Should You Run Your Business Alone?
Many young Nigerian entrepreneurs are setting out on their own in business, ignoring the burden-sharing benefits of collaboration and running their business operations alone instead of taking on the outlay that comes with hiring permanent staff.
We've spoken to a number of such solo entrepreneurs (or solopreneurs, if you like trendy terms), many of whom are at a point where they want to expand their business but are reluctant to bring on the people who can help it grow for reasons including the fear of spending money on salaries, rent and office equipment, the fear of mismanagement and the fear that their vision for their business will be diluted.
If you are in a similar position, we'll help you decide what to do by contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of running your business alone.
Let's assume that, as an entrepreneur, you have the capacity to wear many hats and run your business by yourself. Some benefits of this style of entrepreneurship are:
1. Profits are yours entirely.
There are no employees, board members or shareholders to take bites out of your cake.
2. You personify your brand.
You are the face, the heart and the soul of your brand: without you, it doesn't exist.
3. You make all the decisions.
You are the judge, jury and executioner.
4. Decision-making is quicker, facilitating flexibility.
Your business is quick on its feet and can switch directions at (your) will.
5. Your time is yours.
You could plan a day of meetings and hard work or go on an impromptu holiday, your choice.
6. You can take all the credit for what you've built without feeling guilty.
Yes, you can brag in peace. Some will even call you a superhuman.
Very appealing, isn't it?
But with such independence comes great responsibility, and a head that wears many hats will soon ache.
The issues that come with running your business alone include:
1. Too many tasks, too little time.
Between handling your business account and managing customer service, you might not have any breathing room and your personal life will suffer (more on this soon).
2. Limited skills to play several roles properly.
We've shown you how to do business accounting without an accountant, but that's just one role you can play yourself. As your business expands, you will need to get more professional about how it is run, and you cannot be everyone your business needs. Seriously, you cannot, not even with a Stanford MBA.
3. Great business concepts, slow execution.
And that's if you ever get to the execution phase. With the volume of management work you have to do, it's unlikely that you'll ever bring your most amazing business concepts to life.
4. An invisible social life.
We can't tell you how important networking is to business growth, but we can tell you that you'll find it hard to make valuable contacts and grow a powerful network that will bring referrals if you don't have a social life. And no, social media cannot replace face-to-face networking.
5. Poor health.
With all you have to do by yourself, it's only natural that you'll be under a lot of stress (which will make you sick eventually). And when the 'man' in 'one-man business' is sick, there's no business.
6. Tunnel vision and low-quality decisions.
You might not make outright bad decisions, but without partners or team members to discuss with and to present alternative perspectives, it's very likely that the quality of your business decisions will often be less than great.
The bottom line
If you want to move your business forward, you need people.
Now, how you choose to get those people is up to you. Depending on the nature of your business, collaboration and outsourcing are alternatives to hiring permanent staff, but you are eventually going to need a structured team to work with if you want to go the distance in business. You can't do everything alone.
Are you running your business alone? Share your experience in the comments section below or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll love to hear from you.