This article was first published on 6 August 2020 and has been updated.
Many entrepreneurs will tell you, building a thriving, sustainable business is tough. And before you jump in, you need to give yourself a gut check and ask why you really want to become an entrepreneur.
Are you in it to earn lots of money to give your family a better life? Do you enjoy the flexibility of working on your own terms? Perhaps you can’t see yourself working for your boss or in your current job. Or maybe you want to change the world in a positive way.
If those were your main (or only) reason for becoming an entrepreneur, then turn back now. Here’s why these seemingly reasonable-sounding reasons are bad motivations for starting your own business.
#1 Flexibility And Lifestyle
Many (wrongly) equate flexibility in work hours with working less, or being able to work whenever you like.
While it is true that running your own business would free you from the traditional rules of an office, such as needing to be in your seat for a certain number of hours each day, you would still find many ‘hard’ deadlines that you can’t blow off, even as the boss.
As an entrepreneur, delivering services and products as promised to your customers is non-negotiable. Showing up to meetings with your clients (and observing decorum) is a must. Missing deadlines for government paperwork or making payments have financial and legal consequences.
So, even though you can choose how, where and even when to work, you might not be able to control how much you’ll be working. Ultimately, how much you work, especially in the early days, will determine how much you earn and the growth trajectory of the company.
#2 Make Lots And Lots Of Money
If money is what you’re after, there are probably lots of better ways to earn a stable living and climb the corporate ladder. When becoming an entrepreneur, you would be taking on risk of unstable – or non-existent – income, as well as incurring the opportunity cost of what you could have been making if you stayed in the workforce as a salaried employee.
Our perception of entrepreneurship might be skewed by survivorship bias – where we only read about the successful startups who are making tonnes of money, or even ‘failures’ who end up becoming successful. But behind every one of these, are many entrepreneurs whose businesses never quite took off, not for the lack of trying or talent.
#3 You Don’t Like Your Boss, Co-Workers, Or Job
We probably have those days when we felt like throwing our resignation letter and walking out of our salaried job, perhaps due to an unreasonable boss or intolerable co-workers.
You might think that being your own boss means not having to deal with people you don’t like. Unfortunately, unless your business does not involve hiring staff, does not have real customers, or does not require working with vendors or partners, you would still have to interact with and perhaps work closely with individuals, some of whom you might find annoying.
And if you’re leaving your job so you don’t have to do irritating tasks given to you, then you might have lots more of them to do as a boss. There is paperwork, teething issues with operations, negotiations and interviews, and a whole set of ‘chores’ that you might not realise are an unavoidable part of running a business.
#4 Change The World Or Help People
Whether you heard a TED talk, read a Medium article, or spoke to a startup founder at a conference – you might think that to change the world for the better or to have a positive social impact, running a startup is the best way to do so.
You should know that a budding company is still small, and in its infancy, the reach and impact might still be limited. Contrast this with being in an established organisation or company, where you have resources, networks, and the brand-position to amplify good causes and show a positive example as a good corporate citizen.
The point is, you don’t necessarily need to leave the corporate world to do good, and to think this way might even be counter-productive to the positive contributions you wish to make.
What’s Your Why?
If you’re not discouraged after this article, then great! It’s a welcome sign that you have deeper, more profound reasons for wanting to be an entrepreneur, and have clearly given the matter considerable thought.
Before embarking on any endeavour, codifying the reasons and motivations for doing so is important, so that you can move forward with confidence, and know that you can withstand difficult days, weeks and months.
Even with the right reasons to start your business, new entrepreneurs can (and will) struggle with many decisions throughout your business building journey. Fortunately, you can leverage on OCBC’s business resource hub meant to help budding entrepreneurs start, run and grow their business, as well as providing valuable content to new and more established business owners scaling up their business.
This one-stop business resource hub provides practical and industry-specific content and points to the appropriate digital tools at diverse points in your entrepreneurship journey, such as contemplating registering a new business, establishing your online strategy, invoicing customers, getting your books in order, and expanding across the value chain and financing that business.
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