About the VBOC
The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard and Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has 22 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as VBOCs.
Are you tired of your annoying boss and ready to be your own boss? If so, you should start your own business! If taking a vacation whenever you want sounds like a good idea, you should start a business! Would you like to go to work and love what you do every day? Then, you should start your own business! It’s that easy, right? NO, it’s not. Before you decide that business ownership is right for you, take a deep look into the advantages and disadvantages of business ownership.
You must be ready to commit a lot of time and energy to getting the job done if you want your business to survive. You must wear at least 100 hats daily while you run the world’s longest marathon. Let’s have a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of starting your own business. I am not going to sugarcoat this for you; I want you to get a true picture of what owning a business includes. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of business ownership so you can start to feel if it’s the right career path for you!
Wendy Klug, Program Manager
I want to let you know that I am not just sitting here talking about information that I have learned from reading textbooks. I, myself, have always been an entrepreneur. Ever since I was a little girl, I have had an entrepreneurial spirit. I was always one to do special projects or create something to turn an extra buck!
By age 15, I already owned and operated a craft business as a side gig. This love for selling my art turned into much more after graduating from college with a degree in photography. I soon opened my own small photography business. I successfully ran my own photography business for over 15 years. Today, I no longer have a photography business. It isn’t because I didn’t have clients or I no longer like taking photos, but because I was ready to have my family time back on weekends. You could say the disadvantages were outweighing the advantages.
There are many reasons people start their own businesses. Some of these may be personal, but entrepreneurs seem to have a few ideas and characteristics in common. Here are some of those commonalities comparing advantages to disadvantages.
1. The Sound of Freedom: As a small business owner, you are in control! How much effort you put into the business is what you are going to get back. You get to make your own decisions on what you want to pay yourself, what hours you want to work and what work you want to complete. You get to be your own boss. This is the sound of freedom to many people!
2. Make the World a Better Place: One of the reasons one may start a business is because they can’t find the service or product they need. An entrepreneur will see this gap in the marketplace as an opportunity and will capitalize on it by creating a business to solve the problem they have identified. The long hours that go into running a business are easier to bear when at the end of it all, you realize you have been the catalyst for something new and made a difference in someone’s life. It can be very rewarding.
3. Healthy Work-Life Balance: When you are the boss, you get to take a vacation whenever you want. If you want a long weekend, you can deem yourself time off. But you must remember that this isn’t going to happen right away when starting a business. Most businesses need to operate during normal business hours which are typically 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. With that being said, as long as you are transparent with your customers, they will understand and respect the hours your business chooses to operate under, giving you the freedom you want. Once you are more established and the business is up and running smoothly, you will see the work-life balance even out.
4. Do What You Love: For some people, it’s a way of life to do what they love. Do you have a passion or skill that you want to turn into a small business? Owning a small business will give you the ability to be successful and follow your dream. Maybe you’re the type of person that isn’t satisfied working for someone else and you would prefer to be your own boss. If you feel this way then you need to follow that dream of doing what you love, instead of feeling like you are just working to make a living. It will give you a certain satisfaction that no one else could ever put a dollar amount on.
5. A Lifestyle that Fits Your Style: Working the classic 8-5 job may not be your style of work and you may feel unhappy doing so. By owning a small business, you can do what you love and feel like you are making an impact on something you care deeply about. You are also able to adapt your business around the lifestyle you want to have. This is a great positive for many new small business owners as they see a big opportunity in remote work and the ability to travel while still getting their work done.
6. Reaping the Financial Benefits: When you are a small business owner, the generated revenue goes into your business bank account. You benefit from your own hard work. The more you put into your business, the more financial return you will see from your work. You are turning your skills, interests and passion into your own income instead of somebody else’s income.
1. Time Commitment: As a new small business owner, you are going to have to put in a lot of time. There is going to be a lot on your plate with very little time in a day. You will wish there were 50 hours in a day so you could get more done. It takes a lot of time, patience and perseverance to start and run a successful small business. As a small business owner, you will likely work more than 40 hours a week. You have the freedom to take time off, but in reality, you may not be able to get away at the beginning of this journey. That trip to Hawaii just might have to wait!
2. Into the Unknown: You can complete as much research as you want before you start your business, but you still will not know if your business is going to survive. There are some variables you can control, and other variables you cannot. When someone opens their doors, there is no guarantee that they will survive. It takes a lot of work to get a business started, but it also takes just as much work to continue growing that business. Markets change and so do people’s interests. As a small business owner, don’t find yourself in a world where you just continue to do what you started off doing. You need to constantly research what customers are looking for, who your competitors are and what is trending online. If you don’t keep hustling after you open your doors, your business will be at risk.
3. Investing Your Money:
Everyone is looking for this thing called free money. In all honesty, grants are few, far and in between for business startups. While there are options available, you will still need to rely on having your own skin in the game to get started. You will need to have a well-written business plan, good credit history and working capital to secure a small business loan. (Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to securing financing, but we do have a team of SBA experts that can assist you along this journey.)
4. Stress: As a business owner, you are the business. You personally feel responsible for the company’s success or failure. Aside from that, there’s an overwhelming array of other things to worry about too including competition, employees, bills, equipment breakdowns, customer problems, etc. Keep in mind that just because you are the boss, it doesn’t mean the decisions will always be easy!
With every advantage, there will always be a disadvantage. When I first opened my photography business, I loved everything about it! The fact that I was away from my family on every nice summer day didn’t even phase me. You could say I was in my zone! I loved getting to capture moments of life for my clients so they could remember those special events for years down the road.
As I continued my photography business for 15 years, a lot changed. The service gap in hiring a professional photographer to capture photos, people no longer wanting to develop photos to put on their walls and even the competition for photographers were just some of the reasons my business slowed down. The need for professional photographers changed immensely throughout my career. Not only that, but I was unhappy missing my own family events to take photos. I no longer had the drive to continue my journey, therefore, I closed my business.
When looking to start a business, there are many things to consider. While weighing the advantages against the disadvantages, you will find that this is just the beginning. Starting a business is a lot of work and requires a team to get the job done. Do know that there are resources, a team of cheerleaders and a community there ready to support your future venture.
Today, I am grateful to spend my time teaching others how to start, grow or sell their business. I am honored to train and advise veterans, military spouses and active military members throughout the Dakotas. I have been able to use my experiences as an entrepreneur to help others achieve their goals. My cup is full! I am very happy working for the Veterans Business Outreach Center of the Dakotas. I get to serve those that have served our country.
Are you tired of that boss and ready to start your own business? Let’s get you started by weighing the advantages versus the disadvantages. Let us help you do some market research to see if your business idea is a needed service or product. If you are ready to get started, contact the VBOC of the Dakotas team at [email protected]. We offer no-cost client advising. Register for advising at: