The Ups and Downs of Becoming an Entrepreneur

If you're thinking about starting a small business you need to avoid rose-tinted spectacles and consider the challenges you will face as well as the benefits you'll reap. considers the ups and the downs of starting and running a small business.

Following your interests – When starting a business, you should stick to what you know. You have the chance to follow something that really interests you, or something in which you can develop an interest. Being stuck in a job in which your only focus is the pay packet at the end of the month can be spirit sapping. Becoming an entrepreneur gives you the chance to choose your business focus and if you can identify a gap in the market, you may be able to turn a hobby into a profitable enterprise.

Be careful, however, to avoid pursuing a business idea simply because it appeals to you. Think about your market – the people you are going to be selling to. If you conduct thorough market research you will be able to get a feel for the likely interest that your idea will generate. If the response is negative, it may be worth thinking again.

Click here for advice on writing a marketing plan and here for information about getting to grips with your market.

Working for yourself – Starting a business affords you the opportunity to do things your way. You won’t have to answer to anyone but yourself, apart from the taxman of course, and you can manage your own time. If you have immovable commitments you can work around them and, rather than lining the pockets of others, you could look forward to the sense of achievement as your business thrives and begins to grow.

However, self-motivation is key and if you don’t have it you could be your own worst enemy. If you lose focus your business could suffer. You may be able to choose your own hours, but this doesn’t mean taking frequent holidays. Remember, you will only get a lot out of the business if you put a lot into it.

Working from home – Many entrepreneurs work from home in order to save money on initial overheads. If you are used to commuting, long traffic jams in the mornings should become a thing of the past. A proportion of the expenses of the residence used for business – such as a study or office, surgery or workshop – can be charged against profits and you can charge the appropriate percentage of council tax, heating and lighting to the business.

Working from home may seem ideal, but striking the right work-life balance can be hard. It can be difficult to switch off from work if the temptation to carry on is there, or difficult to concentrate if, for instance, you have children. Try to schedule in periods in which to relax and set yourself a cut-off point in the evening to stop working in order to maintain a boundary between work and the rest of your life.

Related: Advice on how to achieve a better work-life balance

Diversity every day – Starting your own firm should help do away with those long, mundane days. You are likely to find that running your own firm will keep you busy and on your toes. With so much to think about, from suppliers to sales initiatives, money management to marketing strategies, there may never be a dull moment.

You will need to be on the ball to keep up with changes in legislation, to make sure that your accounts are in order while running and managing the business. All these things will fill up your time and you may find that you work long hours and weekends at the beginning. To avoid being overworked, organisation is paramount.

Advice on managing your time more effectively

Being creative – Starting a business for the first time is always a steep learning curve. If you go it alone you will have to take on a number of different roles. You will need to develop your business plan, become marketing manager and, if you don’t seek outside help, produce accounts with forecasts in order to secure funding. You should, however, look at this as a welcome challenge – a chance to be creative and put your own ideas into practice. There are no guarantees of success, but try to use this element of risk to motivate yourself – it will be your venture so the work you put in will be for you alone.

However, being a first-time entrepreneur is hard work and it takes a range of skills to succeed. Do not be afraid to seek help with those aspects in which you might lack experience. A good source to point you in the right direction business mentors whom you can call on for advice – Mentoring and its benefits

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