Do You Own a Business?

Or do you own a job? I had a conversation with my auto mechanic, who also happens to be a client. He indicated a desire to sell his business. Since we are close to the same age, I asked him what he would do after he sold. His answer was simple, “I’ll just go buy myself another job.”

What he meant was, “This job is the same as any other job. It just happens to have my name on the door, and there is no boss to tell me what to do.”

To me, that statement takes on a much larger statement. In a service business like IT, the customers are often attached to the owner. The relationship is formed and nurtured by the owner. The owner knows all about the customer’s network, and if something goes down during a critical time, the customer knows the owner will be there to bail him or her out.

In the extreme, some customers may refuse to work with your employees. Vacations become next to impossible because your customer won’t upgrade their systems and the amount of work to maintain them becomes overwhelming. You don’t want to fire the customer because they pay you handsomely for your added attention, but you’re miserable and stuck in a job that you really don’t want. No amount of money is worth that.

This attachment between customer and IT business owner makes it hard for some IT firms to grow. It makes it even harder to sell the business, because you don’t own a business. You own a job.

A few years ago, I sold a large portion of my business. I had a vision of the work I wanted to do, and it did not fit in with the business I had. I sold the assets, the customers and along with it went the office and the employees. Once on my own, I was free to focus on the work I wanted to do instead of trudging through the work I had to do.

There are many reasons why people choose to own a job instead of a business. Here are a few examples:

  • Family – Your children are only young once. You want them to have memories of you attending their games and recitals instead of remembering you at work while they played.
  • Live Now – You would like to travel while you’re in your 30s instead of when you’re in your 70s. There is no rule that says you cannot retire now and work later. Make enough money to get by and enjoy life, and you can focus on your business later.
  • Burnout – You have a great skillset and can make good money, but need a break after a high-stress job or project.
  • Hobbies – Perhaps you have hobbies or interests that you prefer doing, but need an income to sustain.

Whatever your reason, there is nothing wrong with your decision. It is your life, live it your way.

At some point, you may decide you don’t want a job anymore. You are now ready to take on the responsibilities of owning a business. Perhaps, your job is getting busier than one person can handle or you have a new product or service and are ready to expand. In another post, we will talk about the steps to plan and achieve moving to the next quadrant in your career. Thanks for reading!