Paycheck Chronicles

The Bad Side of Being Your Own Boss


Self-employment often looks good to military spouses looking for a flexible and mobile careers, and to military members looking to supplement their military income and possibly prepare for a job once they leave the military.   There are many benefits to self-employment, but there are also many negatives as well.  The Happy Rock has put together an enlightening post called 29 Reasons Why Being A Part-Time Entrepreneur Sucks.  I agree whole-heartedly with everything in the article, and I have a few more that I think apply to military families:

  1. Moving is disruptive.  Even if your business is online, you'll still have downtime as you physically move.  A physical business will surely suffer with every move, as you will basically have to build a new business at each new location.
  2. Small businesses don't like deployments.  If the deployed service member is the business owner, the deployment can kill the business, or at least have a huge impact.  If the military spouse is the business owner, the spouse will find the usual demands of entrepreneurship more challenging, especially if the couple has children.  The temporary single parent and small business owner combo is really, really hard - we all still get just 24 hours in the day.  (And as I write this, my 9-year-old has stumbled out of bed to ask, "When are you going to bed?")
  3. Running a home-based business can affect your housing situation.  If you are living in already-small government quarters, running a small business (if allowed) will eat into your living space.  If you live on the economy, you will be looking for a space that will work with your business, making house-hunting more challenging.
I don't mean to suggest that entrepreneurship is a bad idea for military families, but rather to point out that there are challenges with any small business, and some of those challenges can be compounded by the military lifestyle.  It can be a lot easier to deal with these potential problems if you are aware of the challenges before you start, or if you know that you are not alone in facing those challenges once you've gotten into it.  Being your own boss can be a great choice for a military member or spouse who has the right skills, ideas and attitude to persevere in spite of the obstacles.
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