Top 10 Reasons NOT to go in business for yourself

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Although I spend most of my time evangelizing about the benefits of entrepreneurship, I do want to throw a little reality out there for those who may look at it only through rose-colored glasses.  Here are ten reasons why you may NOT want to start your own business:

10b_1  #10:  You can’t blame your lame boss for your problems.  As much as you might have complained about your boss or "Management" in your corporate job, you might find yourself missing the person who takes the heat for big decisions.  Whichever success or failure your company experiences is squarely on your shoulders.

9 #9:  YOU are all the departments in your business.  You must take care of product development, sales, marketing, accounting, customer service, IT, legal, procurement and shipping.  Most of us do not have strengths in all these areas, so you must quickly learn what is necessary to stay within the law and in business.

8 #8:  No free office supplies.  Did you really ever think about how much a paper clip or manila folder costs?  How about a desk, no-glare monitor or printer toner?  All of a sudden you will become aware of all the "hidden" expenses when you have to do it all yourself.  And no, I don’t suggest sneaking out the back door of your corporate job with a big box of supplies.  Bad karma! (I will sheepishly admit to taking a pad or two of post-it notes in my time, and I am sure I paid for it somehow)

7 #7:  No safety net of a regular paycheck.  Even if you do well in your business, most orders do not come in an orderly, timely manner as your paycheck does.  Paying bills can be much more of a juggling act when you first start your business, unless you are sitting on a huge cash reserve for expenses.

6 #6:  No one gives you goals and objectives.  Many new business owners can get paralyzed trying to figure out what to get done in which order.  Should you develop your product?  Start talking to prospects?  Invest in infrastructure?  Build a website? 

5 #5:  You can’t pass off irate customers to Customer Service.  The buck stops with you, and you have to deal with all conflict related to your business.

4 #4:  No paid sick days.  For many businesses, if you don’t work, money doesn’t come in.  If you wake up with a stuffy nose and a headache, you can’t tap into one of your 20 days of paid sick leave and sleep in.

3 #3:  Self employment tax.  Or just taxes in general.  Instead of delighting at a refund most tax years, as a self-employed person you have to pay self-employment tax.  You also must keep excellent accounting records to make sure you run a clean operation and in case that you are audited by the IRS.

2 #2:  Self-funded benefits.  You must piece together and pay for a decent benefit package to ensure you and your family are protected against risk.  You don’t have the volume discount afforded by large corporate programs, so often they are more expensive.

1 #1:  No zone-out weeks.  Although most of us would never admit it, we have all had weeks (some months!) of "zoning out" where we act like we are busy and doing important things, but in reality are shopping online, or planning a wedding or playing fantasy sports.  If you zone out in your own business, nothing gets done and no money comes in.  Simple as that.

21 Responses to “Top 10 Reasons NOT to go in business for yourself”

  1. […] areĀ 10 reasons not to go into business for yourself, which is an interesting list. It’s from someone who evangelizes the benefits, joys, and […]

  2. The paradox in this list: Some of these items are perceived as “disavantages” only if one has been brainwashed to accept employment as a default or norm.

    Take having to “self-fund” benefits. Benefits (or, more fundamentally, health care)is one of many necessities. I have to find a way to get myself food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and health care, (and maybe a couple of other essentials I’ve left off.)

    One way to go at the challenge is to just go for getting those things but the most expedient means — “getting money” to buy the things, bartering, providing them for myself. “Enter into a relationship with an institution that supplies health insurance” is an extraordinarily convulted approach when you think about it!

    In reality, we have been hoodwinked: Why not think of the premium in time we pay for letting employers take care of the insurance thing as the “disadvantage”, and providing it for ourselves as the default?

  3. Latarsha says:

    Great post.

    You hit the nail on it’s head when you spoke about that fact that WE assume the roles of every department for our business.

    This means that either you’ve got to become savvy in those areas that aren’t second nature to you.

    Or…you’ve got to find a way to find a way to bring that strength into your busines: either by forming a collaborative relationship with others who possess the strength, establishing a support circle that helps bring a balanced perspective, or by outsourcing to an established expert.

    Again…thanks for sharing your insight.

  4. I discovered you and your blog after listening to Robert Middleton’s interview of you on blogging. Thanks for the great info! This list is terrific and I”m going to pass it on in my blog and to my clients. Since they’re all people who live with chronic illness and want to be more successful in the workplace, self employment inevitably comes up. I’d add two more points to your list (12 is a good number, too). 11. Make sure that you have a business idea that people know they need and that this is something you care about putting all energy into. 12. Ask yourself if you are someone who likes working alone for long periods of time because that’s what it’s going to take.

  5. Spread Some Office Love

    I read a lot of blogs. Among others, I read baby blogs, mama blogs, blogging blogs, music blogs, my new thing branding/marketing blogs (thanks to Know More Medias own Susan), wacky blogs, and not surprisingly office blogs. Obviously if you…

  6. I am also new to this lovely blog and its really been very educative.

    Keep up the gud wuk!


  7. Chris Owen says:

    I’ve just passed this post on to a client contemplating leaving her current job for her own business. Having knee-jerked my way out of one position when i wasn’t ready, these tips encompass a lot of my learning since then.

  8. A very interesting list. I know that people who start their own business often stick with their employer for exactly these reasons — but work nights and weekend on their own business to still be able to take advantage of the benefits mentioned in your top 10.

  9. I’m new to your blog, and you couldn’t have chosen 10 better reasons not to go into business for yourself.

    The one that sticks in my craw is having to pay double Social Security tax–once for myself and once for the company.

    Still, being my own boss, being able to turn on a dime without having to wait for layers of approval from corporate, not having to babysit employees or work next to jerks or hear the phrase “your great idea just won’t work,” and taking off on a summer afternoon to weed the garden still beats working for someone.

  10. jami says:

    Believeing in this list just shows how DEPENDENT you are and how you let somebody else take over your future. When you’re an employee, no matter how much you break your back, your boss still has control of your money. You’re happy with that $10,000 paycheck? Well, your boss is happier with a $100,000 salary. Entrepreneurship is what the world needs today, not some empoloyer-dependent liabilities.

  11. Lauren Muney says:

    I’ve been in business for myself for a while. It’s very hard… with moments of easy. All the 10 reasons you stated are the reasons I’m thinking of going back to the ’employed’ status – one which I never got along in, but I’m TIRED. Tired of everything being my fault, too tired of marketing efforts which don’t work, bad clients not paying on contracts because they arranged ‘a technicality’ (yes, I’m learning from those), and simply because I’m not a revenue-producing commidity [for someone else], my business is dispensible.

    I’ve been self-employed for off-and-on 20 years.

  12. LifeSlate says:

    Top 10 Reasons NOT to go in business for yourself

    #10: You cant blame your lame boss for your problems. As much as you might have complained about your boss or Management in your corporate job, you might find yourself missing the person who takes the heat for big decisions. Wh…

  13. articleworld says:

    I really enjoyed the 10listed features of self employment.
    Check out this introduction article on Self employment:
    4.Tax implications

    Being a self-employed person, I enjoyed your blog. keep your good work continuing..

  14. Hi Sherry!

    I’m so glad you liked the Top 10 List. In all the motivational talk about busting out and working for yourself, a bit of sobering reality is sometimes in order. There are ways around all 10 items, but you have to have a real passion for what you are doing and commitment to make it all work. I am delighted that you have found something that you really enjoy.

    Self-employment insurance is a huge issue for many people contemplating entrepreneurship, so you are in the right business!

    Thanks for reading!


  15. Hi Pamela,
    I thoroughly enjoyed your Top 10 list, so true, so true. In regards to #2, Self Funded Benefits, I work with an association that provides an option for the self-employed entrepreneur. When I left the workforce, COBRA was an option, but oh, so costly! In my search, I discovered my new life passion: check it out:
    Thanks again for a delightful blog, keep up the great articles!

  16. Working Solo says:

    The Carnvival of Entrepreneurship Turns 6

    Even thought it is only 6 issues old the Carnvial of Entrepreneurship is continuing to gather a useful package of practical tools for new and experienced entrepreneurs. This week David Daniels has wrestled with challenges thrown at him by Blogger

  17. Self-Employed Entrepreneur? 10 Reasons to Not Take the Plunge

    Pamela Stewart of Escape from Cubicle Nation blog writes 10 Reasons NOT to go into Business for Yourself, well worth the read. Here’s the last 3 reasons: Although I spend most of my time evangelizing about the benefits of entrepreneurship,

  18. Hi Patsi!

    Thanks so much for your kind words. The long answer to where I got my pics is that I was reading Garr Reynold’s excellent blog Presentation Zen ( and he wrote a post called Where can you find good images?

    From that post, I checked out free stock image sites and found I started out searching for just the number 10, but when all these great images of numbers came up, I decided to use different images for numbers 1-10.

    I started out just writing text posts, but lately have been having fun with images. Since they say 70% of the population are visual learners, I figure images might help engage my readers.


  19. Love this post, Pamela! …and I have a slight case of blog envy over your creative use of numbers. I am putting this idea into my ‘blog swipe file.’ Any chance you would reveal to me and my fellow Blog Squad partner Denise Wakeman where/how you got the number pics?

  20. Self-Employed Entrepreneur? 10 Reasons Why Not Take the Plunge

    Pamela Stewart of Escape from Cubicle Nation blog writes 10 Reasons NOT to go into Business for Yourself, well worth the read. Here’s the last 3 reasons: Although I spend most of my time evangelizing about the benefits of entrepreneurship,