Business Ownership

“If everyone was a landlord… there would be no tenants!”


Owning your own business, and being your ‘own boss’ is an enticing prospect. Multitudes have been duped into subscribing to this sound byte, and sucked into a world of unhappiness. In the most simplistic terms, owning one’s own business seems alluring. You make your own hours. You decide how you’ll spend your days. You’ll make the choices that as an employee, are left to someone else. You’ll have control over your life! It all sounds tempting, but there is more to the story.

As a business owner, you are immediately subject to rules, responsibilities, and obligations that are foist upon you from all sides. You may not know it yet, but every little thing that you own in the world is immediately at risk. You have a degree of freedom, for a moment, then reality takes hold. You are no longer eligible for employment insurance, as you’ve declared yourself ‘self-sufficient’ as far as the government is concerned. Not only that, but you have assumed the responsibility for the individuals you employ. You are now responsible for their economic well-being. You can’t explain to them that your receivables are unusually high, or that you’ve had to buy extra inventory to take advantage of quantity discounts, or that your largest customer has found a reason to delay a payment that you were counting on to make payroll. They don’t want to hear your excuses. They want their paycheques!

You are now an ‘agent of social control’! Yes, you are a government agent, legislated to deducting and remitting payroll deductions, and collecting commodity taxes, and accounting for your operations and paying tax. The government is your partner. If you make money, you pay tax. If you lose money, well, you don’t get any help but then you don’t have to pay tax. If you consistently lose money, CRA may take the position that your business has no expectation of making a profit and deny your losses! That, to me, is adding insult to injury, but it’s the law.

In more than three decades of helping business owners, I’ve determined there are two distinct advantages to owning one’s own business: 1. YOU ARE THE LAST TO GET FIRED; AND YOU ARE THE LAST TO GET PAID. Now for some adventuresome individuals, that’s enough, but it doesn’t put food on the table. Being in business for yourself and being successful at it requires many competing and conflicting talents in one individual. It’s not enough to simply enjoy what you are doing, or to be the best at it. In the simplest terms you need to be an artisan, a bureaucrat, a salesperson and a babysitter. To be successful as a business owner, you have to play to your audience and recognize a warm prospect from a cold fish. Not everyone is your model client. Indeed, even the most needy prospect may not be able to pay you or even recognize their need for your goods or service. If you fail to recognize that, you will have squandered your most precious resource, your time. Better to move on to a sea of potential customers than flounder trying to save someone who insists on drowning!

In my opinion, business ownership, gainful employment, and succeeding in life are about happiness. It’s really about finding your personal happiness in life. How many people are really happy about their lives and about what they do to earn a living? Is every business owner happy? Is every employee happy? It’s easy to imagine that someone else has it better than you, ‘the grass is always greener. . .”  I would suggest to you that the grass is often most green where you are standing, and if it isn’t, then move! Make it green if you can, or move on.

It’s human nature to want to change, to do something different every so often. Change is good. Working in an environment with constant repetition has a mind-numbing effect. Humans need stimulation and interaction and challenges. We all want to feel creative and to translate our energy into some sort of legacy. You may not feel that way today, but one day you’ll have an epiphany and you’ll feel the desire to create that masterpiece. But not everyone will create a ‘Sistine Chapel’ or a ‘David’ or leave the world with insights into relativity. For most of us, we must content ourselves with doing the best at the tasks and challenges that are presented on a daily basis, and relish in the satisfaction of contributing in a small way to making the world, albeit a very small part of it, a better place. If you can find happiness in that, whether you are self-employed, gainfully employed, gainfully engaged or whatever, then in my humble opinion, you are a SUCCESS!

I would love to hear from you and invite your questions and comments. You can reach me by e-mail.  With three decades of experience as an accounting professional, consultant to small business and business owner, there may be a few things I can help you with. Call me. Best wishes, Sid.