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A Day in the Life of a Small Business Owner

So, you don’t want to work for the Man. In fact, you want to be the Man – or possibly the Woman. Then owning your own business is the career for you. The small business owner is the backbone of the American economy. Ninety-nine percent of all employers are small business owners. They provide 75% of the new jobs created every year, and they are responsible for 96% of all exported goods. Small business owners work out of garages, small stores on Main Streets, and huge corporate campuses. Before you begin selling t-shirts in Time Square or offering oranges in Orlando, you need a business plan. A business plan is your roadmap to success. It includes a description of your product or services, how you are going to finance your business (loans, investors, grandma), deadlines for your business and the ultimate goal. As a small business owner, you need to be aware of the six Ms: MISSION – you have to know exactly what your services will do for client. MARKET – you have to know who your client is and how you can find them. MESSAGE – your mission has to be clear enough that your market understands who you are and what you have to offer. MEDIA – This is the best way to get your message out there (radio, print, television, sky writers). METHOD – You know what to do, with whom, with what, when and how to do it. You’re in control of your business. MANAGEMENT – this is you, operating your business in such a way that your clients are completely satisfied. An ideal small business owner knows how to make plans, solve problems, hire, train, motivate, and lead employees. Being a small business owner is risky; it is probably the most risky legal career you can choose. But, with a lot of hard work – a lot of hard work – a dash of determination, and a dollop of luck, the rewards of starting your own business are excellent (think Bill Gates).
Jim Koch, Founder and Brewmaster, Samuel Adams Brewery
Best Entry-Level Job: Boston Beer Company

Paying Your Dues

Starting your own business is not easy. Some statistics show that small businesses will not see a significant profit for two years (although you do need to show a profit after the third year, or the IRS might think you are trying to hide something). Owning your own business is not a 9 to 5 job. Self-employed contract workers (writers, consultants) may work long hours under tight deadlines, while store owners spend anywhere from 80 to 120 hours or more a week maintaining their business. And then there are the regulations. Federal laws, state laws, city laws, all must be followed in order to remain in business. Small business owners have to adapt to the ever-fickle customer. Pet rocks may have been hot a few decades ago, but if you’re still trying to sell them today, you don’t have to look hard to see why your business is going under.

Present and Future

The small business owner has been around since the days of bartering services. Throughout the years, small business owners have provided goods and services, employment, and government taxes. In a society based on capitalism, the small business owner can thrive, as long as they provide a product or a service that people need or just plain want. Today, over 66 percent of new businesses remained open 2 years, 49 percent at least 4 years, and 30 percent at least 6 years. In 1999 588,900 new small businesses opened their doors, while 528,600 closed up shop. However, of those that closed, over half said they were successful when they packed it in. Three percent of the self-employed own franchises, and over half work at home.

Quality of Life

PRESENT AND FUTURE

Long hours, little rest, meager amounts of money – all of this and more fill the first two years of being your own boss. This is the make or break time, when almost 40 percent of new businesses fold. But, if you’ve got the will, determination, and the means, making it over the two year hump can give you the confidence – and cash – to continue.

FIVE YEARS OUT

By now, the small business owner has been working long enough to get the kinks out. Problems like delinquent suppliers, lack of customers, and possible employee dissatisfaction have been meet and hopefully resolved in a way that prepare the small business owner to meet the challenges of some of the bigger bumps in the road (like say an global economic slowdown).

TEN YEARS OUT

Most small business owners still around after ten years find they have more time on their hands. If business is strong, employees are happy and productive, and customers are satisfied, the small business owner can take more time to ponder the possibilities of expansion. One word: Franchise.