3 Common Misconceptions About Small Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur working from the beach

I love being a small business owner and entrepreneur.

It allows me the opportunity to control (somewhat) my own destiny, engage with clients I love, do the work I’ve always wanted to do, and spend more time with my family.

That being said, it’s tough work.  I talk with fellow consultants all the time who love what they do, but half-jokingly lament the fact that many of their (our) clients really don’t appreciate the challenges that face us, due some common misconceptions.

Here are three such misconceptions:

1) Every Day is a Vacation.

Have I taken conference calls from the beach on more than one occasion? Absolutely. Have I written memos from just off a Las Vegas casino floor? Definitely.

The fact that I don’t work from an office, however, doesn’t take away from the fact that many small business owners, like me, don’t actually get true vacations where we can tune out work and the “real world” for days (or even hours, sometimes) at a time.

Most of my clients are able to take week (sometimes two week) vacations where they tell their staffs and consultants that they will be unreachable for a week. But good luck getting them to accept that type of behavior from me.

The very fact that I am taking a call from the beach shows that even my beach vacation time is disrupted by work. Heck, I even had to run to my local FedEx location on the afternoon of my son’s birth.

As a business owner, I know that if I’m not “on call” — the business doesn’t run.  I love my work. I love my job. I love my clients.  But every day certainly isn’t a vacation, and most vacations aren’t actually, well, vacations.

2) We’re Raking in the Cash.

I make a good living from my work, and I’ve been fortunate that my businesses have done very well during the past seven years. But that could all change tomorrow; or next month; or next year.  Many of my fellow consultants have had killer decades, followed by some very lean years.

As small business owners, we shoulder the risks. We carry the stress of knowing that if we don’t “kill”, we don’t eat. We pay for our own health insurance.

Running a business is hard work, and it comes with many risks.  Some of us make it work and do well — but there is always uncertainty lurking around the corner.

3) Size Matters.

The world is full of corporations and organizations who hire big name consulting/advertising/PR firms simply because of that firm’s “name.” That’s also why the world is full of consultants (like me) who make a living off of replacing big name consulting firms who fail to deliver value after cashing way too many of their clients’ checks.

Let me put it this way: I’ve worked for large PR firms. I’ve worked for small PR firms.  I’ve had to hire small PR firms.  I’ve had to hire large PR firms.

I’ve had to (or wanted to) fire many more large firms than small firms. Why? They’re typically unresponsive, bloated, bureaucratic, and slow to act.

I work with small businesses every day who, due to their expertise, small size and strategic partnerships, provide exponential value at a fraction of the cost to each of their clients.

Yes, I’m a small firm and writing this post is somewhat selfish. But I also hate seeing organizations (especially in this economy) throw their money away.

What do you think? Are you a small business owner or entrepreneur who has some additional common misconceptions to share?  Let us know in the comments!

2 Replies to “3 Common Misconceptions About Small Entrepreneurs”

  1. Great points all. I would add a few. Being your own boss in small definitely has its advantages but you have to be willing to work without a net. When things are good you feel like you are on top on the world. When they take a turn for the worse, it can get very lonely. It is a constant balancing act to service your existing clients while continually searching for new ones. Even when times are good you need to be out there pitching. Losing your biggest client may be only a phone call away and it can happen even if you are doing a great job for them. Leadership changes, budget cuts, mergers and acquisitions all can affect your situation. Unlike pro sports, there are no guaranteed contracts in our business! That said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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