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OWNER'S MANUAL

5 Best Reasons to Be an Entrepreneur

Sure, being your own boss comes with the territory. But here are some other perks you probably haven't thought of.
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Sure, when you start your own business you get to be your own boss, expand your earning potential, and maybe change the world. You know all that.

Here are some reasons you might not have thought about:

1. You meet fewer mummies.

When you work for a big company, you represent that company. When you talk to vendors, suppliers, customers, etc., you must be more of a suit and less of a person. (I'm not criticizing corporate employees; I was one. That's just how it works.)

The larger the company and the higher you climb, the more of a suit you must become.

In short, you become a corporate mummy and your wrappings hide your personality. And, because big companies tend to do business with other big companies, you tend to interact mostly with other mummies.

Mummies are boring.

People who start their own businesses can remove most of their wrappings. They have no one to answer to but themselves. For better or worse, they can be who they are.

And they can be a lot more fun to work with. Some will even become friends.

2. You don't need an oasis.

Here's what happens when you work for someone else. You have skills. Your employer tells you where, how, and when to apply those skills. You rarely get to do what you want to do in the way you would like to do it. You're a cog in a larger machine.

The more cog-like you are required to be, the less "you" is expressed in your work life... and often the more you might try to express yourself in your office or work area.

Hence the photos, trinkets, knickknacks... all the stuff designed to remind you that you are a lot more than just a cog.

Run your own business and you may still be a cog in a larger machine--because no one does anything worthwhile completely on their own--but you get to decide where, how, and when to apply your skills.

And you won't need to remind yourself that you are more than just a set of skills to be utilized at your employer's discretion.

3. You expand "I would be doing this anyway."

A few entrepreneurs strike wherever they think the revenue iron is hot, with little regard to the nature of the business.

Most start a business because of an interest. Whether you open a bike shop or not, you'd still be riding bikes. Whether you start a software company or not, you'd still be tinkering with applications in your spare time.

Start a business based on an interest, hobby, or passion, and you get to do a lot more of what you would be doing anyway.

Then work-life balance is a lot less of an issue. When you do what you enjoy, it's just life.

4. You beat the IRS at its own game.

While the following should not be considered legal or financial advice and you should always seek the guidance of a qualified professional--wait, that just sounded like the disclaimer that accompanies all those prescription drug commercials--owning your own business lets you tap into a lot more tax breaks and tax-advantages.

In the right circumstances you can deduct things like entertainment, travel, education, vehicles, etc. Your business can pay any out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance. You can create your own retirement plans and profit-sharing plans. You can employ family members. You can... the list is almost endless.

And if you're smart you won't see the process as a necessary evil--you'll see it as another way to way to maximize your return on your business... and hang on to a lot more of your money.

5. You porch is a lot more fun.

Someday you'll sit on your metaphorical porch looking back on your life. If you're like me you'll only regret a few of the things you did, because those mistakes helped make you the person you are.  Aside from, say, the night a few friends and I confirmed that 1) cows don't tip, and 2) cows are less than appreciative of those attempting to tip them, I regret very few of the things I've tried.

What I definitely regret is not trying things--especially if the reason for not trying was a lack of confidence or fear of the unknown.

One of the worst porch sentences will start with, "I wonder what would have happened if...." Don't look back and wonder. If you want to start a business, do it. There are ways to limit your risk.

If you failed, at least you tried.

And no matter how badly you failed, you will have done so on the only terms that matter--your terms.

Last updated: Jun 4, 2012

JEFF HADEN | Columnist

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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