Anybody who has ever sat in a cubicle or office or reported to a regular workplace every day has probably, at some point or another, found themselves fantasizing about working for themselves.  The dream is usually the same…setting your own hours, working from home if you choose, in your pajamas if you like.  But the reality can be a lot more complicated than you think.


Yes, the obvious advantage to having a business rather than working for someone else is being able to work on your own schedule.  You can decide how long to work each day and, depending on the type of business you have, where you want to do your work.  Even if your business requires you to work outside your home, you can still come and go as you please and make your own choices.


The other major advantage is being able to pursue what you love to do.  Usually, working as an employee means taking any job just to pay the bills.  In the world of SMEs, you have folks who had something they really wanted to do or were really good at and decided to pursue it full time.  This can require a lot of extra effort, but it is usually much more rewarding.  It’s the Holy Grail of the working world.


But owning your own business also involves a lot of risks and that makes it a very scary step to take.  Without an employer to provide pay and benefits, you are on your own.  Your income is entirely dependent on the effort you put in and the success you are able to have with your business.  And you are responsible for footing the bill for things like health care and vacations.


This hasn’t stopped a growing number of people across the globe from taking the plunge and going into business for themselves.   This is particularly true in New Zealand, where SMEs currently make up more than 30% of the total workforce.


Of course, even within the world of SMEs, there can be various positives and negatives.  Working by yourself as a consultant or freelancer is challenging enough, but if you have a small or medium enterprise that has a small number of employees, you’re now on the opposite side of the fence, responsible for their well-being as well as your own.


For some people, the regular routine of going to the same job each day and working a set number of hours is preferable to facing the great unknown of business ownership.  They like having a regular paycheck, usually with benefits, and knowing that the boss is taking care of things like that pesky tax paperwork.  Other folks see standard employment as being mind-numbingly boring and creatively limiting.


As you can see, there are pluses and minuses to both sides of the equation.  Whether you opt to work for someone else or to go it alone and launch an SME is a personal choice.  Just consider all the options and make the choice that’s right for you…then you’ll be able to sit back and reap the rewards.