Pros and Cons of Small Business Ownership

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In every city and town in Canada, you’ll find a trove of small businesses with passionate owners pushing the envelope on what is possible in their industry. These innovators dedicate themselves to their companies and communities, growing their bottom lines and collectively contributing considerably to the economy. 

Based on a report by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, small businesses contributed 36.7% to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019. And in 2021, 97.9% of employer businesses in Canada were small businesses. These statistics highlight the significance of small businesses and the advantages they provide wherever they are.

However, business ownership is not for everyone. As a tenured business brokerage, our team has witnessed both the triumphant moments and challenging periods experienced by business owners. 

The road to success is often peppered with difficulties, and achieving a balance can be a taxing endeavour, which is why it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of owning a small business before taking the leap to being an owner. In this post, we’ll explore just that.

Key Takeaways

  • Small business ownership comes with numerous benefits that make it an exciting career choice for many entrepreneurial individuals.
  • Although owning a business has some disadvantages, strategic planning empowers small business owners to overcome challenges.
  • Deciding to be a business owner involves self-reflection and requires the ability to manage stress effectively.

Benefits of Small Business Ownership

If you’ve ever dreamed of the opportunity to put “CEO” or “Owner/Operator” on your business card, perhaps it’s because you’ve heard of the advantages of owning a small business. 

With good reason: there are plenty of things to look forward to as a small business owner. Here are just a few:

Autonomy

There is nothing quite like the level of independence and self-governance that comes with running your own business. It signifies the freedom to make decisions and shape the direction of your business according to your vision and values. You choose where the company goes and how it gets there. That can come through in various areas:

  • As a small business owner, you have the autonomy to make all the major decisions related to your business.
  • You have the power to set the strategic direction of your business. You can establish long-term goals, create business plans, and chart a course for growth and success.
  • You can explore new ideas, implement creative solutions, and take calculated risks without being bound by rigid corporate structures or bureaucratic processes. 

It’s important to note that autonomy doesn’t mean complete isolation or the absence of external influences. Small business owners still need to consider market trends, customer feedback, legal and regulatory requirements, and the needs of their stakeholders. 

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Flexibility

The rigid requirements of an office, 9-5 position are enough to make plenty of people ponder upon the possibilities of a life free from such constraints. For small business owners, this thought is a reality in many ways. Operating a small business often paves the way for enhanced flexibility regarding work hours and location. 

Instead of having a brick-and-mortar location, you might prefer to keep things remote for ease of work. Depending on the industry and your employees’ capabilities, you might opt for longer or more frequent holidays to spend time with your family.

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One of the greatest benefits of owning a business is that you can set your own schedule and create a work-life balance that suits your needs.

Personal Fulfillment

The sense of satisfaction, accomplishment, and happiness that comes from running your own business and achieving personal goals is an unmatched feeling. Many small business owners choose to pursue a passion, turning it into a profession they can be proud of. 

Building a business around something you genuinely love and believe in can bring immense personal fulfillment, which only enhances your operations. When your work aligns with your interests and values, it makes a significant difference in your attitude toward your role in your business.

Job Creation

As a small business owner, you have the power to create jobs and make a meaningful impact on those around you by providing employment opportunities. Job creation not only enhances the livelihoods of those you employ but also stimulates economic growth by increasing consumer spending. 

You also have the ability to shape the company culture and define the values and principles that guide your business. This provides you with the opportunity to cultivate a work environment that aligns with your own beliefs and fosters a positive and productive atmosphere.

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Financial Independence

Financial independence is a significant aspect of being a small business owner. It’s certainly a draw for many, and there are numerous ways to ensure your company is financially stable and profitable while still accounting for yourself as the owner. 

  1. Control Over Earnings: As a small business owner, you can directly control your earnings. Unlike traditional employment, where your income is typically limited to a salary or hourly wage, owning a business allows you to determine the financial success of your venture. 
  2. Wealth Creation and Asset Building: Building a successful small business can lead to the creation of personal wealth and the accumulation of assets. Over time, the value of your business can appreciate, and you can build equity that contributes to your net worth. 
  3. Diversified Income Streams: Small business ownership allows you to create multiple income streams. By offering various products or services, diversifying your customer base, or exploring different revenue streams (such as online sales, partnerships, or licensing), you can reduce reliance on a single source of income.
  4. Tax Advantages: Small business ownership often comes with potential tax advantages. Business owners can deduct legitimate business expenses, such as equipment purchases, travel expenses, marketing costs, and healthcare premiums. Taking advantage of these deductions can reduce your taxable income and result in significant tax savings, further enhancing your financial independence.

Pro Tip

Keep in mind that financial independence as a small business owner comes with its own set of responsibilities and risks. You must carefully manage cash flow, monitor expenses, plan for contingencies, and adapt to market conditions.

Creative Freedom

Small businesses have the advantage of being agile and adaptable. They allow for the rapid integration of novel ideas, experimentation with different strategies, and innovation within your niche. 

They also provide a unique platform for the expression of creativity and innovation in your field of choice. You have the freedom to develop unique products or services, design creative marketing campaigns, and find innovative solutions to challenges. The ability to bring your ideas to life and witness their impact can be deeply fulfilling.

Personal Growth

Running a small business means you’ll continuously experience personal growth. On a daily basis, you’ll be presented with opportunities to acquire and learn new skills, whether it’s in marketing, finance, leadership, or problem-solving. The process of overcoming challenges, expanding your knowledge, and honing your entrepreneurial skills can be fulfilling in itself. 

While the progression might not be immediately discernible, the growth stimulated by business ownership is bound to permeate other aspects of your life in a positive way.

Community Involvement

Many small business owners find fulfillment in positively impacting their customers, employees, and the community. By providing valuable products or services, creating job opportunities, supporting local causes, or embracing sustainable practices, you can contribute to the greater good and derive personal satisfaction from your impact.

How to Buy a Business (13 Steps): A Complete Guide

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Disadvantages of Small Business Ownership

While there are plenty of benefits of being a business owner, it also comes with disadvantages. This type of work isn’t for everyone, and it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of owning a business before you decide to purchase or start one.

Financial Risk

The monetary risks associated with being a business owner is significant, especially if you are not well-versed in finances and accounting, along with all the necessary paperwork needed to keep your records in order. 

While financial independence is the goal, there’s no guarantee of success, and you may face initial investment costs, ongoing expenses, and potential losses before you can stabilize your investment. Financial instability can be a significant challenge, especially in the early stages.

  • It’s crucial for small business owners to seek professional guidance, invest time in understanding financial management, and consider securing funding or loans to support growth.

Long Working Hours

The adage of “being your own boss” is a common theme in those who enter business ownership. However, they don’t always consider how hard that boss has to work. Getting things off the ground takes considerable time and effort, forcing you to deal with an increased workload, work long hours, and juggle multiple responsibilities. 

It will take time before you can comfortably step away since the pressure of managing various aspects of the business, such as operations, marketing, finances, and personnel, can be overwhelming.

  • By adopting effective time management strategies, delegating tasks, and seeking support from mentors or business communities, small business owners can gradually ease their workload and create a well-rounded team.

Limited Resources

This is a heightened disadvantage for those who choose to start their small businesses from the ground up. A great idea can quickly flounder without viable resources, which is often the case for those funding their operations and unaware of the expertise needed to get a company off the ground. 

Compared to larger businesses, small businesses generally have limited resources, including financial capital, workforce, and technology. This can make it challenging to compete with bigger competitors and implement large-scale initiatives, stalling operations and causing frustration in the process. 

  • Despite limited resources, small business owners can leverage their agility, passion, and ingenuity. Embracing a growth mindset and fostering strategic relationships can help small businesses overcome obstacles.

Responsibility for Everything

The double-sided coin of autonomy comes with being responsible for everything — good and bad. While autonomy grants you the freedom to make decisions, it also comes with the responsibility to bear the consequences of those decisions. 

You are accountable for the success or failure of your business, and autonomy allows you to take ownership of both the risks and rewards that come with entrepreneurship.

  • Having autonomy means you have the power to shape your own destiny and pursue your vision relentlessly. Still, it also demands self-discipline, perseverance, and adapting to adversity.

Uncertainty

Whereas other companies can weather the storms of economic downturns, industry changes, and market fluctuations, small businesses cannot always come out unscathed. 

As a small business owner, maintaining momentum and pushing your operations forward can be difficult, especially if you continue to run into roadblocks. Uncertainty can create additional stress and make it harder to plan for the future.

  • Navigating uncertain times requires adaptability, resilience, strategic thinking, and a strong support system to overcome challenges and seize opportunities effectively.

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Tips for Managing the Stress of Small Business Ownership

Small business owners can experience high stress levels due to the unique challenges and demands of running their operations. 

As the heart of your company, it can feel overwhelming to have numerous problems fall in your lap and deal with putting out a fire, so to speak, for another one to crop up. Stress can be heightened by:

  • Workload and time constraints
  • Personnel and HR challenges
  • Decision-making and responsibility
  • Pressure to succeed

While stress is common among small business owners, it’s important to note that individual experiences may vary. Some small business owners may thrive under pressure, find fulfillment in their work, and have effective coping strategies to manage stress. 

Managing the stress of small business ownership is crucial for maintaining well-being and ensuring long-term success. Here are some tips to help you navigate the challenges:

  1. Delegate and outsource: Identify tasks that can be delegated or outsourced to lighten your workload. Focus on your core competencies and consider hiring professionals for areas outside your expertise.
  2. Build a support network: Connect with fellow entrepreneurs, join industry associations, or seek mentorship to share experiences, gain insights, and receive guidance.
  3. Time management: Develop effective time management strategies, prioritize tasks, and set realistic goals. Avoid overcommitting and learn to say no when necessary.
  4. Seek work-life balance: Set boundaries between work and personal life. Allocate dedicated time for family, friends, and leisure activities to recharge and maintain a healthy balance.
  5. Stay organized: Maintain an organized workspace and establish systems to manage paperwork, invoices, and records. Use digital tools for file management and create routines for staying organized.
  6. Manage finances effectively: Stay on top of your financials by regularly reviewing cash flow, tracking expenses, and working closely with an accountant or bookkeeper. This helps in making informed decisions and minimizing financial stress.
  7. Celebrate successes: Acknowledge and celebrate milestones and achievements along the way. Recognize your hard work and the progress you’ve made, boosting motivation and reducing stress.
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Is Small Business Ownership Right for Me?

Deciding if small business ownership is right for you requires careful self-reflection and consideration of various factors. As business brokers, we’ve come across numerous types of owners during our tenured time buying and selling businesses. When it comes to new owners, we encourage them to:

  • Assess their motivations
  • Evaluate their skills and experience
  • Review their comfort level with taking risks
  • Consider their lifestyle
  • Determine their financial viability
  • Establish a team of trusted advisors or mentors

The decision to become a small business owner is deeply personal. The most successful small business owners have similar traits and characteristics that we have found help them achieve their goals and drive their companies forward with confidence. These are as follows:

Passion and Commitment

Successful small business owners are often driven by a deep passion for their industry or the products/services they offer. They are committed to their business and willing to put in the necessary time, effort, and resources to make it succeed.

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The Ability to Wear Many Hats

Small business owners frequently find themselves playing multiple roles within their organization. They handle tasks ranging from strategic planning and marketing to customer service and operations. Being versatile and willing to learn new skills is crucial.

Adaptability and Resilience

Small businesses must be adaptable and responsive to market changes, emerging trends, and customer demands. Owners need to be resilient and able to navigate challenges, setbacks, and unexpected circumstances.

Keep in mind these are our own observations and do not necessarily reflect a set standard for all small business owners. In general, it’s essential to consider your specific industry, location, and personal circumstances when embarking on the journey of small business ownership.

In Summary

When weighing the pros and cons of owning a business, you may have different details that sway you one way or another. In any case, this endeavour requires perseverance, resilience, and a willingness to learn from successes and setbacks. 

If you want to break into this type of role, surround yourself with a support system of mentors, advisors, and fellow entrepreneurs who can provide guidance and encouragement along the way. At Sunbelt Canada, we can support you in finding the right business for your experience, needs, and budget. To learn more, reach out to our team.

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Gregory Kells
Greg Kells is the Founder and President of Sunbelt Canada, the number one business brokerage in the country. He has directly facilitated the sale of over 1,000 businesses and is a two-time winner of Businessperson of the Year in Ottawa. Greg is passionate about mentoring and teaching, with experience as a guest lecturer at Harvard, Yale, Duke, and various colleges across Canada. He is active in numerous community organizations and advocates for economic empowerment, the environment, science, and technology.
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