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Start a Business.or Get a Job?

The decision rests with you, and only you. But there are definite perks to being your own boss.

Q: I am doing a research project comparing the advantages and disadvantages of either starting your own business or working for someone else. Could you tell me why starting my own business would be a better decision?

A: You've come to the right place. There's nothing I enjoy more than extolling the virtues of chaining yourself to your very own desk rather than chaining yourself to someone else's. I'm kidding, of course. Becoming (and being) an entrepreneur is very hard work and involves lots of long, perhaps sleepless, nights--but you'll certainly not feel chained to anything if you start a business that makes you happy to get up in the morning.

That is really the primary advantage of starting your own business--you get to decide what, when, why and how you want to do things. You're the boss, and you call the shots. That doesn't mean you can disregard other people--clients will want things done a certain way; employees (should you have any) will command a certain amount of respect. And if you choose to start the business with a partner, you will need to collaborate on decision-making and on how you want to run the business. No person is an island, no matter how many coconut trees you own.

Ultimately, though, being an entrepreneur affords you freedoms that you would never know as an employee of someone else. You get to decide how much effort to put into your business. If you want to start your business small and stay small, you can do so. If you want to start your business small and grow big, you can focus your efforts on innovative marketing or financing strategies that will allow your business to expand. You can be as big or as little as you like, and no one will blink.

As I mentioned earlier, with those freedoms comes a great deal of struggling, no matter how big or small your business. Unless you're rolling in cash to begin with, you're famous or you're extremely lucky, starting a business could be the most arduous task you'll ever undertake. You have to do your research to find out whether there's a market for the product or service you want to sell, you have to put together a plan to get your business going, you have to put your heart and soul into something that may or may not succeed, and you have to be willing to accept the possibility that your business might fail.

Why is starting your own business is a better idea than getting a job? I can't claim that one is better than the other, because it's an entirely personal decision. Some people (myself included) have jobs, and being an entrepreneur might not be in the stars for those people, whether it's because they're happy in what they're doing, or they just don't have the gumption or the time to start a business. I'd guess, though, that most happy entrepreneurs would try to convince you otherwise.

Karen E. Spaeder is former editor of Entrepreneur.com and former managing editor of Entrepreneur magazine.

Karen E. Spaeder is a freelance business writer in Southern California.

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