Thursday, November 3, 2011

The 3 Things...about Self-Employment

My father has been successfully self employed for well over 20 years. His small business has created jobs for family members, and recently expanded to more than 4 employees (none of which are family). I'm pretty proud of the fact that his business is hanging in there. 

My wife now owns her own aesthetic business, my sister and brother in law own run thier own business, and I've noticed that even in different industries, the perception of self-employment is the same. Here's what I've found:

#1 - "Must be nice to work whatever hours you want."

If anyone ever says this to you, and you're self-employed, I GUARANTEE that you have resisted the urge to punch him or her dead in the face. "Whatever hours you want" usually equates to roughly 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week. My wife has went in on her scheduled off days, stayed late for clients, opened early for clients; my dad has worked insane hours to meet deadlines. Here's the thing, it's not because they want to, it's because THAT is what is making their businesses thrive. Customer service is a lost art, ladies and gentlemen. Don't believe me? Find your nearest Wal-Mart and stand in an aisle for about 45 minutes........and then go look for someone to help you......and then find someone else that the previous someone sent you to because after 15 minutes of searching, he/she gave up and is sending you to a different department.

#2 - "You must make a ton, not having to split profits or anything"

This is the phrase that doesn't deserve a punch in the face. A kick in the shins will suffice for this dunce. Coming from personal experience, "ALL the profits" made in the course of business really means after the 75% gets put back INTO the business (products, wages, etc.), and the 15-20% in taxes that you have to put aside, You take your awesome 5% and go put that cash down payment on the Mabach you've been eyeing. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to know that a business is making money, and there are some that make a lot of money. But for the most part, having a roof over their heads is the best example a small business owner can show that they are successful.

Ironically, this is made with the actual amount the house is worth.

#3 - "There's no HR department, so you can do and say whatever you want."

They left out "Call your boss a douchebag."

Sigh.....this statement is untrue. As a business owner, you are not only the manager, purchasing agent, quality control, host/hostess, accountant, laborer, AND human resources department. Just because it's your business doesn't mean you can't lose your self control. There are still going to be jerk customers, jerk vendors, and jerk employees. There is no way for a small business to survive if they treat any of these people rudely enough to ensure that a negative word of mouth campaign IN THE VERY AREA THEY OPERATE IN would ensue. If a Wal-Mart has issues with staff, customers, or vendors in a specific area, they shut down the store and move it to another area. Small businesses can't do that. True, some businesses have used the Internet to increase their area of influence, but for the most part, they are local.

Now if you ever hear these words being said at a small business owner, tell them that their punk ass kid might be working for them someday, and to have a little respect. 


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