peoples perceptions of running your own business

(24 Posts)
Themoreitsnowstiddlypom Mon 24-Oct-16 12:31:23

I run a business with my husband, he works long hours, I'm their everyday in a supportive role, bookkeeping, serving customers and other stuff, work around school during week open up and lock up at w/end.
I have had some odd conversations with people about running our own business, for example, we must be raking it in, your lucky you can be flexible with your hours, can you just take time off because you run your own business, why don't you just get more staff, not take on as much work etc.
I have worked as a employee before so when others complain about work I can often empAthis with them as I have experienced similar issues from when I worked for other people but I often feel that many have never experienced running their own business and their perceptions can be a little off the map to say the least.
I have spoken to a couple of other business owners about misconceptions of running a business and they also can relate to having to deal with people who just don't get it at all.
I'm wondering if their are other business owners out their who have experienced the same thing and how they try and explain things as I can feel a little overwhelmed when trying to explain to people who just haven't experienced it. Also out if curiosity what perceptions others have who have never ran a business about the circumstances of those who do.

Daydream007 Mon 24-Oct-16 17:16:50

Running a business is far more stressful than working for an employer. If running a business was so easy then everybody would do it! It depends on the nature of the business of course but sometimes it can take years of blood, stress and tears before it starts to make profit.

anniroc Mon 24-Oct-16 18:00:54

They're just jealous. Grass is greener and all that. Both my neighbours run their own businesses (one had small children as well) and I'm under no illusions about just how hard it is.

MiddleAgeMiddleEngland Mon 24-Oct-16 18:09:33

I run my own business. It's great and I'd never swap it for an employed role, but the admin is never ending and you don't just walk out at 5.30 pm and forget about it. (I do realise that's also the case with some employed jobs.)

Tarla Mon 24-Oct-16 18:18:01

I run my own childminding business and the general assumption is that it's piss easy, faffing about with Playdoh and running around the park all day (when I'm not neglecting my mindees that is). How many times does someone post that they're skint and need cash asap and someone will suggest "have you considered childminding?". It took over a year to set my business up, it's not as simple as "do a bit of childminding". I had to complete professional training, including passing an exam, I also needed specific qualifications in paediatric first aid, food hygiene and safeguarding. Then I had to have DBS checks done for everyone in the house over 16 (so far just me and DH), I had to get public liability insurance, register with ICO, register with the council, have a food premises inspection, and so on. Then I needed various bits of equipment. The costs of all this were met from my own pocket. Once this was all in place I had to wait for a preregistration visit from Ofsted, which I also had to pass, then I was finally able to start advertising my business. Took sixteen months from start to finish.

People think I rake it in too. I get £3.50 an hour, per child, and usually have no more than two additional children so earn £7 an hour maximum (my own DC count in the ratios of how many children I can look after). By the time I deduct overheads and ongoing professional fees profit margins are tiny - just £1200 last year. And, like any business, there is a lot of unpaid work involved too. Progress checks, activity planning and recording, learning journals, registers, self-evaluation, policy reviews, and so on. For every two hours of paid work I probably do at least an hour of unpaid work.

So no, YANBU. A lot of people don't realise what goes into a business.

GnomeDePlume Mon 24-Oct-16 18:18:54

DH was an electrician. We had any number of comments that he must be raking it in etc etc. People were shocked when I said he had to cease trading as there was no money in it.

A lot of people didnt see that being busy doing customer walkthroughs, creating quotes etc is not the same as earning. Of course if DH had been employed all that busyness would have been paid for by the employer. Doing it for yourself is an overhead.

A lot of people (including family) thought they were doing him a favour to get him into quote when they knew full well that he wasnt going to get the job (cousin's, nephew's, neighbour's cat would do the job for a few quid cash in hand).

SukeyTakeItOffAgain Mon 24-Oct-16 18:21:01

People think you don't pay any tax unless your turnover is massive, that you can hide all your profit. If you hid all your profit, you'd never get a mortgage or loans.

Difficult1 Mon 24-Oct-16 19:01:47

Completely agree with this. I have run a business (from home) with my husband for the past 16 years. Previously employed full time.

People always ask is my husband 'busy' with work, never me. They assume that as I'm at home, I have lots of free time and can suit myself. They never see me working evenings, weekends, or any unsociable hours, which I do a lot of. They assume that they can phone any time of day for a chat and get annoyed if I don't pick up or can't talk to them.

DM used to come round to 'help' me when the kids were small (very occasionally) and would expect me to wait on her hand and foot and not actually just let me get on and do some work whilst she looked after the kids.

I never actually got any maternity leave (2 DCs). I used to work with a baby sat on my lap. (My eldest now has the most amazing computer skills!).

I looked after a terminally ill close family member a few years ago and would get home late in the evening after caring for them all day and still have all my work to do late into the night. There's never anyone else to pick up the slack when you need it.

Friends moan about their jobs, but don't understand if I say we're not busy at the moment, that actually means no income.

We actually earn very little, but do appreciate the relative freedom working for ourselves gives us, but ultimately we still have clients to answer to. However I don't miss all the office politics and do like being able to work in my own office without being distracted by other people.

When I'm ill (I have several chronic illnesses) I still have to work, I have no choice, but that often means being propped up in bed with my phone and laptop.

Having said all of that, I wouldn't couldn't change it as I think I am probably unemployable now.

Themoreitsnowstiddlypom Mon 24-Oct-16 19:05:18

Thanks for the replies everyone, its reassuring to know that others have experienced similar things to me. I appreciate you all sharing your stories.

Me2017 Mon 24-Oct-16 20:02:39

I repeat thet ax point made above. Someone on MN today implied we pay no tax! We pay an absolyute mountain of tax. Owning your own business is not a licence to commit criminal evasion or get paid in cash or commit fraud or pay a 10% tax rate. Our tax rate is the same as employees and we pay abolutely shed loads of tax whilst also acting for hours each week as unpaid tax collectors for the state too with PAYE and VAT to administer, not that we get any thanks.

DanglyEarOrnaments Mon 24-Oct-16 20:17:08

We are building a business, when it was smaller with few staff, we had hardly any income ourselves from it and yet we worked around the clock weekends, evenings you name it, as you know you just do waht you have to to get up and running.

Now a few years later it's off the ground and growing well, we 've overcome so many hurdles, and we now get some income and mainly work in the week but still have to do some weekend work at times.

I remember many times when the grind was getting too much and the pressure had my heart pounding plus missing a couple of mortgage payments. It's truly scary.

I have plans to grow each year and when we get to a certain place then I know everything will have been worth it.

I think Richard Branson said 'You have to do what most people wouldn't for years to get what most people will never get'.

I don't really bother to explain the pressures of our life to many people, we've had to walk a lonely path and sometimes the staff seem to think I've been having spa days every day instead of working hours that would make them pass out for no money at all.

It used to feel frustrating but after certain breakthroughs, not least hiring an admin person, I get some chances to relax now and i can see the bigger picture. Nobody else needs to, as long as I can see it we will keep pushing forwards.

I think you learn to do without understanding and just push on through the tunnel anyway until you see some light.

CrossfireHurricane Mon 24-Oct-16 20:24:24

What absolutely drives me round the bend is when I read on here that if you can't cover someone for long term sickness/ consecutive pregnancies that you shouldn't be in business.
Total ignorance in how most small firms are coping day to day.
It's very difficult and the worry never really stops but there is a nice feeling that you are working and in some instances giving work to others, but hollow laugh regarding raking it in!

CarrieLouise25 Mon 24-Oct-16 20:30:06

Oh god, yes yes yes.

All of this.

DanglyEarOrnaments Mon 24-Oct-16 20:30:35

Crossfire I couldn't agree with you more, I think when you get much bigger you can build in that dynamic so that cover is available but the first few years you fly by the seat fo your pants and hope and pray that everyone turns up to be where they are supposed to be each day.

A long term illness or a maternity leave could break you in the early days when you work around the clock as it is.

Bubble2bubble Mon 24-Oct-16 20:41:46

Totally with you OP. DH and I have a business. He is the one people see working, and he does ridiculously long hours. Everyone assumes because I do all the school runs that I don't work, but I end up working at night because I spend time with the DC in the afternoons.
Yes, flexibility is nice, but breastfeeding in the office and doing payroll when Dd1 was five days old was not one of my finest moments.

Chikara Mon 24-Oct-16 20:52:22

Agree. I notice it when there are discussions about workmen quoting - "get three quotes", ask him to come back etc. Or the cafe discussions in which the cost of a coffee is calculated on the basis of a teaspoon of Nescafe and an eggcupful of milk. No sense of time, space, heat, light or wages costs.

Also the "Oooh how nice. Lucky you" comments when I have time off. No work = no income.

Still it was what I could do at the time and I'd be unemployable now!

JellyBelli Mon 24-Oct-16 20:59:12

Dont forget friends who drop in and demand you just go off for a two hour coffee break then want stuff at mates rates. confused

RebelandaStunner Mon 24-Oct-16 22:00:17

We get the mates rates questions for our holiday cottage.
We are happy to let family/close friends use it for free (and they never ask) but not someone who played golf with DH 20 years ago that fancies a cheap weekend away.
We use it occasionally and the rest of the time it's fully booked up near enough all year with an agency. We always point them to the agency, which usually gets rid.
It does give us a good additional income though, so no complaints.

hanban89 Mon 24-Oct-16 22:43:23

Totally agree. The highest bill I pay is the wages, then rent for a shop premises, then bloody VAT. If the shop has a quiet winter I don't get paid very much! And to have a week off you have to have two weeks wages in the bank to cover it. It's very hard going and I often think how it would be nice to be employed again!

hungryhippo90 Mon 24-Oct-16 22:56:47

I also run my own business, I set up six months ago, believing that this would be the only way that I could work, and that I would be lucky to be busy 5-10 hours per month, and that it would help me rebuild confidence in myself, and if I get £50 a week, I'll be laughing.

Well, I have to laugh. I awaken myself at 6am to collect one of my dogs, who is here until four (sometimes later, but four at the moment!)

I have another 2 dogs to walk each day, plus quotes, invoices, paperwork.

One of my clients offered me some cleaning work on a building site, so I said yes!! Which I can barely fit into my day as it is, I'd just about got the hang of it, and I've been asked to find an extra four hours per day.

Money is alright, but I don't make minimum wage for many of the hours I work.
I spend a good few hours per week chasing for payment.
We spent the entire summer holidays with me working, not one day off, my hour has been like a conveyer belt when it comes to dogs we are boarding (literally had one leave at 4pm, for another to arrive half an hour later, and I had 3 dogs to walk each day of that weekend!) I am also booked every day for some kind of work until January 2nd. I love my job, I love feeling I have a purpose, but it feels never ending. I'm not looking forward to spending DDs birthday working.

I don't know about anyone else, but do you feel like running a business and having children is like walking a tightrope?,you work to benefit them, but work seems to take just as much as it gives out?

Also just about to set up a LTD company, for my husband who is in bankruptcy, being as it will be in my name, I can't let it fail, so I will need to take on the paperwork for that too.

Anyone else feel tired?

DoYouRememberJustinBobby Mon 24-Oct-16 23:03:38

I run two businesses and work a part time job. Apparently I'm greedy and taking jobs always from other people. One business should suffice as "having a business rakes it in". And we shouldn't have an au pair because surely I just have loads of spare time to look after the children as I can set my own hours and take holidays when I want. I should just hire loads of extra staff so I can drop everything to do favours for everyone. hmm

hungryhippo90 Mon 24-Oct-16 23:12:00

Gosh, I must be tired!! I'd forgotten my point in replying!
I get peeved with a few people, but not least parents who work far less, and say shady shit like " oh we must be getting home! Me and mummy have just finished work, it's rest time for us!" ...and I know they both work about 20 hours per week from what they've told me, and I'm only half way through my day, and my husband still has a few hours of work left before his commute home, and I've still got the building site clean, a cat to feed and two dogs to walk, before going home to sort dinner.

Then the stay at home mum who doesn't seem to understand just how hard it is to grapple with the 102 things I do each day, because I don't have a boss, so I can just take the day and do what I want (I wish!!) I'm a bit like, no I don't have A boss, I have about 15 people who pay my wages.

My mother in-laws is also of the opinion I can book days off, and just turn down bookings. How very dare I even think of working Sunday's!
People drive me insane when they don't understand.

PussCatTheGoldfish Mon 24-Oct-16 23:50:48

Word for word OP I could have written that!

We've had a forced expansion this year. Our old cheap premises have been redeveloped. We got 7 months notice. To move a business. Arseholes.

DH has worked for 5 months solid, no days off at all. No Sundays, no Saturdays, no sports day, no evening meals together, no doctors, nada. Quite frankly it has been fucking awful! We work so frigging hard, everyone thinks own business = rolling in it and it's so flexible. The stress of the past 8 months has been unbelievable and nearly broken us, emotionally and physically. We kept going because we and our employees families to feed, so we had to make a go of it.

Me2017 Tue 25-Oct-16 08:23:34

It's nice to know some others understand although I agree with people saying when you own your own business most people who don't will never really understand. I just would not bother going on about it to them as there is no point (and in my case now I earn quite a bit so am very lucky - although the old saying is right - the harder I work the luckier I get).

I liked that Branson quote "You have to do what most people wouldn't for years to get what most people will never get'". Eg I worked until I went into labour and too 2 weeks annual leave and went back to full time work ( I needed those years employed to build up contacts and experience) (or when I was self employed for the last babies ( twins) was taking business calls the next day). Most people aren't prepared to do that and of course I am not saying women and men can only be successful in business if they do that. There are many many different ways to do it but most of them have involved quite a bit of sacrifice at some point. I remember when 5 to 7am on a Saturday morning was core working hourse before the twins woke up for a 7am breastfeed.

A housewife I know via work asked what I was doing for half term. I deleted/changed my reply email before sending it as what was the point in telling her in all my years as a parent I have never taken a half term off work. How working parents can take so many holidays a year whetehr they are employees or self employed I have never understood. One summer holiday probably usually a week and may be if we have the money a week over Christmas as customers are away is usually our lot.

Like PussC's husband I often work every day - I am not pretending. However as a lot of my work is at the computer at home of course it's dead easy nowadays and only with teenagers at home so I don't need any sympathy. I have had to block the phone all week because people think if you work from home you are "free" to talk and have lots of free time.

Most people aren't aware that most employees in the UK are employed by employers with under 5 members of staff by the way, not big organisations like local authorities or the NHS or BT or Royal Mail. It's surprising. My biggest current bug bear is this supposedly non red tape Government wants to impose a huge ner burden on the self employed - google digital tax proposals. They want us to keep accounts using new special expensive on line digital products even if we do not want to and notify details to HMRC 4 times a year not once. That seems unfair if it proceeds. Some people like to keep their accounts in excel or even Word format or in notebooks or might have security issues with cloud storage. SO if you do not like the sound of that you have until 7 November to reply to the consultation www.gov.uk/government/consultations/making-tax-digital-bringing-business-tax-into-the-digital-age If you earn under £10k a year you will be excluded and if your disability means you cannot use a computer but otherwise not.

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