Why Owning Your Own Business Shouldn’t Be The End Goal, and What Should Be

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For those of you who aren’t business owners, you may dream of one day being in charge. Being a full time entrepreneur is an ambition for many, but as with most things in life, the fantasy can actually be a terrible reality.

If your aim is simply to “own a business”, you could be in for a nasty shock. What you should consider perhaps more thoroughly is why you want what you think you want; and by extension, whether or not you actually do.


Photo by WWarby

There are plenty of business owners out there who feel utterly overwhelmed by their work. A job can be beneficial for many reasons – security potentially being one of them.

Meanwhile, many entrepreneurs wrestle with cashflow issues on a consistent basis. “Just getting by” on a modest salary is one thing – not knowing whether you will be able to get by from one month to the next is something else altogether.

Related: The Tradeoffs Of Owning Your Own Business Vs Working A Day Job

Don’t get me wrong – I am not anti-entrepreneurship. Far from it in fact – I quit my job at the end of last year. I took risks, which I would like to think were carefully calculated. But simply owning a business does not represent a cure-all. Your quality of life, and that of your family’s, is far more important than anything.

Full time entrepreneurship does not guarantee a better quality of life – in fact, it could promote an opposite effect.

It’s All a Matter of Perspective

I do not intend to climb up on a soap box and preach here. I am no “self-help guru”, nor do I consider myself a kind of expert on fulfillment. But I can talk to you about my own experience in setting goals, hitting them, realizing that it wasn’t what I really wanted, and completely re-assessing my outlook on life.

Related: What Type Of Entrepreneur Do You Want To Be?

The simple fact is that a lot of people are driven (often subconsciously) by goals that will not ultimately result in their happiness. If you assess what you truly want from life, as opposed to what you think you want, you might be surprised. It is amazing how much a change of perspective can affect your attitude towards every facet of living.

I always wanted money. I used to think that success was defined by your wage. This attitude seems to permeate through the western culture. Keeping up with the Joneses, working hard for a better future, and so on. But eventually, I discovered that it wasn’t what I wanted at all.

Defining a Better Goal

The epiphanic moment came for me when I began to understand that time is by far the most valuable commodity we have. Money is a means to an end – it can be earned in abundance, or not. Either outcome does not determine whether or not you will actually be happy.

The simplest explanation of what makes you happy is essentially how you spend your time. If you work 70 hour weeks and earn an enormous amount of money, but you hate your job and have no free time to spend your earnings, do you consider yourself successful? I wouldn’t envy that person, nor want his or her life.

I originally wanted to work for myself so that I could earn more money. Now that I do work for myself, I love it because I have control over my time. I can work more hours and earn more money, and vice versa. I can work to increase my income per hour worked. On a daily basis, I can decide what I want to do with my time.

A Balancing Act

The key is in living for the present, as well as the future. One extreme says that you could be hit by a bus tomorrow, so you should live each day as if it were your last. The other extreme says that you should work hard now for a better tomorrow. In my opinion, a balance should be struck in the middle.

When it comes to my definition of success, I consider there to be four key considerations:

  1. Am I earning more than my outgoings?
  2. Are my earnings on an upwards trend?
  3. Am I happy with my future prospects?
  4. Am I happy with my day-to-day living?

When I am setting goals, I ask myself the above four questions. There is nothing wrong with choosing to do less than eight hours work a day because you are happy with how much you are earning. It is not lazy or unambitious. It simply reflects that you are confident in knowing what you want from life.

Owning a business may allow you to satisfactorily answer the above questions, but it is not necessarily the end game – more a means to an end.

What About You?

At this point, I am happy with my earnings as long as they continue on an upwards trend. But what about you – how do you strike an effective balance between living for now and for the future? How do you recognize that sweet spot? Let us know in the comments section!

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17 thoughts on “Why Owning Your Own Business Shouldn’t Be The End Goal, and What Should Be”

  1. Chris Pondexter says:

    This is a great way to look at entrepreneurship. A lot of people these days are going the “lifestyle” route which is perfectly acceptable. No need to work 100 hours days if all you want to do is replace your income.

  2. I love this post as it resonates so much with me. I have been an employee and ran a business with a partner and now on my own. Although I earned a lot more as an employee I’m not sure I would jump back to that life nowadays purely due to the quality of my life now. I’m so much happier now that only I’m in control – more or less. I wouldn’t recommend it for the faint-hearted though. Thanks for sharing on Bizsugar.com

  3. Yes, I agree. Owning a business doesn’t mean to an end. I think the reason we want to own business isn’t the business itself. We want to get freedom on financial, time or other.

  4. Lifestyle is indeed what it’s all about. Every day is a great day when you love what you do!

    That’s why we’re helping others fulfill their own dreams, leading by example and introducing them to ways they can enjoy making a living from anywhere, instead of just making money.

  5. The #1 reason I quit my job was security!, I was tired of being laid off or downsized or in one case, told I was switching to 3rd shift without any notice at all.

    That was pretty much it for me, I knew then, I would set my own rules for now on, It took a 2 years, but now I work my own hours.

    This doesn’t mean there are not challenges of course, I work 6 days a week 12 hours a day, but it’s my passion, it doesn’t seem like 12 hours you know, and it’s not 12 straight hours, it more like 3 hours in the morning, 2 in the after noon, 3 -5 hours in the evening, then a few hours before bed, sometimes I work a little less, or a little more, it’s up to me.

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  7. Owning your own business should be about creating a lifestyle that your business supports. Growing your business so it make a good income and can operated without to much hands on by the owner. Why have your own business if it doesn’t make your life much better.

  8. My family business will someday be mine. So today I am working hard to learn the business and help it grow in anyway I can. The goals of some members of the family is to have a place to go everyday, while my goal is to create an income machine that will let me do the things I really want to do with my life.

  9. I am starting several businesses that some day will allow me to make a nice income. Some people go for the hands on, in control business. But I would not agree with people who see work as a way to feel fulfilled. I see work as a way to accumulate money so you can do the things you really like to do because what you really like to do does not pay a wage.

    1. CollegeGirl says:

      I absolutely and entirely agree. I couldn’t put my finger on why the idea of a lifelong career made me uncomfortable for a long time; now I know it’s because I want to spend my time outside of an office and outside of the control of others. I’m still in the initial stages of starting my business and I’m terrified – but I know that owning my business will give me the flexibility and control that I have always dreamed of.

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