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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Paraskevopulos

"Is Entrepreneurship Really for You? Exploring the Realities of Running a Business."

So you made it through your apprenticeship, does that mean you are ready to own a business? Maybe. Maybe Not.

A person in a plaid short on a computer
Photo Credit to Unlimit on Unsplash

It's the dream, right? You've worked 'for' people your whole apprenticeship, and maybe even into the first few years of your career, and now you're ready to hang up your own shingle and work for yourself. No more boss to give you orders, no more being told which jobs to do – you're now in charge of what you do and when. But many people in the trades are not suited to run their own shops. It's not just about freedom; it's a massive commitment. So let's talk about it. Let's dive into what you need to know before you tell your boss to pound salt and head out on your own. Here are three red flags you should ask yourself before you go down the path of entrepreneurship.

1) You Work In Your Business, Not On Your Business

A framer on an exterior wall outside
Photo Credit To Josh Olade on Unsplash

We all know that tradesperson who is amazing at what they do but an utter disaster when it comes to paperwork or dealing with humans in general. Just because you are talented at what you do does not mean that you have the business acumen needed to run a business that is healthy for you, your family, or your clients.

If you are the kind of person who feels like getting an assistant/virtual assistant to answer your incoming calls is a waste of money, then you may not have the mindset to run a business. There are way too many tradespeople out there running around like chickens with their heads cut off, answering calls in the middle of jobs, not returning calls because they spilled coffee on their callback sheet, and thinking that this chaos and disorganization is a normal part of the job. Who suffers? Everyone. There are so many tools out there to help you keep organized and on track, but if your first thought is that you don't want to spend any additional money on things which optimize your business, you should probably reconsider running a business at all.

When it comes down to it, if you love what you do but not all the stuff that comes with being the owner of a shop, your best option is to find a great business to work for, a place that offers you great pay and benefits, and a team you like. There's nothing wrong with that. Union jobs can be great too. It just depends on what you value, and what you are suited for.

There is no 'one size fits all.'

2) Budgeting For Your Living Expenses Is Not Your Forte

A phone and some papers where budgets are written
Photo Credit to Firmbee on Unsplash

If you have a hard time paying yourself first, budgeting for your employees, and figuring out how to budget for flush times as well as slow times, you may do better getting a paycheck than being a boss.

Being in the trades can be a challenge in terms of what we call 'feast or famine.' It's similar in real estate and other sales-based businesses where there are times when the money seems to be pouring in, and other times where it's more of a challenge. And guess what? If you have overhead like buildings, vans, or employees, you need the same amount of money for your base expenses when things are busy as well as slow. Let's not forget about insurance and paying your accountant for those end-of-year tax filings (Incorporation Tax filings $2500+/-, don't you know!). It can feel like someone always has their hands in your pockets.

So, if you are not good at putting money aside to cover expenses (foreseen and unforeseen), then you may not enjoy running a business. It's stressful. People may be relying on you. You can't just switch off at 5 PM. If that doesn't sound like something you want to contend with, maybe business ownership is not for you.

3) You Have No Idea How Much Time It Takes Outside Of Work To Actually Run The Business

A man lying on the ground with his face covered by a book with a question mark on it
Photo Credit to Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

When you worked as an employee, you likely showed up and were told the scope of work. Materials were delivered to you, sometimes a work van was provided, and you did your job. Human resources dealt with your paycheck, your benefits (if any), and if there was an on-site issue, there was a chain of command in place. The company was responsible for quoting the jobs, landing the jobs, and organizing the site. Social media and advertising had nothing to do with you, and if there were additional tasks added to the scope, you would potentially be compensated for your mileage or time, etc.

Do you want to be Human Resources?

Are you good at Quoting and Qualifying leads so you don't waste your time?

Can you handle all of the non-job-related tasks associated with running a business?

Do you want to know and understand insurance, liability, taxes, budgeting, etc.?

Are you OK with not having a set start and end time?

Will it bother you that you spend a lot of your time doing 'unpaid' work to land jobs?

Are you interested in or capable of doing social media and advertising?

If all of this is stuff you want nothing to do with, consider remaining an employee for a bit longer. If you are unhappy where you are, a better option may be switching employers, locations, provinces, or even the types of work you do. Skilled trades have many interesting offshoots: teaching, inspecting, specialty niches. You could even consider off-the-beaten-path jobs in films, the military, or the marine industry. Think outside the box. Maybe the pace of being a framer in Ontario doesn't suit you, but you are much more suited to creating prefab houses in Cape Breton. Who knows? Figure out what makes you happy, and pursue it!

Take Aways

All I know is this: I've spoken to many people who started businesses in the trades, only to sell them or close them down completely because they weren't prepared for the reality of entrepreneurship. Ignore Instagram and other social media platforms showcasing only successful entrepreneurs, and understand the harsh reality of running your own business. Running a successful business is possible if you're willing to learn all the necessary skills, but it's hard work.

If you decide to give it a go, ensure you list on The Project Garage to tap into a supportive community, generate leads, and earn money while building your business.

You CAN do it.

Just approach it with your eyes wide open.

© The Project Garage 2024


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