of what my dream office looks like. I know what my desk looks like. And I’ll be honest. I’ve even got a couch picked out. But I didn’t start a business so that I could have a cool couch. I didn’t start a business because I wanted to make casual Fridays EVERY DAY. And if you’re starting a business because you think it’d be a cool place to hang out, do yourself and everyone you will ever hire an favor…and don’t.
I Think It’s A Cool Idea
Now in this case, I don’t mean that you think starting a business is a cool idea. I mean that you think your business idea is cool. People who start businesses on a whim don’t have a tendency to make it very far. You MIGHT stumble upon an idea. You MIGHT get inspired. But once that happens, you need to do some research.
Several times I’ve had people come to me and say, “I’m starting a business and I have this great idea” and then when they describe how it will work, I have to give them some very bad news; that’s not a business. I’ve had people work out the details with me on their idea until they realize that they’ll make about $2 per hour. That’s a sad moment.
I don’t like telling people that they have a bad idea. I don’t like telling people that their idea won’t work. And I know that when you decide to start a business, people you’ve barely even met will come out of the woodwork to tell you what a bad idea that is. And I always tell people not to listen to those people. But you have to listen to SOMEBODY. You have to listen to reason.
Does ANYONE else think you have a good idea? Because at some point you’re going to need customers. And if you can’t find any, you have a problem.
We’re Going To Be Like THAT COMPANY, But Even Better
Don’t try to compete with a company that’s already out there that’s doing well. It’s one thing to recognize that the brands serving a need aren’t doing it well but it’s another thing to think, “I can be better than Apple.” Here’s the thing; you PROBABLY can’t. Let’s talk about Box.
A few years ago, a company launched called Box. They were a direct competitor to Dropbox. Their claim to fame was that their free plan gave you 50gb instead of Dropbox’s 5gb. And a LOT of people signed up. A lot. At the time, Dropbox’s larger plans were priced a little high and so people saw this as a great way to find a middle ground. But Box was trying to take on an industry leader. They weren’t trying to fill a niche need. They were coming out and saying, “we’re going to BEAT Dropbox at what they do.” Now, I have a question for you. Have you ever heard of Box? Even better, do you have a Box account? Even better, do you have a PAID Box account? The answer is…no.
What did this do? Simple. It made Dropbox a LOT of money. Dropbox simply said, ok fine, we’ll drop our price and raise our storage limits. Suddenly EVERYONE had a paid Dropbox account. The lesson? This isn’t Mike Tyson’s Punchout. You can’t take on the boss.
So…Don’t Start a Business?
No. ABSOLUTELY start a business. But take these rules to heart. Start a business because it’s what you WANT to do, not because you DON’T want to do something else. Start a business because you want to work something great, not because you don’t want to work. Start a business because you think work is cool, not because you want a cool office.
I will probably never work for someone ever again. Not because I didn’t enjoy working for “the man”, not because I didn’t like work hours, not because I had a super quick idea for an app but rather because I’ve spent my whole life believing that I wanted to build something extraordinary. THAT’S why you start a business.