For over eighteen teen years, I have worked as a marketing consultant teaching families and individuals the principles that apply to starting and managing a home-based business. There are many blessings and burdens that should be considered before you embark on such a journey.
First of all, starting a home-based business must be something that is Spirit directed and controlled or it will inevitably be a disaster. Being in charge of your own company is much more difficult than you may imagine. Let’s look at some common motivations for starting your own home-based business.
Top Reasons People Start Their Own Businesses
(In no particular order of importance.)
More Flexible Schedule
There is a common perception that if you run your own business you can make up whatever schedule you desire. This is a partial truth. I like what Bob Farewell often says, “Having your own home business is great! You have a very flexible schedule. You decide which twenty hours of the day you want to work!”
The fallacy in this flexibility expectation is that most home-based businesses end up keeping the same hours of operation as any other business. When other people are going about their workday (8:00 am – 6:00 pm, M-F), they expect you to be available to conduct business as well. Obviously this may vary based on the type of business you engage in, but for the most part, you will likely find yourself locked into traditional work hours. However, when the lights go out and turn on the answering machine, many more hours of work may still await you.
As with homeschooling, if you need to take time off, you sometimes can, but those hours usually need to be made up by extra work in the evenings or weekends. You still have all of the same personal demands that you had before (a car to maintain, groceries to buy, grass to mow, etc.) and you may find that it is actually harder for you to accomplish those personal tasks once you are engaged in a full-time home business.
Unless you hire an extensive staff (not likely for the new business owner) you are responsible for all aspects of the maintenance of your new company. You are the salesperson, the production manager, the accountant, the customer service agent, the president and CEO, the marketing expert, the janitor, the graphic artist, the repairman and the strategist or creative mind behind the development of your products or services.
If you think this leaves you with lots of free time, think again. Many business owners find themselves working late into the night until they are cross-eyed, living on caffeine, overloaded with stress, dodging commitments at church or in their community and actually having much less personal time that they did before they began their business. Couple this with the uncomfortable misconception your friends may have of you (that you don’t have a real job), and you will find that you are constantly the one volunteered to help someone move, or to fill in last minute for any project that your friends couldn’t accomplish, because “they had to work,” and you may find yourself a bit disillusioned with your “flexible” schedule.
Of course, on the bright side, for those emergencies when you really need to take the afternoon off, you don’t have to get the boss’ permission because, well, you are the boss.
More Income Opportunity
Ha, ha, ho, he, he, haw, haw, hoo, hoo, ha! Sorry. I’m picking myself up off the floor. That was a good one! Ok, I’m trying to say this with a straight face. You thought you could make more money if you worked for yourself? Ha, ha, ho, he, he! Wow. That is too much. Ok, now that you’ve made my day. Let’s look at this prospect.
Most of the people I know who have started their own businesses make far less than they could working a white collar job for a major corporation. You may also find yourself paying your own self-employment taxes, business insurance, health insurance, possible rent for office or warehouse, payroll (if you hire employees) and much more that you didn’t have to think about when you worked for someone else.
Get Rich Quick!
You’ve probably seen the ads for multi-level, or network marketing companies, promising that you will make lots of money (thousands of dollars a week in some cases), doing little to no work, at home in your bathrobe! As the old adage states, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” The Bible teaches, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23 NASB) Of the dozens of individuals that I have known who are engaged in network or multi-level marketing businesses, I have only known of one situation where a representative made a decent full-time living with the same company for more than five years.
In reality, if you want to own your own company, you need to be content to make a living, not a fortune. Yes, you need to provide for your family’s needs, but the Lord has not promised to take care of all of your whims and wishes, just your necessities (and He defines those differently than most of us do. See 1 Tim. 6:8).
Independence (Be Your Own Boss)
The “Be your own boss” syndrome is a two-sided coin. On the one side you may have a noble aspiration to be free to serve the Lord, not being encumbered by servitude to an earthly “master.” Often, Christian men feel they are limited in working for the Lord because their “secular” employment (as they see it), keeps them tied to labor that doesn’t necessarily build the kingdom of God. They also grow weary from the heathen language, lifestyles and attitudes of their non-Christian bosses or co-workers. I think these are legitimate concerns. Before leaving your job, however, you need to really seek God to discern if God has placed you there to be salt and light in that environment.
God wants to have his people in many spheres of life. God wants Christians to work in hospitals, courtrooms, computer labs, factories, retail stores and many other spheres of life. That is part of our great commission to go into the entire world. In one sense, our employment is a means to disciple all nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about passing out tracks on company time. I’m talking about taking a Biblical worldview and a Christian work ethic into whatever sphere God has placed you.
It could be that your desire to quit your job is simply reflective of the fact that you are a selfish person who won’t be told what to do. In some cases, it is a rejection of legitimate authority that drives a man to start his own business. God will not bless that kind of in-turned and retreatist mentality.
It may also be that you are lazy and don’t like hard work. The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. Being your own boss may look like a lot less work and headache. The problem is that unless you are self-disciplined and can drive yourself to work when you don’t feel like it, you won’t succeed as your own boss. Self-government is an essential quality for the business owner.
In an age of economic uncertainty and corporate downsizing, some feel that owning their own business gives them a more solid financial footing. While it is hard to run your own business in a down-turned economy, it may be safer than having all of your eggs in someone else’s basket! Many are the tale of men who have been sent job-hunting after many years of loyalty to the factory or office. Whether through intentional lack of reciprocal loyalty to the employee, or simply the results of going belly-up because of financial woes, many major corporations have let down their workers and left them searching classified ads for work.
There is a trouble I have observed under the sun. I have seen many wives who put pressure on their husbands to quit their jobs and come home. The goal is to have dad work out of the home and presumably to be available to help with the children and household tasks. I don’t know that there is anything inherently bad in this wish, but the results are often detrimental to the family.
In some cases, I believe the wife is simply discontent. It’s hard to know why, perhaps she doesn’t even know. She thinks that having her husband home more often will make her happy. In reality, however, that just doesn’t pan out. In fact, having hubby around all of the time can create a lot more stress. Suddenly there is another person fully engaged in all of the details and decisions of everyday life. If the wife is not content in life when her husband is away at work, she simply carries her discontentedness into her new situation.
She may not have given enough consideration to how the change in income may affect the family. It may be that she has simply been hyper-focused on getting her husband to help more around the house, and a home-business seemed like the ticket! Please remember ladies, the husband is not to be the help-meet. It is the other way around! Sure, hubby can and should help with household issues, but that is not his main calling in life.
As we have all heard, money issues are one of the main causes for strife and marital conflict. When hubby quits his job with a predictable paycheck and tries to live on the sporadic income that accompanies being self-employed, his wife often can’t handle the pressure. She wants safety and security. It is a woman’s intuition to provide a comfortable nest for her family. Having the financial apple cart upset sometimes turns the nagging from coming home to work, to the more pressing issue of, “How are we going to pay the bills and put food on the table?”
Men are naturally concerned about such issues (at least normal ones are), and having a “continuous dripping” from a nagging wife doesn’t bless hubby. Things can go from bad to worse if this family has not planned ahead, and doesn’t know what to expect. The key to this issue is being content and not having false expectations of the “good life.” The good life is being wherever God wants you to be, doing what God wants you to do.
Train Their Children (Pass On A Career)
This is perhaps one of the best reasons to start your own business. Allowing your children to work alongside of you gives you the chance to share much more than business skills. You can pass on your values, work ethic, morals, practical knowledge and love to your children by having them work in your business. I like what Denny Kenaston says, “I don’t use my children to grow my business. I use my business to grow my children!” The best approach is to start a business that will teach your children skills that they can use in the real world. They may not choose to continue with the same type of business you have started, but hopefully they have learned skills that they can apply to other endeavors. This approach of mentoring and apprenticing through work is in many ways a better preparation for an occupation than college could ever be.
When Should You Start Your Own Business?
1. It seems to me that the best time to start your own company is precisely when you don’t need the income. Most companies don’t make a profit for the first two or three years. It takes a while to build your business. Can you live for two or three years without an income? Most people can’t. That’s why I don’t generally advise people to just quit their job and go full time into a new endeavor. It helps to get your feet wet slowly, don’t just dive in.
2. If you are not a creative, self-starter personality, you probably shouldn’t consider owning your own company. You need to be innovative regarding your product line, or your approach to service. If you are naturally a follower and not a leader, you might be best working for someone else. If you have difficulty taking charge of a situation or making a decision, self-employment is probably not right for you.
3. The best kind of work to do is the work you like the best. If you love what you do and you feel that God is pleased with your involvement in a particular endeavor, you can be happy and fulfilled even if you don’t make a lot of money. I have met many business owners who say, “I used to make a lot more money, but I wouldn’t trade it for what I’m doing now!” There is a lot more to your life than making a living. Make a life, not a living.
4. You need to find work that allows you to balance all of life: Your relationship with God, your family, your friends, ministry, finances, long-term personal goals, parenting goals, and evangelistic and discipleship opportunities. Never let one of these factors control the others. They are all important. God wants your life to be integrated to maximize your effectiveness for His kingdom.
5. It seems that marketing is the Achilles heel of every business. Most business owners have a great product or service, but they really struggle with getting the word out to the people. In this area you need to read good books and seek out mentors. Marketing approaches change all the time, so the most important things it to learn the basics and then be willing to flex and change with the times. Pray and the seek the Lord and he will direct your steps. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Israel Wayne was home educated and currently serves as Marketing Director for Wisdom’s Gate, publishers of the national publication Home School Digest, where this article first appeared. Israel is the author of the book, Homeschooling From A Biblical Worldview, published by Wisdom’s Gate, and site editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net.