I’m working on a questionnaire for a local business publication, and one of the questions is what “commonly accepted business wisdom” do I think it’s time to retire. Here’s a draft of my response, which I’m still tinkering with:

Contrary to common opinion, starting a business does not have to be risky, it does not have to consume your life, and it does not have to achieve major profits and growth in order to be successful. Many people have radically upped their quality-of-life quotient by opting out of the 9-to-5 routine and pursuing modest businesses that required very little capital to start, and with few or no employees. When run well, with simple organizational and management systems, these small businesses can be quite lucrative and manageable, even for a solo operator. Yes, there is a tradeoff to running a business with modest growth goals: It is harder to take time off, and long-term profitability will be more limited. But the flexibility that’s afforded by micro-businesses is of huge value to many people, and many consider this trade-off well worth it.

What do you think? And what conventional business wisdom do you think is outdated or just plain wrong? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts!

4 Comments

  • Brilliant, and I completely agree. My answer to the same question was that one doesn’t need to go to school or get a degree in the discipline they wish to pursue (unless it’s something very specialized, like medicine or engineering). Just do it, was my advice.

  • I wholeheartedly agree. I had the “corporate grind” life that was about putting me in an early grave. After “retiring” for 5 years, I recently started a business just as you describe – low overhead, low investment, “part-time” (ha!) and with modest financial goals. I am LOVING every minute and it’s off to a strong start.

    One observation I must make though, is my surprise at the number of people who are “starting a business” with literally zero experience either in their chosen field or with business at all. I realize people can make it a success, but I know how much work (and a sharp learning curve on certain aspects!) it has been for me with a strong business background!

  • Completely agree, and maybe even would add this: the microbusiness you start doesn’t have to make you more in profit than the work you do now. I’m making less this year on my own than I was working for someone else, but it’s enough, and that’s the point. The profit in entrepreneurship is as much about freer scheduling and self-direction as it is about simple income.

  • I agree! While it takes effort and dedication to start a microbusiness, the rewards of flexibility and enjoyment far outweigh the “costs”!

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