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Frequent surprises for those who go from employee to entrepreneur

Many people who come from a warm and cozy – and a little boring – world as employees have prejudices about what it's like to be an entrepreneur. They are a little too eager to start a business and believe they have a pretty clear picture of what it means.

Here is their prejudices and the surprises they get:

Prejudice - I don't have to work so much.
Surprise - You will be working a lot harder. I usually work 60-70 hours a week, but there is an important difference between me and a staff member. Firstly, I've choose this life myself. Secondly, I reap the rewards of the job itself.

Prejudice - it will be me who decides everything
Surprise - In a way, it's true, but now you get many more bosses. It's your customers who order and decide for you. And who pay for your vacations. It's wonderful to have someone pay for your vacations, isn't it? Yes it is, and that's also why it isn't too hard to put up with the idea of other people (your customers) calling the shots.

Prejudice - I can finally get paid a lot of money.
Surprise - Entrepreneurs often work more and earn less than their employed counterparts. But there is a chance that you can earn a lot more than any staff member. Everything depends on you and what you do to make money. The difference is that when you start your own business the money available on your company's account, you're the one who controls the funds. Once your business is established, I'm quite sure that you will earn more than as an employee, but you have to persevere and hold on until then.

Prejudice - I won't have to put up with people I don't like.
Surprise - Sure, you can kick out customers you don't like, but you won't because you depend on them to keep your business alive. But, again, it's easier to put up with unjust accusations, yells and even screams from obnoxious people if you know that you have been well paid for the “abuse”.

Prejudice - I can just do fun things all day
Surprise – Let's say you're a talented computer consultant and really love to get busy with solutions for businesses. That's what you want to do. You don't want to sell. You don't want to work with marketing. Unfortunately, you got it wrong. You MUST work with marketing and sales. Otherwise there will be no glorious computer projects for you to get busy with.
When the company grows you can, of course, hire people to do everything you don't like doing yourself.

Prejudice - I will be free.
Surprise - If by free you mean that you can do whatever you want with your time and if you have bills to pay every month like most of us, you will not be free. Your customers are the ones who are making your schedule (it's the clients that set schedules for all successful businesses). But again, you will have other things instead of freedom. Things you didn't have as an employee. Quick decision making, for example. More money in the end, for example. Funnier days, for example. Well, you get the point ...

Prejudice - I will finally have control over everything.
Surprise - One of the nice things about starting your own business is that you get the chance to really get to know yourself. You will get to know what you are good at and what you're really lousy at doing. The only insight you should take away from this is that no one is perfect (not even you), ha ha. All the things you’ve always been angry that others have failed to do, will come back to bite you in the butt now. It's called learning and it's healthy (I've been told).
You might find it difficult to organize your job, to sell, to explain complicated things and now it's your problem to solve it all. Everything lands on your table, but don't worry – you will be able to cope with it all. Ask me. After 15 years I know.

Prejudice - This will be the answer to all my desires.
Surprise - The sum of all the problems might be constant in the end because sure, now you won’t have to argue with the pesky IT department from your last job, but instead you now need to fix your computer yourself. You may get to work more with what you love, but you will also have to work hard to keep up with your family and friends.

Never forget that ...
... there's nothing that beats the feeling of being a person who is able to support himself/herself (and more than that) and to be responsible and get to enjoy all the benefits that comes with the responsibility.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
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