Self-employment: how hard can it be?


We all want to have that one simple idea for our own business. We all want to be our own boss. So we are not at the whim of another boss. So, how hard can it be to be in business?

Most of us have broken our new years resolutions by now. For some, getting into business was one. If it was the drink, we can give it up again for lent. But the enterprise idea will always be in the back of the mind, on the to-do list. What’s needed apart from fool’s bravery to break out on your own?

The killer idea

All businesses need an angle. The killer idea. I signed up to one of the most unique I saw of late: Gurushots. Its a photography contest website and app. It makes its money selling “swaps”, unlocking “keys” to allow boosts of photos to be voted on by other members. At an average of three euro a package for keys, swaps and boosts, payable through Google Play, an average user could go through a tenner a week.

Multiply THAT by a thousand members, and you get a picture of the scale of return.

But not all businesses are that simple.

Quay Street in Galway - The public are the bosses of Busker Businesspeople! Photo: Tom Carty

Quay Street in Galway – where the public are the bosses of buskers – in business for themselves Photo: Tom Carty

The business killer

All businesses take effort, and the one killer is to draw from the business as it’s getting up and going. You are the last one to get anything for the first year, lucky to get a little in the second, and by the third you should be getting places, and it will be worth it, for should it work, you will harvest for years to come.

Imagine the coding slog the owners of Gurushots went to to get the site up and running? The money spent in advertising, runs, test, debugging and so on.

Keep it simple

As with everything in life, keeping it simple is as good as any. Low overheads have to be gauged against making sure you are in the public eye. No point having a shop in a street where your target market do not go.

Know what you do, and do it well is the key. Window cleaning is a low overhead simple business, but doomed to fail if you or the staff you hire hate cleaning windows and do a bad job.

The bad news about being your own boss

The bad news about being your own boss in business, is that not everyone is your boss. Your clients who complain, your workers who whinge, your suppliers who overcharge, deliver late, and think it their right to expect you to take what they offer.

Open eyes

Go into business with your eyes open

Going into business should be done from an interest in it, not to get out of a problem. Finding it hard to work for others will not be solved by being your own boss.

Make provision to keep yourself from savings, not from drawings from the business. In a case of a limited company, if they exceed (or its recorded they exceeded!) 10% of the assets it’s an offence.

There has to be an exception to the rule

About the only enterprise where you can draw from the business without crippling it is farming – where the stock or food produced can be eaten, or accommodation where the building asset can have a section where the owner can live. Same is true for a shop – should it come with an apartment attached.

The one place you do NOT want to heavily engage in the business stock, and too many do, is if you own a pub!

About the Author

Thomas Carty
Thomas Carty is a Renmore resident, having moved to Galway for work a couple of years ago. Both his parents were originally from Ballinalee in Co. Longford but he grew up in Banagher and maintains his Offaly connections with membership of the poetry group Tullamore Rhymers Club. An amateur genealogist and historian, he writes on a range of topics that grab his interest. He works at security to pay the bills, and travels widely around Europe to keep sane!

1 Comment on "Self-employment: how hard can it be?"

  1. You do not need a killer idea to run a successful business. I know people in Galway that sell essential oils via network marketing out of their house with well into the 6 figure annual income. Some of my executive coaching clients make good money with team building programs on client site. Their house is their office. Now, a lot of people sell essential oils or offer team building programs. The few ones that succeed understand that 90% of success is doing. All of their success is a summary of decisions that have acted upon. Most people fail in business because they do make enough decisions. The more decisions you make, the better you will become at it. Don’t we all know people that understand how to make money in good times as in bad? How come? We all have the same opportunities, same resources, same challenges, same economy, same businesses, etc. The difference is in the ability to judge which ones are good decisions and bad. Making decisions is like growing a muscle. The more you use them, the stronger they become. Good judgement is a result of experience, which is a result of mistakes, which are results of bad decisions, which are results of bad judgment.

    When was the last time you made a decision that changed your life – for better or worse? Make those decisions often and you will succeed. You have the power to make them multiple times every day. Take. Action. Now.

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