The Reality vs. The Dream of Owning Your Own Business

So many of us dream of owning our own businesses. Even in an economic climate where small businesses are closing at such a rapid rate or even if we are not sure exactly what KIND of business we would like to own and operate, we dream. We might make notes of how we would do things differently if we owned the business or keep a file or notes of types of businesses we would like to own. The first challenge, of course, is to make that dream a reality and THEN comes the challenge of reconciling reality with all those dreams we carried around with us for years!

It can be extremely enlightening to sit down with a small business owner who is 1-2 years into a new business and ask them to share their experiences around “What the reality of owning the business has been like compared to the dream?” You might be surprised at the things they say are much more difficult or much easier than what they had anticipated. Many novice small business owners underestimate the amount of time, effort and resources that will go to initial licensing and getting the business set up and operational. They may think that is just a matter of getting the funding and opening the doors but there are often multiple government agencies and licenses and other details to tend to prior to the business ever making its first dollar.


Others find that the expenses of maintenance, upkeep and replacement of equipment and supplies far surpass what they anticipated. For example, a new small coffee business owner may anticipate the initial cost of acquiring all the equipment to operate but underestimate how much it will cost when things break down or need to be repaired or replaced.


There is a place for those lofty dreams of how fabulous life will be as you serve up plates of food in your own restaurant or build houses or whatever business you dream of owning, but there is also a place for getting down to the gritty details of reality. As you draw up your business plan and organize budgets and details for your future small business, be sure to allow for conversations and preparations for reality as well. Talk to other business owners, ready articles and books and try to anticipate where the challenges, surprise expenses and pitfalls might be in order to have a more realistic expectation of what being a small business owner will entail.