Working for oneself can be a scary proposition. Truth be told, working for someone else is equally frightening. The threats and worries of both are always there, and even if the impact seems more direct for a small business owner, large companies fold every day for some of the same reasons. Let’s take a look at some of these things that come our way.
1. Competition. There’s always someone out there who can do what we do. Some can do it better, or at least as good as we can. This means that we have to find ways to differentiate ourselves from others so that we’re the first choice. We don’t have to be miles ahead of someone else, we just have to be a bit more persistent.
2. Wages. Wages can also be seen as rate, how much we charge, how much money we want to make. Businesses feel threatened by attempts to increase minimum wage because even if they pay more than that they feel pressured to modify salaries based on it. For those of us working for ourselves we have to balance what the market will bear against what we feel we’re worth based on our experiences and education. At the same time we have to see what our competitors are doing and, to an interesting extent, try not to harm our industry by offering services so low that no one can make a living.
3. Government. Everyone has to deal with all these regulations. We all have to pay taxes and chart our income some way. We also work with other businesses that deal with the same types of things, and sometimes we have to work under those rules. It seems strange saying that government is a threat, but it’s definitely something that’s always in the back of our minds, whether it’s federal, state, local or even law enforcement, which is a part of the government by extension.
4. Complacency. This comes either when things seem too easy or you just can’t figure out your next step so you do nothing. So many people that have said “I don’t have to market because I get all referrals” suddenly find themselves one day needing to market and they don’t know how. So many people decided to work for themselves, got something immediately, had a long term commitment, and one day that ends and now they’re wondering “what next”? These are the times we need to plan for because almost everyone goes through it at some point.
5. Fear. We might we well throw fear in here because all of us have it at some point. The problem with fear is that it can lead to total inaction; we can’t even get started because fear has gripped us. This happens in large businesses also; we just need to look at Kodak and how tightly they tried to hold onto a past that was closing up fast.
6. Media and Social Media. These may not seem like threats but they are. Do someone wrong and it can be on Twitter in seconds. Really do someone wrong and it turns into a blog post. Get your marketing message wrong and, even if you fix it, your business could be done before dinner. Ignore it and you might not only get left behind, but you may not know you’re being trashed and not even know why the phone has stopped ringing, if you’re getting lots of rings to begin with.
Nothing is ever simple; then again, if it was why do it? Keeping these things in mind as things to worry about shouldn’t paralyze you. They need to inspire you because you at least have some ideas of things to watch out for and to not be immobilized by. Truthfully, it’s one of the reasons I joined PCA, because everyone has stories that involve these things, and everyone has tales of how they pushed forward and achieved something positive. We all can use more of that.