So you’re thinking of starting your own business – Congratulations! It’s a big step to take and can have a lot of ups and downs down the road. However, with the Australian government’s support and encouragement of small businesses in consideration of their contribution to the Australian economy, it’s not difficult to find information that you need about running your own business.

But what is it actually like starting and running a business, you ask? Well, it really depends on the type of business, industry, size, and even the Australian economy at large. But there are a number of common emotional factors that make up the experience of operating a small business, and we’ve laid them out below to help you learn a bit about the reality of being a business owner and whether or not you’re up for the challenge.


Launching a new business can be a strenuous process.

The preparation and research done before opening your business takes a lot longer than you would expect. Even with a bright idea that you think can make you millions or could change the world, the process of turning that idea into reality can be really draining. This however, can probably give you some insight into whether or not you’re up for the task. If after a couple of weeks of planning your business and researching you already feel tired, anxious and demotivated, it could be a sign that a business may not be the best solution for you.


You need to know A LOT.

It’s different when you start with money. If you’re financially stable and have a lot of capital to spend, you can pay people to do the things that you don’t want to do or don’t know how to do. However, if you’re starting out with just enough money to launch and to operate in the initial stage, then you’ll need to learn and take on the roles of several positions. Rules and regulations for your industry, advertising guidelines, general business policies, trademarks, taxes, employment, marketing… It’s a headache to say the least.


It’s really fun being your own boss.

How many business owners start out from the vision of their successful life as a business owner while daydreaming at the desk at their day job? Well, it is all true. The things you imagined, the freedom you get, the quality time you get to spend with your family and friends, the energy you can spend on personal development and hobbies… They’re all true. You work your own hours and you take breaks when you want. And if you work in your PJs all day? Nobody tells you off!


Hard work pays off.

You can spend years at a company working your butt off, putting in unpaid overtime, putting work before your family or health, and still come out of it with nothing. Just because your work contributes to the company’s success, doesn’t mean you’ll earn more money or get a promotion. When you work for yourself, the revenue you increase for your business can be yours and you can actually get to play as hard as you work. Your life can actually grow alongside your business.


You need to deal with disappointment.

One of the biggest things small business owners may struggle with is the handling of the heartbreak that comes with their vision not being fulfilled in the way they imagined. You planned to spend 8 weeks to get your business up and running, but by week 8 you’re nowhere near launching a new company. Contractors are unreliable and they’re costing you time and money. You thought you’d earn $x by the end of the year but you’re not even half way there. These are the kinds of issues you need to deal with as a business owner and it’s not uncommon for you to feel completely lost when things don’t go as planned.


Expenses are always higher than you think.

When you first plan your business’s finance and cash flow, you don’t actually know how much the expenses will be. It’s likely that even the most conservative amount you guess will still not be as much as the actual figure. After a couple of years of running your business, this won’t happen as much. You’re used to your business expenses and the spending trends. But remember, most of the time, growth means more expenses.

“It’s likely that even the most conservative amount you guess will still not be as much as the actual figure.”


You need to make tough decisions and have tough conversations.

You need to do what’s best for your business and what fits your vision and business goal. That means having to cut ties with people from time to time and fire staff that are not working out for you. If a family friend is working on an aspect of your business as a contractor and they’re just not getting the job done, you’ll need to place them somewhere else or even consider letting them go. You’re not running a charity and you need to be tough when necessary.


You realise you don’t know anything about the market.

You might have thought that you can run a successful business because you have a lot of experience in marketing or have an extensive history of working in your sector and you know the target market. Occasionally, some business owners will find that they’ve been right about everything and they just launch into success overnight. However, the average business owner will find that their target market has “betrayed” them and things just don’t work out the way they imagined.


You work for free a lot.

Owning a business, especially in the initial stages, can be tough and financially challenging. It’s OK in the first few months when your business isn’t bringing in any real income and you’re working day and night to get it off the ground. But that’s still free labour you’re providing for your business. When your business is your “baby” it can become difficult to find the right balance. Just remember, you’re the worst boss in the world if you make yourself work for free!


You feel like you add value to society.

As a business owner, you can potentially provide employment opportunities for people, and you provide people with products or services that you believe in. At the end of the day, you wouldn’t have started a business if you didn’t think it was going to provide valuable opportunities or goods. When you watch your employees work, and remember that they get to pay their bills because of your business, it feels good. When you hear statistics about small businesses contributing 33.1% of all industry value added in the Australian economy (2013-2014), you feel good.


Your ideas can become realised.

Working for someone else can mean that even when you have great ideas that could increase overall revenue or the company’s presence in the market, these ideas can easily get ignored because you don’t have enough experience, or it’s not your responsibility to work on it, or you have more important projects to work on, and so on. When you have your own business, you can actually implement great ideas and run with them!


You learn how important it is to treat people well.

Just the way you felt when you were working for a company that didn’t appreciate you, your staff can feel exactly the same about you and your business if you don’t treat them well or empower them. Running a business makes you realise how important employees are, and the fact that you’re trusting them with your business. You learn that without your staff, contractors or customers, you won’t have a business to run.


You find yourself second guessing yourself.

Trusting your own vision and goal when the going gets tough can become challenging when you run your own business. You start to wonder, “would I have given this job to “me” if I wasn’t the owner?” An employer hiring you to do a job means you’re entrusted with the job, but being your own boss means you keep doubting your expertise when things get hard. What’s even more difficult is knowing when you actually need to listen to your self-doubt and adjust your plans accordingly.


Running a business and being your own boss can be fun, exciting and rewarding, but it can also cause heartaches, disappointment and a lot of anxiety. Having read about what it’s like to actually own a business, do you think you’re up for the task? What kind of ups and downs have you faced in your business journey so far, and how have you dealt with them? Share your responses below!