When Not To Start Your Own Business

Apr 21, 2017


Entrepreneurship has become a niche in itself. There’s a certain glamour in being your own boss. One entrepreneur, Donald Trump, is now president of the US. Others feature regularly on newspaper and TV. Being in business is now ‘sexy’ (shudder).

So, yah, you should definitely quit your job and build your own social media platform or leverage that idea you had for an app, mmmkay?

Wrong!

Here are 8 reasons not to start your own business.

1. You already have a well-paid job, which you like, which pays your bills, lets you save and has prospects of promotion and good benefits.

Congratulations. You have what 99% of people on the planet currently don’t. You want to swop that for a shot in the dark?

Globalisation of labour,  recessions, mass third-level education and automation have combined to destroy career prospects for many people, even Westerners. Mortgages have increased to 7 times the yearly wage. You will work until you drop and the state may still take your home to pay your hospice fees.

In this scenario you need to think twice before ‘following your dream’ and chucking it all in to open a B&B in Provence.

2. You don’t have enough money to last you a year of no income.

Surprise! Not all businesses make money from the get-go. In fact, most don’t. There are startup costs. These have to be paid while you have no income from the new business. You can run through your savings quite fast.

Most new businesses fail. The guys you see in the glossy magazines who are ‘risk takers’ are doing it with someone else’s money; their Daddy’s, or their investors.

And that’s a hint: take risks with other people’s money, not your own.

3. You want to enter a saturated niche.

Selling electronics online, app development, opening a restaurant and courier services are examples of ideas that Joe Public often comes up with when he thinks of striking out in business for himself. Trouble is, they are highly-competitive, with low margins, and a high failure-rate.

Make sure that a. There’s a gap in the market you can exploit which will b. Make you a nice fat profit.

4. You have no experience of the niche you’re interested in.

The classic route to unceasing hard work and throwing-your-savings-away is the British man who 1. Moves to a sunny foreign country to 2. Open an hotel.

Britain is a damp and cloudy country. Six months of the year the weather will not make you feel good, of itself. If you have troubles, they will seem amplified, because of the weather .

So what does the British man do? He goes on ‘oliday! To where? Somewhere sunny! And guess what, he likes it there. For the two weeks maximum, once a year, in high tourist season, that he spends there. Enjoying himself! Not working!

The thought occurs: “I’d like to live ‘ere.”
From which follows: “I’d need to have an income.”
And then: “I know, I’ll open a bar/cafe/B&B/hotel!”

Except he knows nothing about running one. And also, the British tend not to do service very well, because of the class system, the remains of the empire, their civil wars, etc. etc. Fawlty Towers was based on a real hotel.

Cue misery.

Good business ideas often come to someone who has an intimate knowledge of a niche and thus a very shrewd idea of how to perform better in it and beat up the competition.

Jumping feet-first into a niche you don’t know and ‘betting the farm’ will indeed make money. For your lawyer and accountant.

5. You want a family/social life.

The CEOs of major companies are always ‘on’. From the time they get up until their head touches the pillow they are making decisions morning, noon and night. That’s what comes from being The Boss.

You’re dealing with staff, suppliers, directors, competitors, shareholders and they all want something from you. Want to knock-off at 5pm and go see your second-eldest in the school play? Too bad. You have a major client in Japan who wants the problem fixed by 4am GMT or he’s taking his expensive contract elsewhere.

6. You can’t play the tough guy.

Successful leaders have a touch of the sociopath. They can make painful decisions because they don’t feel emotional pain the way you or I do. So they can dump people, or trash projects, and go home and have a good 6 hours sleep, and then come in in the morning and do the same again.

7. You don’t handle stress well.

Does having people being angry with you bother you? Would getting a solicitor’s letter in the post cause you to have sleepless nights? If so, having your own business may not be for you.

You may not have heard, but this is the era of  ‘millenials’ and ‘snowflakes’. Their parents and grandparents were punks and hippies so this lot really have no tolerance for being thwarted, even in speech. They are spoilt, and sometimes, stupid.

So you need a thick skin to sell to them and to see them off if they cause trouble. But that’s always been the way, in business.

It’s a competition, and if your competitors aren’t after you, the government probably is!

8. You want to ‘follow your passion’ and that’s your sole criterion.

‘Following your passion’ is an emotive slogan. It’s a form of marketing cooked up in the early 21st century to excite you long enough to get money out of you.  Being passionate = moral rectitude, in this twisted era.

Passion will give you energy but serial failure will sap it. Many people are ‘passionate’ about clothes, food, music, toys and tea-towels. Very few are making a good living.

The best biz to get involved in is one of those common, essential, overlooked niches where services are sold at a tasty fee to clients who don’t find them ‘sexy’ at all but one dry December day, do find that they need them. Examples would be tree-felling, pest control, sewer pumping, security  and so on.

Solid yeomen of England have put their kids through college running a panel-beating business while middle-class teachers fret over the next mortgage payment.