The lure of a Micro-Business

If you choose to work for yourself, you are joining a rapidly growing trend. I can easily see the day coming when a new graduate chooses a career as a salaried employee only because he or she hasn’t got the necessary confidence and skill to start their own business.

"So you got a job at Bank of America?"

"Yeah. I couldn’t face the thought of starting my own company and not making a go of it."

"Too bad! Maybe in a few years, you’ll be ready to take that step."

Working for yourself is no longer a last resort. There are many highly trained people who have deliberately chosen to leave the corporate world to strike out on their own. Building a business from scratch is the ultimate challenge for many. You get all of the excitement and all of the responsibility.

For many, the risk of failure in a micro-business is insignificant compared to the slow torture of trying to accomplish anything significant in a highly layered corporate structure.

In a micro-business, you call the shots and you learn from your mistakes. If you are a fast learner and quick on your feet, this is a heady experience. You now have tools which make you every bit as efficient as a much larger firm. In addition, you have the opportunity to work closely with your customers and give them a level of service that no large corporation can match.

As Lloyd pointed out in a comment to my last post, a few years ago we would try to hide the fact that we were a very small company. Today, you will see many websites which proudly state, "We are a family-owned business!" or "We are a small company and your business is important to us."

Self-employed people give up salaries, benefits and a measure of security in exchange for freedom and greater control over their work and family lives. For some of us, it’s the difference between manning an oar on a galley or paddling our own canoe.

There is a high degree of lock-step conformity in the best of corporations. Along with the business trips to Paris and Singapore, there is a mind-numbing series of compromises you make with your integrity and your conscience in order to keep on receiving that salary and those perks.

On the other hand, most self-employed people earn less than a salaried person and they may work longer hours. Most self-employed people lack insurance benefits, although that may change as micro-businesses become a larger factor in the economy.

In spite of all this, I believe that micro-businesses will continue to grow in number and importance because being self-employed allows people to balance work and family in a way that is usually impossible as a salaried employee with a full-time job.

One huge boost for micro-businesses is the immense marketplace established by Ebay. As a micro-business owner, your biggest problem is reaching potential customers. With Ebay, you have an open market place with unlimited potential.

Some people who have abandoned corporate life are making a living using the resources of Ebay. This article on The Rise of the Mompreneurs is an example. Thanks to Lloyd for the tip. His site is well worth visiting.

In my next post, I will round up some bloggers with micro-businesses, because I think these people have the best of both worlds. They get to make the decisions for their businesses and they get to share their realizations and business experiences with kindred spirits through their weblogs.

This entry was posted in Doing What You Love, Micro-Business. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to The lure of a Micro-Business

  1. fletch says:

    I appreciate the posts on this subject, although having just returned to the corporate world, it’s sort of hitting me below the belt. Although I’m a contractor, contracting to the corporate world is not really the same as your own business. In most ways it’s the same as being a corporate cog but without the benefits. I know the cliche “do what you love and the money will follow”, but what I love is taking pictures, traveling, and reading. That happens to be what the majority of the human race would like to do, so it’s rather difficult to make a living doing that. I’ve often told myself there are only two things I lack in order to start my own business: capital and know-how. Anyway, sorry if this sounds depressing. I’m just frustrated at myself for having to be in the corporate world when the real world is out there to explore, and don’t know how to extricate myself from it. I look forward to more of your wisdom.

    P.S. I worked for Bank of America at one time. You couldn’t have picked a better example of the corporate insani….er environment.

  2. You bring out some real points. Some of this has to do with age / exp.. and all the ups and downs we have all weighed out through the years.

    I started “my small hispanic marketing” company. Correlation = No Politics, No Benefits.

  3. Good post. I’m just now hitting my 3-year anniversary in having my own consulting business – just me. I started it two days after being laid off, because it took about 20 minutes to get the domain name and that was “the shingle.” Of course, I’ve had to figure out a lot of stuff since then, but what sometimes is the scariest is that I am not sure I could ever put up with working in a “real job” again – even to work for someone else in a consulting situation, a small company, etc. might just be too….limiting.

    I’ve had numerous thrills along the way as I reach new points for myself. I guess I’d be interested in evolving the business with partners, more than taking on a new corporate job. Anyway, yeah, that’s me. Just throwing my two cents in here….

  4. David says:

    I should have mentioned in passing the many consultants who service big corporations, yet are micro-businesses themselves.

    This is an entirely different class of consultant. I knew many of them and they were resourceful and generally provided good service.

    These consultants still pull down top fees and will continue to do so as long as their contacts in the large corporations still have jobs.

  5. Dustin says:

    Lovely post. I run a ‘micro-business’ software company. I actually started it while in university, and other than a 6 month corporate job stint to save up a little nest egg have never done anything else.

    It’s great, I love it.

  6. TM Lutas says:

    One thing about health care benefits. One of the redeeming features of the new medicare bill is Health Savings Accounts that just started this January. That brings health benefit availability to a lot more people who run their own business but the next jump in reform should finally solve the problem, associational health plans. When I can get health benefits through my church or some other group that I love and would never part from, I’d never mix earning money with getting health care.

  7. Since it is a micro-business why do you need to stop at just one? Set up one with the goal of generating $1000/month. Then repeat until you have 12 micro businesses generating $1000/month. Once you have 12 work on doubleing each micro business every year.

    With this simple plan you can in 5 years be earning a very nice chunk of change for yourself.
    TITLE: The lure of a Micro-Business
    BLOG NAME: Does Size Matter
    DATE: 06/05/2005 12:50:06 AM
    I just found this post from Ripples from a whole year ago.

    Working for yourself is no longer a last resort. There are many highly trained people who have deliberately chosen to leave the corporate world to strike out on their own. Building a busin…
    TITLE: Micro-Businesses on the Rise
    BLOG NAME: Small Business Trends
    DATE: 07/07/2004 10:21:55 PM
    David St. Lawrence at Ripples writes about the growing importance of micro-businesses. He has an entire series of posts on micro-businesses that you really should check out.
    TITLE: Micro-business primer
    BLOG NAME: Drakeview
    DATE: 06/20/2004 04:27:22 AM
    Dane Carlson is the force behind Business Opportunities Weblog and he is always posting interesting links about small business, entrepreneurs, going off on your own and recommendations on how to make the most of your efforts. He casts about widely
    TITLE: The social aspect of work
    BLOG NAME: writelife
    DATE: 06/16/2004 12:10:05 PM
    When I was on my own as a business and doing the freelance thing, one of the things I found I had traded off for independence was the social aspect of work. And I found this was actually a pretty
    TITLE: The Lure of a Micro-Business
    BLOG NAME: Business Opportunities Weblog
    DATE: 06/10/2004 05:50:44 PM
    David St Lawrence: “If you choose to work for yourself, you are joining a rapidly growing trend. I can easily see the day coming when a new graduate chooses a career as a salaried employee only because he or she…

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