As a follow-up to yesterday’s post, I’d like to take a few minutes today and “expose the ugly truth” behind five small business ownership myths. To make the column more fun and less “snarky” – maybe! – I’d like to address these misconceptions by setting them up using actual remarks people have made to me when they discovered I owned a small business.
1. Remark: “So listen, you have your own a business, just have the business lease you a car.”Reality: I sometimes wonder if people even understand that a business must be a little better than profitable before business owners can give themselves “perks” like leased cars or cell phones. Just because one owns a business does not mean crazy wealth and success. No limitless line of credit is bestowed upon you once you receive your vendor’s license.
2. Remark: “It must be so great, owning your own business and working/being off whenever you feel like it. Being able to take a vacation any time you want? Awesome.”Reality: While there is some flexibility in my schedule, the hard truth is I am one of two employees at my company; the other is my business partner. We do it all – all the bookkeeping, all the ordering, all the display, all the cleaning, all the customer service, all the “all the’s…” It is us or no one else. So, while we can come in late after a dentist appointment, it’s not as if we can jet off to Paris whenever we like. My last “real” vacation was almost two years ago now.
3. Remark: “Do you have killer health insurance since you own your own business? Free dental and eye care?”Reality: I do, in fact, have reasonable health care – thanks mostly to ACA (The Affordable Care Act – Obamacare). But it isn’t free or anything – you do not “get” free health, dental and eye insurance just because you open a business. These are not small business “sign up” gifts. I struggle to pay for my insurance just like everyone else does.
4. Remark: “Can I get a better price if I pay you in cash? C’mon, you save credit card fess, so how about a price break? Can I not pay tax?”Reality: When you ask this question, you do two things – insult me and embarrass yourself.
First, as a small business owner, I must price things to compete with multi-million dollar companies AND provide stellar customer service as well. Please do not nickle-and-dime me with your offer of cash. Would you walk in Saks Fifth Avenue and ask THEIR clerk if there is a better price for cash? I didn’t think so. BTW, I do not “sell” tax – everyone pays sales tax. And,
Once you ask that question, prepare to be shot down with a firm and resolute “No.” Then swallow your pride and accept the answer – do not fire back with how you saw it “…somewhere on line for less but wanted to buy it locally.” If you saw it somewhere else for less, go buy it there.
5. Remark: “I wish I had your job – it must be so easy working for yourself…”
Reality: If you really believe that, THANK GOD you never tried to open your own business. You would have failed… I have never worked as hard (I used to work in a foam rubber factory in college, making bus seat inserts) and as long (at one time in my life I had three jobs at once, working from 8A till 3A three days a week back to back ) and with as much stress (I had a sales job that “asked” I sell a million dollars a year in product) as I have with my own business. I often joke that I’d be happy to trade places with anyone for a week, my job for theirs, and we’d see what they thought after those seven days.
So, is small business ownership “worth it?” You bet! I LOVE what I do and even on the MOST trying days, it is all worth it. My only wish is that people could understand and honor the dogged determination, the commitment and – honestly? – the insanity required to make any independent business work. It’s hard (but I love it!)
Thanks for listening – I hope you have a better understanding of, greater respect for and deeper appreciation of small business owners everywhere. Small business helps make America amazing. Please support small, indie businesses. You need US just as much as we need YOU! THX!