Small business ownership is glamorised by radio presenter celebrities and other self-anointed small business experts. But do they have what it takes to own and run a small business?
I know a man in his 80s, who has severe shingles, still goes to work and stands behind his cash register every day. When he goes to the back of his store to get something, he shuffles in pain. Why does he do it? He tells me despite his agony, working in his business keeps him alive.
Working in a small business means you can’t be afraid of hard work, long hours and physical labour. You’ve got to be present in your business all the time otherwise things can go wrong – money suddenly disappears from your till, employees slack off and go outside for numerous cigarette breaks and social media catch ups on their cell phones.
Then, in an environment plagued by criminals, there is the danger of losing your life.
And what about the rewards? You’d think that small business owners are doing fabulously because they run their own show. Most often it’s not the case. They don’t have the benefits of life-long employment, pensions, medical aids and free and subsidised housing like public officials, for example.
No, it’s tough work.
But at this stage you may be saying there must be upsides. Of course there are. The much vaunted freedom to do your own thing. The harder you work, the more you earn. Security of employment if you keep a watchful eye on changes in your market place and demographics in your local community or business-to-business market.
In environments where officials view small business as a necessary evil, something to extract the lifeblood out of , milk dry or crush, small business owners face their biggest challenges. There are small business owners working in hell’s kitchen where their livelihoods, assets and lives are at the mercy of others.
Wanna join them?
Perhaps the celebrity radio presenters and their too-eager-to-say-the-right-thing celebrity expert guest commentators should spend a day working in a hard-core small business and get a taste of what it’s like.