For most people, going solo seems impossible. They imagine piles of debt, no benefits, and a whole lot of free time.
Misconstrued ideas about being a small business owner are commonplace. You are bound to hear awkward comments at cocktail parties and meetings with prospective clients.
So, what do you say when you that uncomfortable moment squeaks into your conversation? You break the tension with candid insights that highlight your entrepreneurial know-how.
Here are some common things you never want to hear and some honest ways to respond:
1. 'I can’t believe you do everything yourself.'
As a small business owner, you are a renaissance man or woman: you not only offer a specific service, but manage marketing, accounting and client relationships.
Despite its challenges, baptism by entrepreneurial fire has its benefits. You truly know your business. And numerous, okay, countless responsibilities mean that you’re never bored. If the average mid-level manager wears a few different hats, you wear a closet full.
2. 'But, what about health insurance?'
When I told my friends that I was leaving a job with benefits to venture out as a solopreneur, I heard, “But, what about health insurance?” from everyone and their Mom.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance marketplaces have popped up all over the country, making it easier for individuals to pursue entrepreneurialism without risking their personal well-being. Yes, it costs more than an employee-sponsored plan, but is it worth it? Hell, yeah.
3. 'You must be swimming in debt.'
Just because it’s an awkward question does not mean you need to give an awkward answer.
First of all, not all entrepreneurs are in debt. A lot of small business owners get creative with their approach to financing projects: many build their business as side-gigs before jumping to full time, and 52% work from home to cut down on expenses.
And if you do have a business loan or pursued equity financing, you know that this part of entrepreneurialism is nothing to go bonkers about. The idea of debt may make other people break out into hives, but that’s just their fears creeping in. Put it in terms they understand:
4. 'Do you just love how flexible your schedule is?'
You don’t sit in a cubicle from 9-5, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. If you’re client or customer facing, chances are you’re accountable to their schedules, not your dream hours.
Being your own boss may mean that you can take an extra coffee break or have a long lunch with a friend, but you will probably make up for it later. According to an old survey from 2006, the majority of small business owners worked over 50 hours a week. 25% of small business owners worked over 60 hours a week. More responsibility means more work.
5. 'Your services are so expensive.'
Do you remember the first time an acquaintance told you your prices were sky high?
As a small business, your services are specialized, curated and worth it. If you do have doubts about your costs for clients, identify whether you need to adjust your pricing model or whether your own inner critic is undervaluing your work.
In the end, stand behind your product. The right clients will respect you for it.
6. 'Can you do this today?'
Sometimes, potential clients think that working with a small business means around-the-clock care. Good news for you: personalized attention doesn’t mean that you have to commit to unreasonable deliveries.
Mutual respect is the basis of any good client relationship -- setting positive, proactive boundaries is vital to your success and that of your company.
7. 'I could never do what you do!'
Even after you explain your work as a small business owner, employees of large organizations or companies may still think there’s no way they could set out on their own. It’s just not true!
Entrepreneurship may not be the path for everyone, but it’s not impossible either. The more that you demystify the process in candid conversations, the more you will help others to trust their passions and take the leap.
Starting your own gig takes guts, brawn and a heap of humor, too. When naysayers doubt your choices or don’t understand how small businesses works, help them to understand. Brush off any criticism and show ‘em how it’s done!
How do you respond when you hear something about your business or professional choices that irks you like crazy?