What is happiness to entrepreneurs?
When you start a business you dream of success. You are inspired by other peoples’ success. You read about large companies. You meet successful business owners. You learn about CEOs of large companies. When you are small you want to become big. It feels natural to want to grow your business larger. As your business grows, it changes. It will be more time-consuming. Often, it will require more risks. Your relationship with your business will change because you will become more of a manager than you were in the beginning. It requires you to change. As your business evolves you must evolve with it. Going through all those changes might be more difficult than you think.
Does having a larger business makes you a happier entrepreneur?
Bigger isn’t necessarily better – As you grow your business it might lose some of the magic. It is a lot harder to run a large business than a startup. You have to juggle a lot more things than when you started. Jason Cohen, the CEO WP Engine, had grown his business to 125 people. The skills to run a startup vs. a company with 125 people are very different. Doubling your revenue doesn’t mean you have doubled your profits. If your bigger business also grows your time, risk, and financial commitments, it might not be the best road ahead. Growing your business sounds like the entrepreneur’s dream, but it could also become a nightmare.
Bigger is more time-consuming – Many people start a business to have more free time. It might even work in the beginning, but as you grow your business, you will have to spend more time in your business. When you are small you make all the rules. As your business grows you are dealing with employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and more. The list of responsibilities grows. The hours you spend running your business will grow too.
Bigger requires more risks – Often, companies that want to grow fast take huge risks. You might get a huge order that could double your revenue. Expansion is expensive. To fulfill the order you will have to take on a loan. In addition, it is necessary to hire more employees. The employees require new equipment and a larger space. You will need a larger inventory. There are more expenses to pay for all that. Even if you have doubled your revenue your profits will not double. Actually, you might be losing money to pay for it all. There will be mistakes made. Mistakes always cost money. To operate a bigger business requires more discipline. As the economy fluctuates you have to be ready to downsize fast. It is a painful part of being a larger business. Risks is what keeps you up late at night. What seemed like a good idea once has you worried.
Bigger could be less fun – It might sound like fun to have a larger business, but it might be less fun. As your business grows you have to become more of a manager. Your spend much of your time protecting what you have. You are dealing with a lot of uninteresting things. Nobody starts a business dreaming about employee issues, inventory management, or HR problems. As your business grows so are your responsibilities. You can no longer do what you enjoy. You have to do whatever it takes to keep your business going.
Bigger requires you to change – When you started your business you were an entrepreneur. Today, with your larger business you are a little bit of a manager, a supervisor, a sales manager, an HR expert, and a legal department. You are stretched thin. You are not the person you used to be. You had to change to accommodate the needs of your business. All of it might be a lot less fun than you once dreamed.
Bigger is more expensive – There is a cost associated with growth. Expansion requires greater investments. You will spend more on inventory, people, marketing, sales, etc. To build a bigger business you’ll have to invest more of your own money or get outside investment.
Bigger doesn’t mean bigger profit – Growing your business might not result in greater profits. You might increase your revenue by 25% one year, but your additional expenses might actually reduce your profitability. Especially in the beginning, running a larger business might lower your profitability. There is a learning curve involved with building a larger business.
Bigger takes more people – With more people comes more headaches. As your business grows you have to transition from entrepreneur into manager. Being a manager requires very different skills. Many entrepreneurs find that hiring and managing employees takes the fun out of owning a business.
Growth can detract from your goals in life. You might end up with a bigger business and smaller profits. Focus less on revenue and more on happiness. Take personal inventory as your business grows. Do you get joy from running your business? Are you happy with your life? Let personal satisfaction rule your business decision instead of revenue.