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Owning Your Own Business: All Fun & Games?

Posted: March 10, 2011, 2:20 p.m., EDT

Sometimes I have to laugh about the comments I hear from customers about owning their own business. The other day I was engaged in conversation with a new customer who had never been in my store before. He commented that he would like to own his own business someday in a "fun” industry just like me. His goal was simple: Find something he loved to do so that going to "work” didn’t really feel like going to "work” since he’d be having so much fun.

It is great to be your own boss, but it is not always just fun and games. Many people have the perception that all you need to do is fill your store with great products, open the doors and watch the customers flood in, throwing their well-earned money your way. While it would be nice if it worked that way, we all know better. There is a lot of work done behind the scenes that goes into making a business successful-- most people never see or don’t appreciate it because they’ve never experienced business ownership.

One of the "not so fun” things is that I miss my life before opening this business, when it was easy to escape. Now, the business is always there, hanging over almost everything that happens in my life. There’s staffing, doing payroll, event planning, ordering, ticketing, displaying, selling, etc. Sometimes, it is exhilarating being able to check off all of these tasks after a particularly productive day. Sometimes, it’s just overwhelming. Even when I lock the door at night, I’m already thinking about the next day: what to feature on Facebook, what I need to bake and who is working at each of my stores during my one day off.

Another "not so fun” thing is I used to enjoy snow days. On several occasions this winter as storm after storm pummeled the Northeast, I caught myself remembering what life was like when I worked in the corporate world and a monster storm was on the way. Would "they” make us come into work the next day or would "they” be closing early so that everyone could get home safely. It was kind of like a kid anticipating a snow day from school. Needless to say, I don’t root for bad weather anymore since both of my store locations have outdoor entrances and my business is loosely tied to what the weather is like. It’s funny how your perspective changes based on your situation.

But, the most "not so fun” thing about owning my own business is not having the free time to enjoy my children as much as I would like. During school breaks, instead of packing up and going to some tropical destination, they pack an activity bag and come into the store with me. While they are getting to the age where they can actually help in the store, I fear I’m missing out on their childhood and that really bothers me. I’m not at the point in my business where I can pack up and leave for week and not have business suffer.

I just hope the strong work ethic that I’m trying to teach by example will come in handy later in their lives--when I hand the reigns over to them so I can enjoy that tropical vacation.

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